2017 Passat New Car Test Drive
Despite the fact that the Volkswagen Passat is the best-selling VW in history, greater even than the Beetle, it still ranks third in midsize competition, behind the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. After a light refresh for 2016, it hasn't changed in 2017. It's assembled in the United States.
It's a conservative and straightforward car, while still being a fine and handsome one. It's big for a midsize car, nearly 192 inches long with a 110-inch wheelbase. That enables 117.9 cubic feet of interior space, a bit less than Subaru Legacy's 119.6 cubic feet.
The Passat does very little wrong. It's powered by a fairly peppy turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic, with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive isn't available, nor is a diesel, because of the whole emissions cheating scandal.
The more powerful engine is a V6 making 280 hp and 258 lb-ft, mated to a 6-speed twin-clutch direct-shift gearbox, or DSG.
The 1.8-liter engine gets 23/34/27 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined, EPA-rated. That's fairly efficient for a four-cylinder turbo, but far behind hybrids from Chevy and Toyota. And still behind non-hybrids like the Hyundai Sonata (31 Combined), Chevrolet Malibu (30 Combined), and all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy (29 Combined).
The V6 gets 20/28/23 mpg, which is closer to V6 competitors.
Premium fuel is recommended, but Regular works. You just get a bit less power and fuel mileage. Those EPA numbers always come from Premium fuel when recommended by the manufacturer.
The NHTSA gives the Passat five stars overall in safety, with four stars in front and rollover crash protection. The IIHS gives the Passat its top Good scores in all of its tests, including the small-overlap front crash test. When equipped with optional active safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors, the Passat is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. A Poor rating for headlamps keep it from Top Safety Pick +.
A rearview camera system is standard, as is a post-collision braking system that helps lessen the severity of secondary collisions.
The 2017 Passat 1.8-liter comes in S ($22,440), SE ($25,495), and SEL ($30,995) models. Also available is the V6 and DSG in SE ($29,295) and SEL ($33,995). There's also a sporty Passat R-Line ($23,975).
Unlike many base models, the S is well equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, VW's newest infotainment with a 5.0-inch display, Bluetooth, a USB port, six-speakers sound system, fabric upholstery, split-folding rear seat. Options include LED headlamps, taillights, fog lamps, and running lamps.
The SE adds rear climate control vents, keyless ignition, leather trim, heated washer nozzles and side mirrors, additional leather and leatherette trim, leatherette upholstery, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, satellite radio, voice control, and an upgraded MIB II infotainment system with 6.3-inch screen VW Car-Net App-Connect.
SEL adds 18-inch alloy wheels, stainless steel pedals, Fender premium audio, power front seats with memory settings, sport seats, and a rear armrest with a pass-through to the trunk.
Upper trim levels of the Passat can include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and a new parking assistant.