The mid-sized Volkswagen Passat sedan may be getting on in years but its handsome lines, comfortable ride and spacious interior have kept it popular against some newer and more advanced competitors. To help keep it competitive, for 2018 the Passat receives a more powerful and efficient base engine as well as some new trim options.
The restrained exterior styling of the Passat extends into the cabin too, a high level of fit and finish is evident throughout and the materials may not be as plush as what you would find in more luxurious German sedans, they look good and are well up to the class standard.
Interior space is a big drawcard for the Passat, occupants front and rear will have no trouble getting comfortable and there is plenty of head and kneeroom for taller adults in the back. The trunk is big and opens up to reveal a wide and relatively flat load space. The rear seats fold down if bulky or long items need to be transported.
The Passat is competent on most road surfaces, the steering, brakes and suspension all work together to provide unflustered progress although those looking for that engaging driving experience that higher-tier German sedans are known for will walk away disappointed.
Rivals like the newer Mazda 5 and Honda Accord also offer a sportier driving experience, but if ride comfort and relaxed driving is more your thing then the Passat is an ideal choice. Perhaps avoid the R-Line 19-inch wheels as these hurt the ride quality and won’t make your car handle any better.
For 2018 the Passat receives a new 2.0-liter turbocharged base engine that now provides 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While torque remains the same, power is up by 4 hp and claimed consumption figures also improve from 23/34 mpg in city/highway driving to 25/36 mpg which is now more competitive with the opposition. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Performance is as good or better than the base offerings in other mid-sized sedans and if you want more power, the 3.6-liter V6 is there to provide it. It comes with a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission and 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The big V6 gives the Passat much improved acceleration although your economy figures will plummet to 19/28 mpg in city/highway driving.
The 2018 Passat is available in S, R-Line SE, SE with Technology, SEL Premium and V6 SEL Premium trim levels. The base S offers 16-inch wheels, 8-way power driver’s seat, cloth seating surfaces, 5-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, USB port and Bluetooth compatibility, dual-zone climate control and auto-headlights. A driver assistance package is available which includes forward collision warning and a blind spot monitor.
The R-Line Trim adds heated side mirrors, heated front seats, larger 6.3-inch touchscreen with VW Car-Net App-Connect which supports smartphone integration and R-Line styling details. An R-Line lighting package adds LED lighting front and rear.
In addition to this the SE comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, 3 USB ports, dual-zone climate control, blind spot monitor, heated front seats with power driver’s seat. SEL adds 18-inch wheels, keyless access, sunroof, navigation system, 12.3-inch virtual cockpit and adaptive cruise control.
The SE includes the R-Line options excluding the R-Line detailing and trades in the 19-inch wheels for 17-inch items. It also adds keyless access with push button start, power sunroof and a blind spot monitor. The SE lighting package adds LED head and taillights.
SE with Technology Trim includes all of the above and adds remote start, park distance control, hands-free trunk opening and a touchscreen navigation system. SEL Premium Trim can be had in both the 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter V6 engine options and adds leather seats, Fender premium audio system, LED Headlights and the V6 also gets lane departure warning as standard.
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat still offers superb interior space and a good ride quality allied to a smooth driving experience, a new base engine offers improved economy and there is still a big V6 for those wanting more power. What you won’t get is daring styling or a sporty driving experience but that should not be an issue for most shoppers interested in a Passat. You will have to opt for one of the higher trim levels to gain access to the more desirable safety and technology features though.