2001 Passat New Car Test Drive
Volkswagen's Passat has been completely redesigned for 2002. Though the Passat gains bolder contours and new lights front and rear, this new model goes well beyond a styling revision. Volkswagen claims the only parts not changed are the roof and the doors. The chassis is 10 percent stiffer and the base engine has gained horsepower and torque, at low rpm where it's needed for quicker acceleration from intersections and robust response around town. Advances inside include new styling and new side curtain airbags.
Conflicting U.S. and European laws forced Volkswagen to launch its new Passat as a 2001 model, despite the old Passat having been sold since the fall of 2000 as a 2001 model also. To deal with this, Volkswagen's marketing people have dubbed the new Passat a '2001.5' model, a convention we'll follow to avoid confusion. Rush to your dealer and you may see the Passat being sold as a 2001.5; we view this as a 2002 model, however. We expect few changes between 2001.5 and 2002, except for the availability of an exciting new engine.
The new Passat is available as a four-door sedan and a four-door station wagon. It comes with a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder engine or V6. Two trim-levels are available, GLS and GLX. It can be ordered with or without VW's all-wheel drive system, called 4Motion. Naturally, you can't order a la carte, and the menu allows only certain substitutions. And there's a significant range in prices.
The entry level Passat is the GLS sedan powered by the VW-Audi 1.8T turbocharged four-cylinder. Listing at only $21,750, it's a well-equipped bargain. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, rear window and side mirror defrosters and even a multi-function trip computer. The wagon version has a base price of $22,550 and has a 39 cubic foot cargo capacity.
GLS is also offered with 190-horsepower V6 with either a standard 5-speed manual or optional 5-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shift control. The automatic is required to get VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, currently offered only with the V6. So equipped, the GLS lists for $27,075. GLX equipment listed below is available as options on GLS.
GLX trim is top of the line, with standard features including leather front and rear, wood trim, electronic climate control, Monsoon audio, heated power driver and passenger seats, a power glass sunroof, and 16-inch alloy wheels. GLX is offered only with the V6. Equipped with 4Motion all-wheel drive, the base price for the GLX is $31,575. The equivalent wagon retails for $32,375. The only options available for the GLX are the automatic transmission, no-charge metallic paint, and a dealer-installed six-disc CD changer and in-dash CD-player.