• New exterior design
  • Interior upgrades
  • More torque from 4-cylinder engine
  • Current 2019 VW Passat priced from $25,295


A redesigned version of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat has been introduced sporting a bolder grille and a more coupe-like profile. The revamped VW midsize sedan goes on sale this summer.

The all-new 2020 Passat will still be based on the New Market Sedan (NMS) platform unique to North America. That architecture was introduced in 2011, followed by a 2015 facelift for the Passat.

This time around, the exterior and interior redesign is more extensive and draws cues from last year’s makeover of the Jetta. The 2020 Passat features a larger horizontal grille, bolder character lines and an upgraded interior that features Audi-inspired MMI (multi-media interface) touch pads.

Four trims, one powertrain

The Passat returns in four trim levels, S, SE, SEL and R-Line, along with a special launch-only Limited model. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 174 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. While horsepower remains unchanged, the torque figure is up significantly from 184. The transmission continues to be a 6-speed automatic.

VW is making more features standard across the board including blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, standard LED lighting, rain sensing wipers, voice control, satellite radio and adaptive cruise control. There are also new 17- through 19-inch wheels available.

Class of 2020: The New and Redesigned Cars, Trucks and SUVs

Behind the wheel

We were able to get an early preview drive of a camouflaged prototype at VW's Arizona proving grounds. We took the Passat over a variety of road surfaces, including washboard dirt, gravel, a tight handling course and the high-speed oval.

Since the basic architecture of the car hasn’t changed much, the body and chassis are solid, well-damped and insulated. The steering felt a bit light, but the car has good acceleration thanks to the additional torque from the engine. On the gravel portion, I could feel the stability control gently kicking in to straighten the car when the back end would wander. On the high-speed oval, where we saw about 114 mph, the car remained quiet with little in the way of wind noise. The only area that perhaps needs a bit of tweaking is the throttle tip-in, which was a bit sensitive in low speed application.

We’re looking forward to getting a chance to subject the 2020 VW Passat to a real world drive before the summer on-sale date. As for pricing, we're going to have to wait, although you can expect it to start somewhere near the current 2019 Passat, which is priced from $25,295 plus $895 for the destination charge.

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