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2012 Volkswagen Passat

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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 190 Ratings for the 2012 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.8/10

Great car, great value

By on Thursday, July 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive"

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

"We purchased this car new. It has not been a disappointment. Recently took the car on a 2500 mile trip. Completely comfortable trip. The car has lumbar support when needed for a long trip. Great acceleration when needed it is there. No lagging. Gas mileage avg 38 mpg.. Would definitely purchase again"

Best Passat Yet and American

By on Friday, July 8, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fit, finish, mpg, ride, handling, quiet,"

Cons: "Dieselgate"

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

"This is my second Passat a TDI. My first was a 2003 6 cylinder. This is also my 5th VW. Had a 09 Jetta TDI, 03 Jetta diesel, and 2002 Bug. I like the handling and build of VW's. I do a lot of driving and all have been great road cars. My 2015 Passat SE TDI is the best yet and made in America right in my home state. This car has great road manners, fit and finish is the best. I drove this car from Tucson to Cookeville packed to the gills and still got 50 mpg. Love the backup camera all cars need this. The car is so quiet on the road. The transmission and engine are a perfect match. I drive it mostly in the economy mode. It's no slug and I still get great mpg. This car is not boring like a Camry or Accord and its not a BMW but then I didn't pay for a BMW either. I've had an issue with the check engine light. The fault says too much oxygen, probably part of the EPA issues. Now I wait and see what or if there is a fix and what it will do to the economy and performance."

A whole lot of vehicle for your dollar

By on Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 850

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive whole lot of vehicle that looks great"

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

"I've owned the Passat SE with the lighting package for just about a month. My wife and I recently took our Passat on a two hour trip from CT to Newport, RI and experienced a smooth and comfortable ride while getting 38 miles to the gallon. The 1.8T turbo engine has provided better acceleration than expected, similar to my Saab turbo, and Lexus ES300 which we traded in. The entertainment system, including apply play gives you technology rivaling your high end European and Japanese imports. We also test drove the Volvo T5 prior to deciding to purchase the Passat. My black Passat looks sharp, the cabin is spacious and the ride is very enjoyable. I continue to look forward to my daily ride home from work in my Passat. This has been a very nice buy for me and my family, especially with all the VW incentives available. You will enjoy all this vehicle has to offer. Give it a try. You may be impressed with the German engineering behind this vehicle. I was and am now a first time VW owner."

10 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Best Passat Yet!

By on Monday, June 27, 2016

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

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great Price, Exciting to drive, more features"

Cons: "none!"

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

Best graduation gift to myself!

"This is my second Passat and safe to say I am a proud VW owner. From my moving up from my 2013 Passat to the 2016, a lot has changed. I now have better driving capabilities and steering. LED head and tailings, apple carplay, and better interior finishes. The car handles a little better as well as fuel economy still blows me away! You get a lot for your money and get german engineering at its finest! Wouldn't go into anything else in this price range!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best graduation gift to myself!

Best car I have ever owned

By on Sunday, May 8, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,326

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Workmanship, fuel mileage, interior design&room."

Cons: "Carpet, sun visors,"

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

"Bought new in Sep of 2013. Came down to this TDI or a Honda Accord. Drove both, and evaluated both for over a mouth. We have 4 Hondas in the immediate family which I service, combined over 600,000 miles. Nothing but good to say about Hondas. My Son-I-L, who is quite a car guru, suggested we consider a Passat CC. At the dealership the young salesman almost insisted we drive a Passat Diesel. Having owned an Olds Diesel back in 1979, I had no desire to consider a diesel of any nameplate. Did not like the CC, so we drove the TDI-SE. Loved the car. Large interior, large trunk, plenty pep in the normal driving range. And 40+ mpg. After much reading and comparing, and re-driving the Honda, we bought the Passat TDI-SEL Premium. After 67,000 miles I am still in love with this TDI-SEL. Yes, it has issues..small ones compared to all the major assets. The carpeting is cheap. The GPS/Entertainment system is slow. But I like the way the entertainment system integrates the different functions...very user friendly, but slow. This is overshadowed by superior workmanship and drive-ability. What is not to like about 45mpg overall average ! Makes you want to go for a drive, which is what I think I will do right now."

11 people out of 14 found this review helpful

a polluting disaster

By on Thursday, April 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
4/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
4/10

Cons: "can't recommend since it's illegal to even buy"

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

"looks good...drives well.....and pollutes the atmosphere every time I am forced to drive it... disappointed with VW would be an understatement"

12 people out of 45 found this review helpful

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