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2012 Volkswagen Passat

Overview
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2012 Volkswagen Passat Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Passat

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.

TDI
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.

2012 Volkswagen Passat Details
2012 Volkswagen Passat photo Interior

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.

Exterior
2012 Volkswagen Passat photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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.

2.5-liter in-line-5
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)

3.6-liter V6
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (DSG Automatic)

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2012 Volkswagen Passat Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 159 Ratings for the 2012 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    8.8/10

#4 is best so far!

By on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Very well made automobile. 49 MPG"

Cons: "Miss red blue dash lights"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Moved up from 09 Jetta TDI. On a trip to LA on the interstate averaged 49 MPG doing the speed limit plus driving in the city. Very quiet ridding car. Still has a great sound system. Drove with 5 people in the car around the city, plenty of get up and go. The back up camera is a nice feature. It's the American Passat."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Great car at a great price!

By on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,700

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Excellent equipment and gas mileage for low price"

Cons: "No ipod cable or heated mirrors"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I had been looking at the Passat for a while. But when they came out with the Limited Edition model, I jumped! This car has a lot of features that their base car doesn't have, but for just a little more money. It is less than the Wolfsburg or the SE model! The things I love about this car is that it has very nice alloy wheels, rear view camera, bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, Fog Lights!!, keyless entry with pushbutton start and chrome accents around the windows. A few options this one doesn't have is the heated outside mirrors, the cable to plug in your ipod nor the new Car Net system VW has available. On a recent trip to see my grandsons play baseball (about a 200 mile round trip) I averaged almost 39 mpg. And this is a gasoline engine, not their diesel! I really like this car!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Outstanding Car

By on Saturday, May 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,300

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Cons: "Only con is blind spots. Could use a BSM system"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Purchase a 2015 TSI SEL in February. First German car. Sticker was $32,900 and negotiated to $26,500. Very happy with the deal and dealership. Navigation system and options are great. Black paint looks great on this car. 4 Cylinder Gas Turbo is an outstanding engine. Plenty of power and great gas mileage. Ride is quiet and road handling very good. I have colleagues and friends with the Passat, some with Diesel, all love the car. Great car and exceeds my expectations. Love it. Elegant and quality styling in and out, and a terrific value over smaller European and Asian competitors. The roominess in the car is like nothing else in this class."

5 people out of 5 found this review helpful

great car

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great mileage and great attention to detail"

Cons: "i cant think of anything to complain about"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"traded in a tdi jetta. the passat is roomier and more luxurious but not as much fun to drive. overall a very nice car. i get over 40 mpg without driving a subcompact"

2 people out of 5 found this review helpful

worst car I have ever owned

By on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "none"

Cons: "no leg room, to many blind spots,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I have a 2013 Passat. It is the worst car I have ever owned. First of all the car has to many blind spots. It has plenty of leg room in the back seat, but limited leg room in the front. After being in the car a couple of hours, my legs start to cramp. I would never own another one. I am used to driving Toyotas and that is what I will be buying in the future."

3 people out of 21 found this review helpful

Great gas milage, interior room, classic style

By on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,700

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great gas milage, reliability, styling"

Cons: "Dated entertainment system, hard plastics"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"If you like timeless styling, 35-40 miles per gal highway, turbo pep, roomy interior and German handling and ride, you just might like this car. According to Consumer Reports, the Passat is a top reliability pick. On the negative side, the entertainment system is a little dated. Fewer Apps than the competition. But being over 65, I find that refreshing. To cut down on pricing, VW uses a lot of hard plastic, although tastefully."

4 people out of 9 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?