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2008 Volkswagen Passat
Avg. Price Paid:$7,661 - $12,937
Original MSRP: $23,990 - $38,000
MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy
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2008 Volkswagen Passat Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Volkswagen Passat was new.

According to many, the Passat delivers spirited performance and competent handling, making for an all-around good driving experience.

However, reviewers say the Passat's good powertrain and a sporty suspension don't compensate for less than stellar brakes. Still, "at all trim levels, Volkswagen's new Passat offers far more than what is expected of a midsize sedan," says The Auto Channel.

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Volkswagen Passat is available in a few different powertrain combinations. The Turbo, Komfort and Lux models all receive a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine with either a six-speed automatic Tiptronic ® transmission or manual transmission with hydraulic clutch. This engine makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Passat's VR6 trim has a 3.6-liter, six-cylinder, FSI engine that makes 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. The VR6 also has the option for an automatic or manual transmission.

Reviewers were pleased with both engines, but are especially impressed with the Passat's four-cylinder. Edmunds calls it "smooth and powerful" and notes that it gives "V6-like acceleration." MSN says "the zippy power came on in a strong, steady fashion when I wanted to get around slower cars or merge safely into traffic. The car felt fun and sprightly at times." Consumer Guide says the four-cylinder is "sprightly from a stop, impressive in midrange and highway passing." Despite the engine's power, some felt that the 2.0-liter wasn't perfect for the Passat, given the vehicle's size. "While the 2.0-liter turbo is arguably the automaker's best all-around engine in terms of bang for the buck, for obvious reasons it doesn't feel as quick in the Passat as it does in smaller models," says Forbes.

The EPA estimates the Volkswagen Passat Sedan with a manual transmission earns 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway, while the automatic transmission gets 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The Passat 3.6 with an automatic gets 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg in the highway. The Passat 3.6 4Motion has an estimation of 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg in the highway. "Too bad, though, that pricey premium fuel is recommended for full performance," says MSN. U.S. News' reviewer Rick Newman adds, "Premium fuel shouldn't be required on a mid-market sedan."

Handling and Braking

The Passat's steering and handling were high points for many reviewers. MSN says the Passat has a "fine road-handling personality" and adds, "I'm not sure what I liked best -- the zippy power from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder or the way the front-wheel-drive Passat 2.0T test car stably managed twisty roads." New Car Test Drive adds "the new Passat offers sportier handling than last year's model. The steering is very precise with steering effort that automatically adjusts to the situation."

Passat models come with front McPherson struts with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar. In the rear is an independent four-link suspension. "Providing a stable platform for the powertrain is a beautifully balanced chassis, optimized by a multi-link rear suspension that delivers a new level of handling control," says New Car Test Drive. Overall, reviewers praise the vehicle's suspension. "The fully-independent suspension (McPherson concept up front, multi-link in rear) provided safe, secure cornering but we noted that road rumble was very audible on poor surfaces," says About.com.

Several road testers noted disruptive noise levels. "Then there are those noises. Many sounded like they originated somewhere in the suspension, but we could not pinpoint from exactly where," says AutoWeek. To Car and Driver, there was "a level of road noise, and harshness to go with it, that's not acceptable in a car with a premium price." Some thought the sporty ride may be too rough for the family-oriented midsize sedan market. The Boston Globe reports "highway travel was quiet and swift, although on lesser roads with some chop to them, there was a bit of suspension thump that surprised me." Other reviewers felt the bumps but weren't too concerned by them. Cars.com says, "An undeniably taut sport suspension yields confident control and adept steering and handling without impairing ride quality too much. Bumps are commonly felt, but not too many are troubling."

The Passat offers power-assisted front-vented disc and rear solid disc brakes and an anti-lock braking system (ABS). Reviewers thought the brakes were adequate, but that the pedal feel wasn't. "The four disc brakes decelerate the car adequately, but the spongy pedal travels a fair distance toward the firewall before answering your call," says Automobile Magazine. Several reviewers disliked the brake response. "Brake feel is also not the best," says Edmunds. "The Passat's brake pedal is a little soft with a long throw and there's a fair amount of ABS system noise. The car stops very precisely, however, with minimal dive, excellent straight-line stability and short distances. From 60 mph our tester stopped in 124 feet." Several other reviewers echoed this. "Stopping distances are good, but the brake pedal is too soft," says MSN.

Review Last Updated: 3/10/09

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