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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Volkswagen Passat

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Expert's Rating

5.0Excellent

MPG 23 City / 33 Highway
Pros
  • Upscale interior
  • Smooth ride on highway
  • Optional premium stereo system performance
Cons
  • Expensive options
  • Questionable reliability history
  • Bland styling
, Automotive Editor -
A serious threat to its Japanese rivals, the Passat is chock full of value and features an upscale interior and a solid, direct steering feel that is best in class.

Introduction

When Volkswagen redesigned the Passat in 2012, it aimed to make it a mass-market alternative to the best-selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord that combined the German characteristics of the company's previous models. Judging by the record-breaking Passat sales, this new, larger model is striking a chord with American buyers. It's a threat to serious rivals because of its wide array of engine choices that range from traditional five and six-cylinder gas engines to a unique-for-the-class turbodiesel that equals or bests some midsize hybrids. And on top of that, it's one of the most spacious cars in the class and puts some full-size entries to shame. That makes the Passat a great buy for people looking for a midsize sedan with room and class.

Passats are powered by one of three engines and come in three trim levels. The 2.5 models get a five-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The 2.0 TDI is a turbocharged four-cylinder clean diesel engine with 140 horsepower and either a six-speed manual on TDI SE or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission on other models. The most powerful engine, the 3.6 V6 with 280 horsepower gets only a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and is available on SE and SEL Premium trims. S cars come only with the 2.5 and have cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels, power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry, air conditioning, Bluetooth and a six-speaker audio system with AUX input. SE adds leatherette upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, power driver's seat, heated mirrors and front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and touchscreen radio with 8-speakers and satellite radio.

Features like premium audio systems, 18-inch alloy wheels and satellite navigation are also available on the SE in different packages, depending on the engine you choose. The SEL level adds to the 2.5 different 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood trim and a backup camera. The SEL Premium gets leather/suede seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start and memory settings for the driver. All Passat's are backed by Volkswagen's pledge of no-charge scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, something other brands in this segment don't offer.

The Honda Accord is very spacious and gets better fuel economy, but isn't as nicely finished and it's hard to get some desirable features without picking top trim levels. The Toyota Camry also gets better fuel economy and has good visibility, but isn't as good to drive and some interior materials aren't the best. The Hyundai Sonata has more adventurous styling and is good value, with lots of standard features, but its optional turbo engine isn't as smooth as the Passat's V6. The Ford Fusion also has distinctive styling and a range of efficient turbo engines that are available with all-wheel drive, but it doesn't have as much space as a Passat and can get very expensive.

The Passat isn't an in-your-face kind of car, but it tries to be pleasing on all levels and everyone should appreciate its tasteful styling and vast amount of room. And there's a model in the lineup for people who prioritize fuel economy or power or want a combination of both. It's also one of the few midsize sedans to still offer a manual transmission and offers one of the lowest starting prices in the midsize class with the piece of mind of no maintenance for three years and the added prestige of a German badge. Anyone shopping in this segment should consider a Passat.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.0L TDI SE

Recommended for: Drivers who want great fuel economy

The TDI SE gives drivers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that offers 140 horsepower and lots of torque, as well as an EPA-estimated 43 MPG on the highway. Like the 2.5SE, it gets upgrades over the base S that include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery and satellite radio. In addition, the TDI adds to the SE a six-speed manual transmission and electric power steering. TDI SE with Sunroof adds a six-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox and a power sunroof. TDI SE with Sunroof and Nav adds the touchscreen satellite navigation system, iPod cable, front fog lights, chrome exterior accents and 18-inch alloy wheels. The TDI SE offers a great entry into the Passat with generous amenities and the ability to take long journeys with the efficient and torquey turbodiesel engine.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.0L TDI SEL Premium

Recommended for: Buyers who want luxury features combined with outstanding fuel economy

The TDI SEL Premium gives buyers all of the luxury the Passat offers but with the added bonus of great fuel economy and an extremely long cruising range, making long-distance trips very comfortable. The SEL Premium adds to the TDI SE leather seats with suede inserts, Fender audio system, navigation with SiriusXM traffic and TravelLink, dual-zone automatic climate control, backup camera, 8-way power front passenger's seat with memory settings for the driver's seat and mirrors and keyless entry and start.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L S

Recommended for: Buyers looking for lots of space at a low price

The most basic Passat still comes well equipped even though it undercuts many competitors. The 2.5S gets the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and a five-speed manual transmission. Also included are 16-inch steel wheels, a trip computer, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows, locks with remote keyless entry and heated power mirrors, automatic headlamps, split-folding rear seat, height-adjustable driver's seat and a six-speaker audio system with streaming audio and an AUX input. The Appearance Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speed automatic transmission, dual lighted vanity mirrors and a rear center armrest.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L SE

Recommended for: Shoppers interested in more convenience features

The SE adds a lot of desirable features and also has access to even more options to make the Passat more comfortable. The 2.5SE adds to the 2.5S 17-inch alloy wheels, leatherette seats, heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat, touchscreen radio with HD radio and SiriusXM satellite radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear seat air vents. The SE with Sunroof adds six-speed automatic transmission and a power sunroof. SE with Sunroof & Nav adds a touchscreen navigation system with an iPod cable.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L SEL

Recommended for: Buyers who want more luxury features

The 2.5SEL brings a number of luxury features to make the Passat more upscale while keeping the low price and efficiency of the base five-cylinder. In addition to the 2.5SE, the 2.5SEL gets special 17-inch alloy wheels, Fender audio system, touchscreen navigation system, SiriusXM traffic for 4 years, SiriusXM TravelLink, dual-zone automatic climate control, backup camera, wood trim and a pass-through for the rear seat.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L SEL Premium

Recommended for: Shoppers who want a luxurious Passat

The SEL Premium gives buyers even more luxury features to add to the well-appointed SEL. The Premium adds leather upholstery with suede inserts, keyless entry and start, 8-way power front passenger's seat and memory settings for the driver's seat and mirrors, as well as front fog lights. That makes this level of Passat a good buy for people who don't need the added cost or efficiency of the TDI or the performance of the V6.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 3.6L V6 SE

Recommended for: Drivers who want smooth power from a V6

The 3.6SE gives drivers lots of power through a V6 engine. That engine is a 3.6-liter with 280 horsepower mated exclusively to a six-speed dual clutch transmission for quick shifts. The V6 upgrade also brings a standard power sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, Fender premium audio system, paddle shifters on the steering wheel and electric power steering. 3.6SE with Nav gets the touchscreen navigation system and an iPod cable. The 3.6SE is a great buy for people who want a fast midsize sedan and can do without some of the luxury features available on the more expensive trims.

2013 Volkswagen Passat
Starting price
$12,495

2013 Volkswagen Passat 3.6L V6 SEL Premium

Recommended for: Buyers who want a fast, luxurious family sedan

The 3.6 SEL Premium is the most luxurious Passat that also provides smooth and effortless power through the V6 engine. In addition to the 3.6SE, the SEL Premium adds leather seats with suede inserts, touchscreen navigation system with SiriusXM traffic and TravelLink, dual-zone automatic climate control, backup camera, 8-way power front passenger's seat with memory settings for the driver's seat and mirrors and keyless entry and start. With all of this equipment, the V6 SEL Premium could be considered bargain German luxury sedan with more room than even some much more expensive sedans.

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