2020 Volkswagen Passat

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2020 Volkswagen Passat Review: Does The Basics Right

The Volkswagen Passat used to be a cushy, near-luxury alternative to mainstream midsize sedans like a Camry or Accord. But starting in 2011, Volkswagen realized that American buyers weren't willing to pay a premium for a softer car with premium materials, so it decided to offer a Passat specifically for the US market. Though it is based on the same platform and using the same engine configuration as the previous model, Volkswagen still calls the 2020 Passat a new generation.

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine maintains the same 174 horsepower from last year, but the torque has been bumped up to 206 lb-ft. Minor exterior improvements help the Passat to remain competitive in a very saturated market segment, though this is certainly amongst the plainest sedans available. The starting price of $22,995 will appeal to buyers who want the best value for money, and the large trunk and back seat serve as compelling selling points. But is a plain, roomy sedan enough to make buyers shy away from crossovers or any of the Passat's more boldly-styled rivals? We tested the top 2020 Passat SEL trim to find out.

Read in this review:

7.9
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2020 Volkswagen Passat Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Passat?

Most of the changes to the 2020 VW Passat are skin-deep, but there have been a few under the hood and in the cabin, too. The exterior appearance has been facelifted with all-new sheet metal, which has resulted in slightly altered dimensions over previous years. The front grille has been minorly redesigned and boasts a stronger chrome accent, while the character line has been shifted from the hood to the side of the sedan. LED headlights are now standard, with forward collision avoidance and blind-spot warning moved down to the base trim level. SiriusXM and App-Connect with smartphone integration are available on every model. The upgraded engine now produces 206 lb-ft of torque, a 12 percent increase over last year's model. The range's increased value is reflected in the base S model retaining its MSRP but having an extra $1,720 worth of extra content added to the standard specification.

Pros and Cons

  • Spacious rear seats
  • Large trunk capacity
  • Good standard safety features
  • Affordable price range
  • Plenty of torque
  • Engine sounds unrefined
  • Not a very fun driver
  • Despite updates, still looks rather plain
  • Small infotainment screen
  • Missing features found in some rivals

Best Deals on 2020 Volkswagen Passat

2020 Volkswagen Passat Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,995
SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$25,845
R-Line
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,645
SEL
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$31,095
See All 2020 Volkswagen Passat Trims and Specs

2020 Passat Exterior

2020 Volkswagen Passat Front View Driving Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Front View Driving 1 Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Rear Angle View Volkswagen
See All 2020 Volkswagen Passat Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 191.9 in
  • Wheelbase 110.4 in
  • Height 58.5 in
  • Max Width 72.2 in
  • Front Width 62.1 in
  • Rear Width 61.0 in
  • Curb Weight 3,325.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Aurora Red Metallic +$395
  • Pure White
  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Tourmaline Blue Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Reflex Silver Metallic

2020 Passat Performance

2020 Volkswagen Passat Front Angle View Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Wheel Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Taillights Volkswagen

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Driving the Passat isn't about having a thrilling experience. The steering is light but steady, making it ideal for cruising in a straight line down the highway, while the brakes are powerful and a bit sensitive to help you stop in a hurry rather than modulate speed or direction. The wheels offer enough grip to keep you confident on the road, but not enough to really have fun with, and there is no communication between them and the steering wheel.

The suspension is a bit on the firm side for a car that seems designed for town driving, but it does a good job of absorbing most road imperfections. It is smoother on the highway where bumps are rare, and, at these higher speeds, imperfections are dealt with more easily. The sedan is well-insulated against external noises, so it remains relatively quiet even when cruising.

Overall, the VW Passat is a sensible sedan, but it won't get your blood pumping, and pushing it to do so will only lead to disappointment. This is a car made for town driving and getting everything done in a day that you may need to. It isn't designed to satisfy wants.

2020 Passat Interior

2020 Volkswagen Passat Dashboard Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Central Console Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Infotainment System Volkswagen
See All 2020 Volkswagen Passat Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.4 in
  • Front Head Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.8 in

2020 Passat Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Volkswagen Passat Front Angle View 1 Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Side View Volkswagen
2020 Volkswagen Passat Side View 1 Volkswagen
  • Trunk Volume
    15.9 ft³

2020 Passat Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 20,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: 🏁Is the New Volkswagen Passat a good Sedan?

It must be said that we miss when the Passat felt like a near-luxury alternative to an Audi A6. Today, it just feels like a cheap imitation of its former self; one could say the Passat is to German cars what The Olive Garden is to Italian cuisine. In a time when most car buyers have already moved on to crossovers and SUVs, Volkswagen offers a sedan with only a massive back seat and spacious trunk as the key selling points, even though the Honda Accord trumps it in both categories while including a nicer cabin and gutsier engines. The 2020 facelift has not done much to improve upon the Passat's deficiencies, but the sifting down of more advanced features to the lower trims without increasing cost has definitely helped its appeal.

Even with that said, the Passat has some stiff competition in the form of the Honda Accord and Mazda 6, which each offer similar features and a better driving experience at a similar price tag. Not to mention other value options like the Kia K5 and Hyundai Sonata, plus countless other competitors in this segment that offer more power and nicer, albeit smaller interiors. With its facelift, the Passat looks a bit more stylish but it doesn't stand out from the host of similar sedans on the market. If you have your heart set on an affordable German sedan, the Volkswagen won't disappoint, but it won't really impress either. There are certainly better options out there.

2020 Volkswagen Passat Comparisons

Volkswagen Jetta Volkswagen
Honda Accord Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Passat174 hp24/36 mpg$27,575
Volkswagen Jetta 158 hp29/43 mpg$20,365
Honda Accord 252 hp22/32 mpg$26,520

2020 Volkswagen Passat vs Volkswagen Jetta

One class below the Passat, you'll find the VW Jetta, an eminently affordable everyday family sedan that follows similar construction and quality cues to its larger sibling. As standard, it gets a less impressive turbo four-cylinder engine that develops 147 hp and 184 lb-ft, but this also allows the sedan to deliver better fuel economy of 30/40/34 mpg, making it an excellent town car, much like the Passat. Alongside the sedan's smaller dimensions, this provides better versatility and affordability around the cramped streets and crowded parking lots that are the bane of city living. However, this also means that passenger and cargo space are not as abundant as they are in the Passat. Still, the Jetta is more agile on the road and delivers a more engaging driving experience. If that is something you want from your sedan, the Jetta GTI would win you over in a test drive, with its much more capable 228-hp turbo inline-four engine. But, if you need the extra space and desire the added comfort features, the Passat may still be the better choice for you.

See Volkswagen Jetta Review

2020 Volkswagen Passat vs Honda Accord

Perhaps the VW Passat's most capable segment competitor, the Honda Accord remains ahead of its rival despite the VW's latest upgrades. The Honda's 1.5-liter turbo four-pot delivers a more impressive 192 hp and 252 lb-ft (and up to 252 hp when equipped with the 2.0L turbo), giving it a lot more oomph around town, while still keeping costs down with an excellent fuel economy of 30/38/33 mpg. Add to this just how much more enjoyable and engaging the Accord is is to drive, and it becomes harder to see the Volkswagen as real competition. In fact, the Honda does just about everything the Passat does, only better. It is spacious and feels extremely upscale, even though it has a similar starting price of $24,020. It even offers more passenger and cargo space, which is perhaps the VW's strongest selling point. Overall, there really isn't anything that the Volkswagen Passat does better than the Honda Accord.

See Honda Accord Review

2020 Volkswagen Passat Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2020 Volkswagen Passat:

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