Susan Frissell, Editor,

Offered in three trims: S, SE, and R-Line the Passat is a fun midsize sedan, but not as quiet, comfortable as VW’s larger models. Pricing for the S model starts at $24,990, the SE, $22,990 and the R-Line, $30,990. All reasonable. The SEL was dropped from the lineup. A few weeks back, we drove and reviewed the VW Atlas, a different category, of course, but what a nice surprise the SUV is. Quiet, smooth and very comfortable; with a smaller SUV feel than it looks.

The Passat was given bold new styling features in 2020, including a coupe-like profile, “Tornado” line and larger, more dominant grille. The interior got a new dash design and up-graded materials. Standard features included 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, full LED lighting, App-Connect, Front Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert.

Volkswagen also added for the 2020 Passat year six-speed manual transmission-now standard on the R-line models, wireless charging standard on SEL models and above and next generation Car-Net and Wi-Fi standard on all models for model year 2020.

Available features on the Passat include 19-inch wheels, heated rear seats, Adaptive Front-lighting System, leather seating surfaces, Fender Premium Audio system, ACC, Lane Assist, and Park Assist. Competitors in this category include Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. Some tough competition.

Pricing starts at $22,995 and goes up to $31,545. Still within the fordable range for a car with racy fun. Our test Passat R-Line came in “hard to miss” red with a black interior. Volkswagen warranties are generous which may give some buyers peace-of-mind, although not as generous as the Korean competition.

Given that it is German engineered pleases many drivers, and pricing is clearly competitive. The Passat offers a lot of back seat room for passengers, or gear. It’s just remembering to climb over that door sill which is higher than most. The ride is comfortable. But the Passat seems dated in styling, a familiar VW interior, and a little more turbo punch would be appreciated.

Buyers can count on the up-to-date goodies to assist drivers, current infotainment features and emergency breaking, and blind-spot monitoring. Although the Passat’s exterior seems ‘dated,’ the modern technology is there. Fuel economy is competitive with others in the category, the four-cylinder just lacks some umph. With the new styling from Hyundai’s best sellers Elantra and Sonata, there is even more competition.

Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata offer hybrid versions, and Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry offer all-wheel-drive, a feature that becomes more popular every year.

Most changes in the Passat came in 2020, so no real changes in 2021, however a slight increase in pricing. Our R-Line comes with a power moon roof, which adds something high-end.

The Passat offers a very smooth, quiet ride for a smaller sedan, but a noticeable drag when punching the turbo. We can see this car appealing to college students, with plenty of room for their buddies, good fuel economy and high-end safety features. Enthusiasts may find the Passat appealing, as power aside, it resembles the ever-loved GTI.

Many available midsize sedans have shifted their styling and technology as they look for new customers in this competitive market. Perhaps VW still aims their vehicles-Audi included-to drivers overseas. In its eight generation of selling cars, VW has loyal followers, many who probably wouldn’t buy any other brand. Like all offerings out there, it depends on what you’re looking for. The Passat may not win any drag races, it appeals as a smooth and economical daily driver. And many buyers would argue, a dependable one.


Pricing: $22,995
Engine: 2.0L I4 Turbo, 174 hp., 206 torque, 16 valve
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, paddle shifters
Curb Weight: 3,325 lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy: 23/34/27 mpg.
Height: 58.0 in.
Length: 193.6 in.
Wheelbase: 110.4
Width: 72.2 in.
Fuel tank capacity: 18.5 gal.
Wheels: 19-inch alloy
Tires: 235/40R19
Warranty: Basic: 4 yrs/50,000; Basic Miles: 4 yr./50,000 miles, Drivetrain Length: 4 yrs/ 50,000 miles; Rust Warranty: 7 yrs; Roadside: 2 yrs/36,000 mi.; Free maintenance: 2yr./20,000 miles; Rust: 7 yrs/100,000 miles.