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John Diether
Automotive Editor - December 2, 2015

2016 Volkswagen Passat OVERVIEW

The mainstream family sedan with European flair, the Passat receives a host of upgrades this year to make it a stronger competitor to the segment's top sellers. While the car's fine German DNA is untouched, its trimmings and features are now more in sync with American tastes.

What's New for 2016

The Passat receives plusher interior trim and some new body panels for a more aggressive look. A rearview camera and color infotainment touchscreen are now standard, and advanced driver-assistance technology is available for the first time. A sporty R-Line model joins the lineup. The manual transmission has been dropped.

Choosing Your Volkswagen Passat

As before, the Passat starts out with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is now standard. With this setup, the Passat achieves an impressive 38 mpg on the highway, a 2-3 mpg improvement over last year. The available 3.6-liter V6 provides a boost to 280 horsepower and comes with paddle shifters and dual exhaust tips.

Trim levels correspond to engine choice:

1.8T S

Comes fully equipped with a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, automatic pre-collision braking, and a full-feature touchscreen infotainment system. The 1.8T S rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels.

1.8T R-Line

Adds sportier exterior trim and 19-inch wheels. The available Comfort package gets you a leatherette interior, heated front seats with driver power, heated side mirrors, and heated washer nozzles.

1.8T SE

Builds on the S with a sunroof, satellite radio, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats with driver power, 17-inch wheels, and an upgraded infotainment system with full smartphone integration. In terms of safety, you get adaptive cruise control and front collision warning with emergency braking.

1.8T SE w/Technology

Kicks up the tech quotient with navigation, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, keyless access and ignition, a hands-free trunk opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and rain-sensing wipers. Stainless steel sill plates and heated rear seats are also part of the deal.

1.8T SEL

Focuses on luxury with the addition of leather upholstery, dual power seats with lumbar adjustments, driver memory, stainless steel pedal trim, and a premium Fender sound system. The SEL also gets 18-inch wheels.

1.8T SEL Premium

Tops off the 1.8T range with active lane keeping assist, an automated parking system, and full LED exterior lighting (the latter is optional on lesser trims).

V6 SEL Premium

Gets all of the available 1.8T equipment, plus the 280-horsepower V6 engine.

CarsDirect Tip

With this year's additional standard equipment, the base S model makes for a perfectly acceptable family sedan, and we expect it to be quite popular with cost-conscious buyers. Even, so the SE reigns supreme in the lineup when it comes to features for the money.

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