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 Passat 2013 Owner on Sunday, March 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, quiete and tourquey little diesel."
Cons: "Need to learn to drive manaul ecconomically."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I typically get 47MPG combined hwy /city. Diesel is 10% above unleaded around Colorado. Recently drove to California and averaged 51.1MPG, first leg was 687 miles on 3/4 of a tank. Why go hybrid or electric? Simple diesel lowers driving cost so low it is no longer the expensive part to driving. No service problems in 45K miles. My 30K service was only $400 with service before that paid by VW."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Woody on Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,250overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality of construction and ride. Comfort."
Cons: "Poor original tires."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car has a solid feel to its construction and ride. I have the manual 5-speed. It is fun to drive and handles well in corners and over bumps. The interior is quite comfortable. The lumbar support in the driver's seat is excellent. Features include dual climate zones, heated seats, roomy trunk and back seats, automatic headlamps, directional lights on the side view mirrors. etc. This an all-around very good car for the price. The gas mileage has been consistently 25-26 mpg combined. The only negative I experienced with this car was that the original Hankook tires were completely worn at 25,000 miles."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Kelly on Saturday, March 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy and great for long trips"
Cons: "Expensive to maintain"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"This vehicle is comfortable to drive, very roomy inside (the backseat area is large). It is nice that a refuel is every 600 miles or so, as well. The problem I am having is that with diesel fuel not that cheap, I am not saving money with driving this diesel vehicle. But the big thing is how expensive it is to maintain - have to go to a smog shop with special equipment, the 40,000 tune-up cost me $800 and the AdBlue additive for the engine is an extra expense. Overall, very nice to drive...but I drove my 2006 Jetta TDI for 100,000 miles and it not only handled better but not one time in 100,000 did I spend anything over and beyond regular tune-ups, a set of new tires, and a couple headlight bulb replacements. More is not always better.....(I still can't force myself to use the back-up camera for reversing, so that really is not a perk for me)"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Bob on Monday, March 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable - great milage"
Cons: "a few issues have had me at the dealer too often"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have just completed 14000 miles of winter driving in MI, WI and MN in a 2015 TDI SEL Passat. Best winter car I have ever driven and I have had AWD's before. Sure footed, very functional traction control and a very solid ride. Great Mileage at approx. 46 mpg highway and city combined (mostly highway miles). A few annoying glitches to begin with. The only complaint is the entertainment center/radio ridiculously slow and does not work at all in really cold temps. But on the other hand never had a problem starting in temps down to -30. I'd buy another one. Very helpful service department."
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By BOB on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "GREAT PRICE FUN TO DRIVE"
Cons: "SITS LOW TO THE GROUND."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I HAVE OWNED THIS CAR FOR TWO YEARS. IT IS DEPENDABLE RIDES SMOOTH LOW ROAD NOISE. IT IS THE MOST FUN TO DRIVE VEHICLE I HAVE EVER OWNED.THE SOUND SYSTEM IS WONDERFUL , STEERING WORKS VERY WELL. THE TURBO DIESEL IS VERY AGRESSIVE (WANTS TO GO) IT TAKES OFF AND IF YOU NEED TO PASS ANOTHER CAR IT GOES."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By LeslieBriar on Saturday, February 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've had 2 Jetta's in the past and I traded in my Jetta for a Scion tC.....not worth it. I was not happy from day one. So I went to the dealership Monday and traded in my tC for the 2015 Passat Sport 1.8T. I absolutely LOVE this luxurious vehicle."
8 people out of 22 found this review helpful