2009 Passat New Car Test Drive
The Volkswagen Passat is a mid-size European sedan similar in size to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
Passat benefits from precise steering, with effort that automatically adjusts to the situation. Its optional six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive, and its brakes are excellent.
The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 200 horsepower that should satisfy most needs, while returning 23/32 mpg according to EPA City/Highway estimates when equipped with the standard six-speed manual transmission. The optional 3.6-liter narrow-angle V6 growls when pressed and delivers robust torque, allowing the Passat to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.
The Passat boasts mid-size sedan practicality. It offers plenty of interior room, particularly for back-seat riders, so a six-foot passenger can sit behind a six-foot driver. It boasts generous standard content and a beguiling mix of high-tech and haute couture. And while the previous model was among the safest cars in America, the structure of the latest Passat is substantially improved.
Buyers can choose a sedan or station wagon. The Passat Wagon offers 35.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity, and returns an EPA-estimated 18/26 mpg City/Highway even though it is equipped with all-wheel drive.
The current-generation Passat was introduced for the 2006 model year and is longer, wider, and more mature than the previous-generation. The Passat Wagon followed for 2007. For 2008, there are no mechanical changes and no styling changes, aside from new wheels and colors. There have been revisions to the lineup for 2008, however: Base models are better equipped for 2008, base wagons can be ordered with manual transmission. For 2008, all V6 wagons come with all-wheel drive. The 2008 Passat lineup is divided into more trim levels with fewer options and packages than previously.
The 2008 Volkswagen Passat is offered as a four-door sedan or five-door wagon. Both are available with a 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 280-hp, 3.6-liter narrow-angle V6 Volkswagen calls the VR6. Base four-cylinder sedans or wagons can be ordered with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Upmarket models and VR6s come with the automatic only. VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive is available on the VR6 sedan and standard on the VR6 wagon.
2008 Volkswagen Passat lineup: 2.0T ($23,990), automatic ($25,065); 2.0T Wagon ($25,200), automatic ($26,275); Komfort sedan ($27,900); Komfort Wagon ($29,100); Lux sedan ($30,100); Lux Wagon ($31,300); VR6 sedan ($36,050), 4Motion ($38,000); VR6 Wagon 4Motion ($39,200).
The Passat 2.0T comes with leatherette-upholstered front bucket seats that are power-adjustable 12 ways on the driver's side and manually adjustable 8 ways on the passenger's. Increasing interior utility are 60/40 split/folding rear seats, in the sedan as well as the wagon. Climate control and a pollen filter are standard, along with power windows; an electronic parking brake; central locking; heated outside mirrors; an eight-speaker stereo with in-dash CD player, MP3 capability, and an auxiliary input jack; three auxiliary power outlets; and 215/55HR16 all-season radials on 16-inch alloy wheels.
The Komfort models add a power sunroof; premium audio with 6CD changer, satellite radio, and controls on the steering wheel; compound sun visors; ambient lighting; and 235/45R17 tires on 17-inch alloy wheels. Automatic transmission is standard.
The Lux models upgrade to real leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 12-way power passenger seat, three-position memory for driver's seat and exterior mirrors, auto-dimming inside mirror, HomeLink, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and Park Distance Control.
V6-powered models are called VR6 or 3.6L, and now come in a single, flagship-grade trim level. All come with all Lux features plus leather sport seats, Dynaudio premium sound, bi-xenon headlights, heated washer nozzles, sport suspension, and 235/40R18 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Options include heated front seats ($225) for the Turbo and Komfort. Dynaudio premium sound ($1,000) is available on Lux. DVD navigation ($1,800) is optional on Lux and VR6 (depending on other equipment, the navi may displace the CD changer or eliminate MP3 capability). An iPod adaptor ($199), replacing the stereo's auxiliary input, is optional on all models.
Safety features that come standard on all models include front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger, side curtain airbags, four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist, speed-variable electromechanical steering, electronic stability control (ESP), tire-pressure monitor, and a security system. Rear-seat side-impact airbags ($350) are optional on all models.