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#16

in Affordable Midsize Cars

MSRP: $21,120 - $35,660
Invoice: $20,253 - $34,198
MPG: 24 City / 35 Hwy
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Volkswagen Passat Performance

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat’s smooth highway ride, responsive handling and strong engine lineup impress reviewers. Test drivers are especially pleased with the TDI model’s peppy acceleration and excellent fuel economy.

  • "Some midsize family sedans strive to be sporty while others go for comfort. As with premium German-engineered cars costing thousands more, the VW Passat deftly splits the difference." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Overall though the Passat earns high marks for its relaxed refined demeanor in everyday driving." -- Edmunds
  • "Model refreshes tend to focus on fuel economy these days, but the base 2014 Passat's more robust powerband and enhanced flexibility make it more fun to drive-and prove that you can build a thriftier engine that's also satisfying at speed." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "You can tell there's some real handling capability in there that a sport-tuned suspension would tease out (cue the new-for-2014 Sport model), but the default setup is definitely geared toward comfort. Nonetheless, the Passat dances well enough -- and in ordinary driving, it offers a quiet cabin and generally excellent shock-absorption." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The base 2015 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T comes with a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The Passat TDI comes with an updated turbodiesel 2.0-liter engine that produces 150 horsepower. The Passat V6 has a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine. The Passat 1.8T comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is optional. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Passat TDI, and a six-speed automated manual is optional, while V6 models come standard with the automated manual transmission. According to the EPA, the 2015 VW Passat 1.8T gets 24/36 mpg city/highway with an automatic transmission, which is a bit low for the class. The 2015 Passat TDI gets 30/42 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class.

Critics say the Passat 1.8T has plenty of power and is faster than the Passat TDI, but add that the TDI still has great low-end power and fantastic fuel economy. Several say the TDI is their favorite engine for those reasons. The V6 model is also quite potent, according to test drivers.

  • "We think most buyers will be quite happy with the 1.8-liter engine. It's quick and smooth and provides good fuel economy. It's quicker than the TDI too but the latter boasts lively low-end power and returns truly extraordinary fuel economy and fuel range. For those who care more about high power than high fuel mileage the 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers much more enthusiastic acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite its small size, this [1.8-liter] engine has enough oomph to capably power the Passat. There is a bit of turbo lag, but putting the car in Sport mode helps alleviate the initial hesitation. Drivers seeking the most potency can step up to the Passat V6, which boasts 280 horsepower. Yet our pick for the Passat remains the TDI diesel, which offers loads of power and excellent efficiency. ..." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While the gasoline engines are very refined, and fine choices in their own right, the available TDI engine is one of this sedan's defining features. For drivers willing to consider a diesel engine, the TDI model delivers excellent fuel economy and overall performance." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Even though the Passat is several hundred pounds heavier than the Jetta, the 1.8-liter turbo's 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque move the mid-size sedan smartly enough, with something near half-throttle summoning the turbine for duty." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Handling and Braking

Auto writers agree that the 2015 Volkswagen Passat has a composed highway ride, even over large bumps. They also think it’s fun to drive on a curvy road, with poised handling and strong brakes. Critics say the Passat’s steering is accurate, though some wish it provided better feedback and was a little easier to turn at low speeds.

  • "On the highway it's smooth, solid and quiet. Point it in the direction of a twisty road, and you'll find a surprisingly entertaining driver." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The suspension is made up of struts up front and a multilink setup at the rear, and the handling is responsive and composed." -- Left Lane News
  • "On the highway all 2015 Volkswagen Passats are impressively quiet and comfortable snuffing out bumps large and small. Around turns the steering is reasonably precise although there's not much feel for the road and some drivers find it a tad heavy at low speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "Hustle the big, roomy sedan down a twisty back road, and you'll appreciate its balanced handling, good body control, and capable brakes." -- Car and Driver (2014)
Review Last Updated: 10/23/14

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