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 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."
By Carl on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have a tdi and the mileage is great, I average about 43 on long trips in the summer and about 38 in the winter using premium diesel. Car drives great, but my main complaints is that the cost of ownership is ridiculous, the low profile tires don't allow for any quality tires, I am on my third set now and only have 75k miles on my car, oil changes are triple the cost of a normal oil change. I used to have a chevy Monte Carlo and I could get around 100k on those tires and I put over 300k miles on the that car with minimal repairs, I have already had several factory recalls and minor parts that have gone bad on the tdi, most have been under warranty but it makes me think this car won't last long. Not impressed with cost of ownership! I would not recommend to anyone unless they plan on spending 3k a year on oil changes and repairs and tires?"
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Dan on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Highway Fuel Economy"
Cons: "Uncomfortable seat, HMI, no head room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I own the 2014, and I cannot wait to get rid of it. YES, THE HIGHWAY FUEL MILEAGE IS AMAZING. Try driving any competitor midsize sedan at 78 mph and be lucky to top 28 mpg (I get 43 mpg), and that's if you're in a 4-cylinder and not getting ran off the road by a semi while pulling out on the interstate. I will give the TDI credit there, while the 0-60 is not so great- the 60-80 (which is what matters here)is decent enough (better than a 4 cylinder or hybrid that engages the gasoline engine at this point. The highway MPG basically boils down to how close to 1900-2000 RPM you can get while in 6th gear, the closer the better. The trunk is like a cave. You can go spelunking in there. Oh and legroom, but we will get to that. NOW FOR THE CONS: Do not let the commercial with the guy doing donuts in a Passat or the "turbo" fool you, this is not by any means a fast car. From the gearing to the single turbo, it was made for one thing and that is fuel economy. But like I said, it still fares better on the interstate than most hybrids. The front seats, no planar tilt. Seat adjusts up and forward or down and back. YOU WILL NOT FIND A COMFORTABLE SPOT. Go ahead, drive it for 1 hour back and forth to work and tell me how your back feels. And I have the best seats they offer. Not to mention you can feel the seat heaters. I am 6' 190 lbs and I cannot get comfortable. No head room.Plenty of legroom, but no headroom- which makes for an odd combination (gives almost a feeling of vertigo). THE HUMAN MACHINE INTERFACE FOR THE NAVIGATION AND RADIO IS POORLY ENGINEERED. Ever draw anything on MS Paint? That is literally how easy it is to configure a layout on a touchscreen. The buttons are touchy, yet there impact locations are hard to find, so you will swipe at it and press the wrong thing 9/10. IT IS HORRIBLY SLOW. The back-up camera, the push buttons, the screen changes. All of it. Slow. This tells me that the RAM is near full with the new updates for 2014, and instead of compensating, they just pushed forward with the absolute worst in the midsize market. Where are the LED headlights? Not even an option. I understand the urea. I get emissions. But why is the filler cap in the trunk? Do you know what happens if you ever spill it? It crystallizes and instantly bonds to whatever it comes in contact with. Oh and it will leave you stranded when you run out, as in the car will not start. Keep it filled yeah, but that is just one more thing you have to stress about besides not putting bad diesel in it. The Fender sound system is alright, but once you couple it with the horrible interface and the "why in the cosmos did they make that silly plug for the iPod thing" they have, expectations fall short. The remote start? Shuts off as soon as you open the door. No, you cannot change it. Oh, and hopefully they remove the shipping spacers in the coils. If you drive over a bump and hear a loud thud (and you didn't run over a turtle), they are still there."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By KD2788 on Wednesday, July 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Mileage!"
Cons: "Diesel takes a while to get used to. Turbo lag"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased my 2012 VW Passat TDI SE just about 2 years ago when this body style first came out. As an owner of a 2010 Jetta (Wolfsburg) I liked the fit and finish of the Jetta however the gas 2.0T in it was killing me in the mileage department. I was pleasently supprised by Passat. The fit and finish, ammenities, and handling between the two cars were comperable. However the intirior and trunk were so much more spacious than I thought they would be. The automatic transmisssion is quick and firm. It shifts nicely at all speeds and RPMs. The brakes are firm. However the low RPM turbo lag takes a little while to get used to. It is not a race car by any stretch of the imagination but it will get up and go when you need it to. But if you somp on the gas from a stop, you will probably spin the tires a bit as soon as the turbo kicks in. Neither a pro or a con, just something to get used to. In the 2 years I have had very few problems. My left mirror cracked when I forgot to turn off the heated mirror. Easy driveway fix with either an OEM mirror or I went with a european convex mirror. Sometimes, when the radio is low, you can hear the fuel sloshing around in the tank. Again, not a big deal with just a little music. Overall the TDI Passat is great! I get over 600 miles to a 18 gallon fill up when driving to and from work. On several road trips I've gotten almost 800 miles to the same 18-19 gallons! Thats amazing!"
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By NoCal on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value, comfort, roominess, gas mileage."
Cons: "Rides a bit loud, but that may be the tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been a great car. My last Volkswagen was my then new 1972 bus, and my last diesel was a then new 1979 Peugeot. Wow, how things have improved. The design and quality of this VW Passat has not gotten old for me. The comfort and interior conveniences are a real value and the efficiency and dependability of the turbo diesel have made this car a real delight to own and drive. I was so pleased with the TDI and Volkswagen, that I bought my wife a Jetta TDI sportswagen and is she is extremely pleased with that. Overall, my next car will most likely be either another VW (or I may step up to an Audi), with a TDI engine!"
13 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Eric on Sunday, June 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, sleek design, dependable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I leased this car brand new and have put on 31,000 miles. So far the only non-scheduled maintenance issue I've had was a headlight that shorted out and was replaced under warranty. The car rides very smooth, is comfortable and reliable. I love having the XM Satelite radio. The leather seats are comfortable. The car is stylish, but also comfortable for long trips. I plan to purchase at the end of the lease."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful