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.
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2016 Volkswagen Passat Overview
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:
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.
2016 Volkswagen Passat Review
There's no shortage of competent family sedans vying for your attention, but only one hails from the old country. The Passat offers a taste of authentic German engineering along with the room and features that American drivers expect in this class.
Pricing and Equipment
The sporty R-Line joins the stable this year, bringing the number of available models to six:
- The lineup starts at $22,440 with the 1.8T S, which comes with a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, automatic pre-collision braking, and a full-feature touchscreen infotainment system. The 1.8T designation stands for the four-cylinder turbo under the hood.
- For $23,975, you step up to the 1.8T R-Line with sportier exterior trim and larger wheels. The $775 Comfort package adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats with driver power, and heated side mirrors and washer nozzles.
- The 1.8T SE ($26,280) comes standard with the Comfort package features, plus a sunroof, an upgraded infotainment system, and adaptive cruise control. The $2,130 Technology package gets you a bundle of advanced safety and convenience technology as well as a navigation system.
- Priced at $30,495, the 1.8T SEL gets an upgraded interior with leather upholstery and a premium Fender sound system.
- The 1.8T SEL Premium tops off the 1.8T range with active lane keeping assist, an automated parking system, and full LED exterior lighting for $34,270.
- The $36,835 V6 SEL Premium gets all the available 1.8T equipment and a 280-horsepower V6 engine.
The Passat starts out with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is now standard. The available 3.6-liter V6 provides a boost to 280 horsepower and comes with paddle shifters and dual exhaust tips.
Performance highlights include:
- Fuel Efficiency: The 1.8-liter engine is more efficient than ever and now achieves 38 mpg on the highway, outstanding for this class.
- Steering/Handling: The Passat's steering is pleasantly light, but never feels disconnected. We felt firmly in control at all times.
- Ride Quality: Passengers enjoy a smooth, quiet ride not unlike that of an entry-level luxury sedan.
- At higher speeds, it becomes apparent that the Passat could use more insulation from wind and road noise.
- The V6 is certainly smooth, but doesn't affect performance enough to justify its higher price and reduced efficiency.
- No one will complain about elbow room, even in the back. The Passat's no-frills exterior styling permits enough space inside for adults to relax.
- The dashboard layout is refreshingly simple and highly functional. We grew to appreciate its business-like appearance as well.
- The lower portions of the door panels are clad in hard plastic, even on high-trim models.
- Neither the standard cloth nor available leatherette upholstery is exactly plush, and you have to cross the $30,000 barrier to get leather.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The 1.8-liter never felt the slightest bit lazy or overtaxed. It's an energetic little engine with terrific efficiency to boot.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
At best, the Passat looks conservative parked next to key competitors. Some will perceive it as dowdy.
The Bottom Line
The roomy Passat does more to entertain you with its performance than its style.
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