By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
If we were to describe the new 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan in as few words as possible, we'd go with "more for your money." Compared to the previous-generation Passat , this all-new, just-for-North-America sedan is bigger, costs a lot less, and comes with more stuff standard. In other words, it's the automotive equivalent of the extra-value meal at your local fast food joint. But rest assured, the refined on-road German manners that appealed to many buyers in the midsize-sedan market over the years haven't been removed from this Passat iteration. If you're looking for a practical family sedan that is also fun to drive, the new VW Passat is a worthy contender for your hard-earned dollar.
Looking for a roomy, midsize sedan that offers an assortment of powertrains and a healthy amount of standard content like dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and keyless entry, all for a starting price in the low $20K range? Try the 2012 Volkswagen Passat on for size.
Although starting in the $20K price sweet spot, adding options (like an automatic transmission or a USB port) will quickly up the total for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan. And if you're looking for a family 4-door that stands out visually on the road, the sharp-looking Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima will draw more attention.
The Volkswagen Passat sedan is not only larger, better equipped and much lower in price for 2012. It's also tailor-made just for North America, in North America.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Volkswagen Passat sedan has grown substantially to appeal to North American sensibilities, but even though it's now a larger car, the new Passat is lighter and delivers a...refined road-going experience. Its new suspension – including a 4-link independent rear setup – cancels out most road imperfections, and body roll is nicely controlled on tight curvy roads. The 2.5-liter 5-cylinder will undoubtedly be the volume leader of the Passat's engines and is a perfectly fine around-town commuter, but if you want more zip in your drive, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine is where you'll get your smiles. Its minimal turbo lag and plenty of low-end torque make a trip of any length a more pleasurable experience. The final feather in the VW Passat's cap: Whether you choose the 2.5-liter in-line 5, the TDI or the V6, this German sedan is one quiet ride. That's a good thing, because with segment-leading rear legroom, passengers sitting there won't need to yell to be heard.
Optional Fender Sound System
Fender's first foray into automotive sound, this 9-speaker, 400-watt system developed with Panasonic provides well-balanced and clear sound.
Offering up to 43 miles per gallon on the highway, this clean-burning diesel engine can return nearly 800 miles per tankful. Whether you can survive for that long without a rest-stop break is another matter.
The 2012 VW Passat isn't flashy inside. Think clean lines and tasteful - but not overdone – chrome. Lower-end Passats can look vanilla, but spending a little more and moving up to the Premium level adds Autumn Nut Burl wood trim detail that brings some visual interest to the cabin. Base S models come with standard cloth seating surfaces, while SE models get V-Tex leatherette and SEL models receive the full leather treatment with suede-like "Dinamica" inserts. And while we're on the topic of seats, thanks to its longer wheelbase, rear seat passengers now enjoy 39.1 inches of legroom - which is more than any other current midsize sedan, and more than the longer and wider "4-door coupe" VW CC.
The 2012 Volkswagen Passat may not be as distinctive-looking as the Passats that came before it, but its new looks should serve it well over time. It's now sleeker and more angular in appearance, sporting a 3-bar horizontal grille and pronounced side crease lines that draw attention to the sedan's increased length. This length also allows for a more sizeable trunk – with 15.9 cubic-feet of space, it's a nearly a cubic foot larger than the trunk in the Honda Accord, which the EPA classifies as a large car. Sadly, the VW Passat Wagon is no more, so if you're looking for a family-friendly front-wheel-drive hatchback, consider a VW Jetta SportWagen, Audi A3, Acura TSX Wagon or Honda Crosstour.
For less than $21,000 (including destination), a 2012 Volkswagen Passat S sedan comes equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, cloth seating, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 3-year/36,000-mile maintenance program. Hoping for a USB port to plug your mobile device into? You'll have to move out of the base Passat to get it.
With a lot of available options, it's easy to spend more on a 2012 VW Passat. Worth noting: Vegan-friendly V-Tex leatherette seating, a Fender Premium audio system, an iPod interface and a quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. For a little more oomph in your daily drive, a 3.6-liter V6 or 2.0-liter 4-cylinder clean diesel engine are also on the menu.
The 2012 VW Passat sedan offers three engine choices: A 2.5-liter in-line-5 shared with the smaller Jetta, a turbocharged 2.0-liter in-line-4 diesel with direct injection (TDI), and a 3.6-liter V6. There are also four transmissions available: a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic and a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission direct shift gearbox (DSG). If how much you spend at the pump is important to you, you'll be interested to know that the TDI can return a class-leading 43 mpg on the highway when matched with the manual transmission. In order to get comparable fuel economy with any other internal-combustion-engine-motivated sedan, you'd have to move down from the midsize segment.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (manual), 22/31 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line-4, turbodiesel
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 (manual), 30/40 (DSG Automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (DSG Automatic)
By parbob on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT PRICE AND FUN TO DRIVE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I HAVE OWNED THE VEHICLE FOR 18 MONTHS MILEAGE WAS LISTED AT 34 CITY 40 HWY. I AM GETTING 42 IN CITY OVER 50 MPG HIGHWAY. GREAT VEHICLE VERY DEPENDABLE RIDE IS QUIET AND SMOOTH.I AM STILL AMAZED AT THE MPG'S I AM GETTING. I DROVE THIS VEHICLE FROM LAKE CITY , FLORIDA TO MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE ON LESS THAN A TANK OF FUEL. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR FUEL ECONOMY AND COMFORT THIS IS YOUR VEHICLE."
By pfnator on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and excellent MPG"
Cons: "no backup camera or sensors on this version"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been the best vehicle I have ever owned so far. I purchased a 2013 TDI SE version with the DSG transmission. I average over 40 MPG in mixed driving. Where I was filling up every week in my old vehicle I now can go 2 weeks on a fill up which is around 700 miles. Took the car on a trip to Atlanta and got over 50 MPG. And this is before the engine has gotten broken in. Have not a problem with the car. Interior room is extremely large and seats are comfortable. You can get similar mileage to a small hybrid car with the Passat yet you have a lot more room."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By abk on Monday, August 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very enjoyable to drive."
Cons: "none so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my 3 Passat and I just love this car it is very comfortable on long trips and has plenty of room. I realy like the DSG transmission and the TDI engine has plenty of power even with 4 adults and luggage."
13 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By BillytheKid on Saturday, August 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great lines, killer interior, bluetooth rocks"
Cons: "A little sluggish off the line"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The jury is still out a bit as I just bought this 2012 Passat SE PZEV from a dealership last weekend. I had been driving a 99 BMW 528i for 10 years and have been amazed at all the techno in the Passat. The BlueTooth is fantastic to have, I get in the car, flip the iphone to BT and the car connects me automatically. The rear seating in enormous, it along with the longated rear windows reminds me of the older XJ12 Jags. The vehicle is a little sluggish off the line when excellerating but it might be due to the ac being on. Trunck is crazy huge, I could probably fit three golf bags back there and have some room left. The touchscreen entertainment system is a refreshing change from the 99 BMW 528i cassette player (right!!), The overall design is classic. This car will look good 10-15 years from now and I attribulte that to classic German engineering and design. There are clearly Audi influence in the overall presentation. The value seems to be there, we'll see."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By totsNtators on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "good fuel efficiency, spacious interior"
Cons: "unreliability and horrendous customer service/care"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car has been a nightmare for us. Around 41K mi, the engine light came on and we had to get the entire fuel system replaced. The dealership service center blamed it on a bad batch of diesel feul...suspect. About 1K mile later, engine light comes on again and we had to get a sensor replaced. same dealership service center said "sensors just fail sometimes." suspect...shouldn't happen on a 2 1/2 year old car. 45K miles in and my engine completely dies on a busy interstate while i'm 5 months pregnant. apparently a bolt holding the injector pumps in place broke, dislodged the pumps and killed the engine. breakage was traced back to fuel system replacement done 3 months ago. i filed a formal complaint with dealership and GM of dealership reacted by aggressively demanding his rental car back and threatening to call the cops on me if i don't return it immediately (we were loaned the car until our repairs were done). VW of america customer care heard about all the incidents but took no action or accountability for what happened. worst car ever owned and will never buy VW ever again. buyers beware! loved the car until something went wrong. then it was a chain of reaction that got worse and worse. and this was just 2 and 1/2 years into ownership, didn't even reach 45K miles when major malfunctions occurred. you're really on your own since VW will not provide any customer care support. VW dealerships are also independent franchises so there's no guarantee of quality workmanship, even though they are "authorized dealers" and "authorized service centers" VW needs to stand behind their work and their customers. when something goes wrong in a car that is advertised as car of the year or family car of the year, take some responsibility for it. seems like once you give them your money, that's all they really care about, since they let dealerships do whatever and behave however they want, not ensuring any type of standard of quality in servicing or customer care. it's absolutely unacceptable. i've been completely disgusted and appalled by my experiences with this car and VW overall and hope this review helps others steer clear away from this car and this company."
16 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By BC Congo on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "excellent handling car at a reasonable price"
Cons: "defrosters ,defogger not too good,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I enjoy driving this car. I particularly like it's handling in all conditions and it's speed. I really don't have to push the pedal much and I am cruising above the limit.I don't speed often but once on a clear long stretch of highway I decided to see how fast the car would go. I was up to 110 m.p.h. and that was enough for me (I didn't want a ticket or jail time)The car accelerated with little effort and if I wanted to I know the 160 on the speedometer would not be a problem.That was a one time thing though, I like knowing that the car has some power but I enjoy driving at a safe speed. The thing is that it really surprises me sometimes when I look at the speedometer and my speed is higher than I thought, that's why I say it's deceptively fast.The car handles well and has a good feel for the road, you don't have that soft luxury feel but more of the feel of the road with some softness. I feel like I am driving in the Alps sometimes. It's not a bad looking car, in either sense of the word,looks similar to many other cars and the interior is not flashy. The trunk is huge and I think you can fold the seats down to make an area to transport things or even sleep in. I have not had to use it in those ways yet so I might be wrong on that. The seats are comfortable and they have to be manually adjusted which I don't mind because it's one less thing to be concerned about electrical wise. Overall it's a really good car and although I am leasing it I most likely will buy it at lease end.My lease has 21 months to go and hopefully in about 19 months I can start or find a thread about people who are also going to buy the 2013 passat when their lease ends and we can compare what the dealers are asking in price and fees and also appraisals."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful