By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
Last year, Volkswagen completely reinvented the Passat mid-size sedan, and aimed it straight at the heart of American shoppers. Bigger, conservatively styled, with lots of standard equipment and a lower price, the Passat retained its German driving feel even though VW now builds it in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For 2013, the Passat continues to deliver great value for money. It plays in the tough heart of the market, where the iconic Toyota Camry and Honda Accord set the beat and more edgy upstarts like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima play counterpoint. But the new VW Passat is carving out its niche as a comfortable, affordable 4-door with good space, lots of features, great road manners, and an honored spot on KBB's list of the 10 Best Family Cars of 2013.
Looking for a roomy, mid-size sedan that offers an assortment of powertrains and lots of standard content? Like the idea of genuine German driving characteristics with a Made in America label? Want it all for a starting price in the low $20K range? Check out the 2013 Volkswagen Passat.
Although starting around the $20K price sweet spot, options packages and higher trim levels quickly push the 2013 Volkswagen Passat into $30K territory. And if you're looking to make a visual statement, the sharp-looking Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima will draw more attention.
After its thorough remake last year, aimed specifically at attracting more American consumers, Volkswagen's mid-size Passat sedan is little changed for 2013. Some tweaking inside makes the center console's cup holders and storage space more functional, and a rearview camera is now offered on the top SEL trim level.
Driving Impressions The Volkswagen Passat sedan has grown substantially to appeal to North American sensibilities, but even though it's now a larger, heavier car, you'll still be rewarded with...a refined road-going experience. Its suspension – including a 4-link independent rear setup – cancels out most road imperfections, and body roll is nicely controlled on tight, curvy roads. The base 2.5-liter 5-cylinder is 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 lusty 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 inline-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.
FENDER SOUND SYSTEM
Fender, the electric-guitar icon, is making its first foray into automotive audio. The Passat's optional 9-speaker, 400-watt system developed with Panasonic provides clear, well balanced 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 2013 VW Passat isn't flashy inside. Think clean lines and tasteful – but not overdone – chrome highlights. Lower-end Passats can look vanilla, but moving up to the Premium level adds an 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 on the subject of seats, thanks to the Passat's longer wheelbase, rear-seat passengers now enjoy more legroom than in any other current mid-size sedan.
The 2013 Volkswagen Passat may not be as distinctive-looking as the Passats that came before it, but its clean styling should serve it well over time. It is sleek and subtly 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 sizable 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.
For just over $21,000, a 2013 Volkswagen Passat S sedan (inline 5-cylinder) comes equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, hill-hold control, 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 up to the top SEL trim to get it.
With a lot of available options, packages and trim levels, it's easy to equip a 2013 VW Passat the way you want. Noteworthy items include Vegan-friendly V-Tex Leatherette seating, a Fender Premium audio system, an iPod interface and the quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. For a little more oomph in your daily drive, a 3.6-liter V6 or the strong but frugal 2.0-liter 4-cylinder clean turbodiesel engine are also on the menu.
The 2013 VW Passat sedan offers three engine choices, which greatly affect the character of the car: a 2.5-liter inline-5 shared with the smaller Jetta, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 diesel (TDI), and a 3.6-liter V6. There are four transmissions available: a 5-speed manual (with the 2.5), a 6-speed manual (TDI), a 6-speed automatic (2.5) and the DSG 6-speed dual-clutch automatic (TDI and 3.6). 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 in any other sedan, you'd have to move down out of the mid-size segment.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (manual), 22/31 mpg (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic)
A base 2013 Volkswagen Passat S, with the 2.5-liter engine and manual transmission, starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $21,640. If you prefer an automatic, that means the Appearance Package (includes alloy wheels) for another $2,100. A full-boat SEL Premium package tops $31,000. The TDI turbodiesel Passat spans a range of $27,000 (SE) to $33,700 (SEL Premium). The 3.6-liter V6 engine (DSG automatic only) starts around $30,000 for an SE and climbs past $34,000 for an SEL Premium. The Passat competes in the crowded mid-size segment, which includes heavyweights like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, as well as value-oriented rides like the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. Check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what local transaction prices are running. In resale value, the Passat falls behind the Camry and Accord but bests the Optima and Sonata over time.
By JJ (IN) on Sunday, November 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "fuel economy"
Cons: "poor value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"My local dealer in Bloomington, IN is horrible. The service department is not trust worthy, to the point I will sell my VW within the next year and never buy a VW again."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By lm68 (SC) on Thursday, November 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well thought out features, big trunk, great value!"
Cons: "None. Wish I could spend more time driving!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Can't believe how well laid out this car is. Everything is exactly within reach and easy to operate. Love the Bluetooth so I can stream my music while I drive and I can control the radio and answer the phone with controls mounted on the steering wheel. The trunk is so big that I don't have to use the seats and floor inside the car like I used to with my old car when I bought groceries. This baby can hold a lot of stuff! The seats and interior are so comfortable it feels like they belong in a more expensive luxury car. I can't believe how luxurious this car is for such a great price. Definitely a great value for the price. The engine provides more than enough power and doesn't feel like it's just 2.5 liters. It's not sluggish like other cars I've drove in the past with small engines. The exterior is also very well designed and attractive for a midsize family sedan. Who says you can't be sporty when you have four doors? I love, love, love everything about this car! I just wish I had discovered VW a long time ago!"
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Solomon (FL) on Thursday, November 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, safe, drives smoothly, and much more!"
Cons: "No cons!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car for myself, then will be passing it on to my daughter. Absolutely love it! Quite similar to a Audi. We have gotten rear ended twice, and no dent at all to our car! Sturdy, safe, and just simply amazing!"
By TommyL (NJ) on Saturday, November 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "MPG decent, auto trans sport mode helps accelerate"
Cons: "Extremely uncomfortable power drivers seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I had a 2001 VW Passat that I kept for 12 years. That was a great car. I replaced it with a 2013 VW Passat SE 4 months ago. When VW redesigned the Passat in 2012 they messed it up. They went cheap and only have 8-way driver's seat. They changed the angle or tilt of the seat bottom and it is not adjustable! I called the dealer and the seat is not replaceable, nothing they can do. Every time I drive my car I am left feeling like I have a sprained ankle. The auto dimming rear view mirror does not work as expected. The middle head rest in the back seat blocks the sensor so that it doesn't work. Even taking the middle head rest out has not completely resolved the problem. The 5 cylinder engine with 6 spd auto transmission has problems maintaining speed going up small hills with cruise control on. Even with cruise control off, the transmission shifts into higher gears too soon when going uphill. I now have a 4 month old car that I hate. I am buying another new car to replace it. Next car will not be a VW!"
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Big Dan (OR) on Saturday, November 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,300overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG"
Cons: "Seat foam is vey thin."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"i bought this car as I was needing a more economical vehicle to drive to work. I read all the reviews and was amazed at how great the car was according to the reviews. After driving the car for approx 1 month i was truly amazed as to how great of MPG the car really was getting. I have gotten as good as 50 a few times, but I usually get right around 46 to 48 MPG. I am giving 9 out of 10 due to the seat being very poor quality. they are not very thick when it comes to the amount of foam that is put in. I have to use a 4" pad to sit on in order to drive."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Poindexter (CA) on Sunday, November 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,895overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "very comfortable car!"
Cons: "I wish it had a rear view camera."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the '12 VW Passat new in April of 2012. I traded in another car for this one. The car has been excellent the whole time. The back seat pampers the passengers with tons of leg room. The trunk is also very big. My wife and I took it on a fairly long trip, and we were both very comfortable. Some people don't like the 2.5 liter engine, but it works very well for us. We considered the diesel engine, but the fact that the engine was quite a bit more money, and the cost of diesel fuel was, and still is higher, we couldn't see the advantage. We also like the dual zone automatic A/C. That can keep a marriage together. The Fender sound system is outstanding. All in all, we're very happy with this car."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful