2018 Volkswagen Passat

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2018 Volkswagen Passat Expert Review

By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor

KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 2018 VW Passat is a spacious, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive midsize with high safety ratings. Volkswagen’s largest and most powerful sedan is offered in seven trim levels including the new Passat GT that gets sport trim, a lower sport suspension, 19-inch wheels and a 280-horsepower V6 engine, which is also standard on the top Passat V6 SEL Premium. Also new is a longer warranty which covers the sedan for six years or 72,000 miles. That’s longer than the warranties on competitors like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. Prices start just under $24,000 for the Passat S, which gets a 174-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s a smooth and responsive combination, which is also used in the Passat SE, SE Technology, SEL and R Line trim levels, and it’s rated an impressive 36 mpg on the highway.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2018 VW Passat is perfect for families because it offers one of the largest back seats in the midsize-sedan class and a spacious 15.9-cubic-foot trunk. It’s also available with long list of active and passive safety systems, and it’s rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for an all-wheel-drive midsize sedan, look elsewhere; all 2018 VW Passats are front-wheel drive. In this class only the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy offer AWD. Also, VW does not offer a Passat hybrid. For an electrified midsize, shop the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.2
  • 8.9
  • 8.3
  • 8.5
  • 7.4
  • N/A
How It Ranks


out of 15

Fuel Economy


out of 15

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2018 Volkswagen Passat Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

For 2018 the new VW Passat gets a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that is more powerful and more fuel-efficient than the 1.8-liter it replaces. The sedan’s longer 6-year or 72,000-mile warranty is also new. And there’s a new Passat GT model with a lower sport suspension, 19-inch wheels and 280-horsepower V6 engine.

Driving the Passat
2018 Volkswagen Passat Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

There’s an undeniable sporty side to the 2018 Volkswagen Passat personality, but comfort takes precedence in this sizable sedan. The ride is smooth and its spacious interior is quiet, even...

... on the highway, where wind and road noise are kept out of the cabin. Visibility is excellent, and the light steering and brakes are responsive. Overall, it’s a sophisticated drive. The Passat is also playful, and when the situation calls for it this Volkswagen shows an athletic side. The standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder offers excellent power, providing lively acceleration from a dead stop or when you're at speed. The 6-speed automatic transmission is bit dated compared to the transmission in some of the Passat’s competition, but it’s well-tuned and well-geared. Although the available V6 is expensive and much less fuel-efficient, its additional power gives the Passat a luxury-sedan feel. The dual-clutch automatic transmission which comes with paddles shifters is fun to control manually.

Optional on the Passat S and standard on all other 2018 VW Passat models, this package adds Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert as well as Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, which will apply the brakes for you in the event of a probable accident.

Standard on the top-of-the-line Passat SEL Premium, this system takes all the stress out of parking. Activate the system with the push of a button and Park Assist will steer the sedan into any parallel or perpendicular parking space while you control the accelerator, brake and gear selection.

2018 Volkswagen Passat Details
2018 Volkswagen Passat Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Seat comfort is high and the Passat’s driver’s seat is height-adjustable so shorter drivers can get properly situated. Fit/finish is excellent and the sedan’s interior has an upscale feel. VW’s designers resisted the urge to create a futuristic dash with daring shapes and overwrought digital displays. Instead, the Passat’s dashboard is simple if a bit traditional and the controls are well placed. It’s conservative, but it won’t look dated in just a few years. Rear-seat space is cavernous. There’s enough space for three Kobes and a Shaq back there. The infotainment system isn’t exactly class-leading, but it’s easy to use and offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as standard Bluetooth.

2018 Volkswagen Passat photo

Attractive, clean and understated, the exterior of the 2018 VW Passat never shouts or raises its voice. There’s a quiet elegance to its simplicity. But look more closely and you’ll notice artistic details like the intricate sculpting of its hood and doors, its fully chromed 4-bar grille and the aggressive rake of its windshield. LED headlights and taillights are available. Opt for the Passat R-Line or the Passat GT and you get unique front- and rear-end treatments and 19-inch alloy wheels for a true German sports-sedan stance. The GT also gets a lowered ride height, red brake calipers and blacked-out roof, side window trim and rear spoiler.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base 2018 Passat S comes with a long list of standard equipment that also includes a 174-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights, infotainment system with 5-inch display, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, rearview camera, 60/40-split-folding rear seat and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Cloth upholstery is also standard, as are power mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels and a power driver’s seat with manual-adjustable lumbar support. Move up to the Passat R Line or SE and you get V-Tex faux leather, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Optional Equipment

Buy a higher trim, get more stuff: That's the way the 2018 VW Passat options list generally works. There are few stand-alone options. The R-Line adds a sporty appearance package and larger 19-inch wheels. The SEL Premium is the full-boat model, with a moonroof, leather seats, premium audio and other traditional upgrades. There are also luxuries such as the radar-based smart cruise control and semi-automatic parallel parking, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available on any Passat equipped with the VW Car-Net system. The SEL is the only trim offered with the turbo engine or the V6. The 2018 Passat GT gets a lower, sport-tuned suspension and the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V6.

Under the Hood
2018 Volkswagen Passat Engine photo

VW is out of the diesel business, and the 2018 VW Passat is not offered as a hybrid. Most trim levels get the new more powerful and fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission. This combination delivers plenty of performance and 36 mpg on the highway, a solid showing in this class. If you need more power, there are 280 horses under the hood with the 3.6-liter V6 engine. It's mated to a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, both of which combine to deliver even more European sports-sedan feel. All Passats are front-wheel drive and both engines run on less expensive regular grade gasoline.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
174 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway 25/36 mpg

3.6-liter V6 engine
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway 19/28 mpg

The bare-bones 2018 Volkswagen Passat has a reasonable Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $23,000 including the $850 destination charge. However, we suggest starting at least at the mid-level R-Line model, which gets you more standard equipment for a bit less than $26,000. SE models start around $27,300, and a leather-clad SEL starts around $32,500. The top V6-powered Passat SEL is about $35,500. On a features-per-dollar scale, the Passat costs more than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The Passat's weak reliability record contributes to lower resale values and higher long-term ownership costs, an unfortunate trade-off to one of the most affordable new European sedans money can buy. Make sure to check the Passat's current Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com before heading off to make your deal.

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