2020 Volkswagen Passat is a redesigned sedan in a sea of crossovers

New styling on a revised platform

2020 Volkswagen Passat
2020 Volkswagen Passat / Image Credit: Drew Phillips
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Debuting at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat features new styling, new tech and added safety. Although it closes the door on its predecessor's longer-than-average eight-year product cycle, it rides on a revised version of the same platform and has the same engine under hood.

The 2020 Passat follows in the footsteps of its younger compact brother, the Jetta, which started a new generation for the 2019 model year. It has a sharper exterior design than the outgoing model and uses jagged lines and edges to give the otherwise sedate four-door a sportier look. A large widened grille and standard slim LED headlights give the Passat more presence and a lower stance, a theme that is continued in the rear with thin LED tail lamps and prominent badging. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, with 18-inch and 19-inch available in other trims.

As mentioned earlier, the new Passat will be offered with the same turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine as before. Horsepower stays the same at 174, but a new torque converter and updated software will give the car a bit more pep, boosting torque from 184 pound-feet to 207. A six-speed automatic transmission funnels power to the front wheels. According to previous discussions with VW, something similar to the Passat GT is possible in the future, but there's no confirmation.

At introduction, Volkswagen says there will be four regular trims, with a fifth Limited trim available only for the vehicle's launch. Depending on the trim, there are three interior designs available. The interior remains typically tight and simple German, but the dashboard, instrument cluster, and infotainment have been redesigned. Cloth, V-Tex (faux leather), and Nappa leather seats will be offered, with the choice of four color options. Notable options include available front and rear heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power-folding heated side mirrors, and adaptive cornering headlights.

The biggest change to the infotainment is a new glass-covered look. It still features several smartphone compatibilities, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. A premium Fender audio system is also available. It comes standard with forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, front automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, and rear traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and parking steering assistant are optional.

Using the same platform from generation-to-generation is not usual -- Toyota, for instance, is just switching over to an all-new front-drive platform after nearly 20 years. This particular platform, Volkswagen's New Midsize Sedan, was developed specifically for the North American market to be bigger and meet a lower price point than the Passat that would be sold in Europe. Given the decline in sedan sales and the Passat's less-than-stellar sales performance over the years, it's not surprising that a new platform wasn't engineered.

The 2020 Passat launches later this year, with first deliveries expected in the summer.

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