Entry Price: $22,995
Price as tested: $30,445
This week, it’s Volkswagen’s 2018 Passat we’re testing, delivered in SE trim with a technology package as standard fare. Built by an American-based workforce in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Passat for 2018 still delivers the German-bred engineering one expects in a Volkswagen, regardless of where it’s actually built. It also features VW’s new 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder engine that puts out more power.
Volkswagen is utilizing the Passat as a midsize alternate that will soon sit alongside its all-new 2019 Arteon, a more expensive model that debuts soon at VW showrooms everywhere. Arteon will take over the discontinued Volkswagen CC’s top slot on the auto giant’s pecking order. Although Arteon will still be classified as a midsize sedan, it is indeed all-new from the ground up and nothing like the former CC or Passat. I can’t wait to get my hands on an Arteon for a test drive as the engine will also be a Turbo inline 2.0-liter four, but this time the engineers will tweak the turbo for a “bigger” fuel/air charge, resulting in 276 horsepower an anticipated run to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. (Sounds like my kind of car).
Now back to the equally impressive Passat.
Starting at just $22,995 for the entry S model, the aforementioned new for 2018 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder replaces the 1.8-liter turbo from last year. Coupled to VW’s sport mode six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters, our tester offered very good acceleration and surprisingly good fuel mileage estimates. Specifically, even with the bigger engine our Passat offers 25 city and 36 highway EPA fuel mileage estimates, which are better than past 1.8-liter engine applications of 23 city and 34 highway.
Since we’re discussing Passat’s past and present fuel mileage, notable is that the phased out turbo 1.8-liter that propelled last year’s Passat at one time replaced a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, which delivered just 21 city and 28 highway not that long ago. We applaud Volkswagen for continually improving both the performance and fuel mileage offered by the Passat models, of which seven distinct models are available at the VW showrooms.
Our tester’s bottom-line sticker came in at a final tally $30,445 including the $850 delivery fee, which upped the base SE Technology model’s entry retail of $29,595. This “no option” situation comes thanks to SE’s standard features that include 18-inch Bridgestone tires on nice Chattanooga alloy wheels, push button start, Auto Connect features for Android and Apple smartphones, Discover Media navigation with touch screen, Sirius/XM satellite, Cosmopolitan HD radio with CD player, power sunroof, rear camera safety system, and every power assist imaginable including the trunk. The Technology model also comes standard with the modern safety features like forward collision, park control warning front and rear, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive smart cruise, Bluetooth and more.
Although the 2.0-liter turbo four produces just 174 horses and 184 pounds of torque, don’t discount the acceleration capabilities once the turbo kicks in when you mat the throttle. Still, if you want more power consider Volkswagen’s 280 horse, 258 torque V6 Passat line starting at $29,145 in V6 GT trim. The V6 also powers the most expensive Passat, the SEL V6 Premium that starts at $34,650, but keep in mind performance has a cost. In this instance, the V6 fuel mileage drops to 19 city and 28 highway from the Turbo Four’s 25 city and 36 highway, which is a huge tradeoff.
Passat’s exterior offers solid good looks and is similar in some ways to the more expressive and aerodynamic Audi styling. Comparable to others in the VW family, most notably the Jetta, the grille still has the large VW logo while the rear deck is graceful and overall nicely done. It’s a very tastefully done design that portrays a nice touch of VW opulence in a more discreet overall package.
Inside, Passat’s cabin is well done with leatherette seating, heated front and rear seats, excellent rear seat legroom, dual zone climate control, ambient footwell and interior lighting, and a very nice gauge and dashboard layout. Notable is VW’s traditional firmer yet very comfortable seating and SE Technology models also feature wood and textured aluminum appearance interior trim, split rear seat with center armrest w/trunk pass-through, Halogen fog lights, and much more. Overall, when you select the SE Technology model, you’ll receive just about everything VW has to offer as standard fare.
Underneath, Passat’s suspension adheres to its VW/Porsche/Audi family doctrine of great handling automobiles, offering first-rate behavior in cornering and a cozy, tranquil freeway experience. The independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link rear allows steadiness regardless of road in front of you. Other safety items include four-wheel ABS disc brakes, all the airbags, traction controls and electronic brake assists.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 110 inches, 3,274 lb. curb weight, 18.5 gallon regular grade fuel tank, 36.4 ft. turn radius, 15.9 cu. ft. of trunk space and a 5.4 inch ground clearance.
Very important is the upgraded Passat new car warranty, which has been expanded from last year’s 3-year/36,000 overall and powertrain 5-year/60,000 miles to a new, bumper-to-bumper 6-year/72,000 mile deal for 2018. This assures consumers that Volkswagen has confidence in its product and the warranty is also transferable at no cost to the second owner.
In ending, Passat is worthy of the numerous automotive citations received, including Consumer Reports magazine’s “Best Overall Midsize” nod in its 2018 Buying Guide edition. Make sure you visit a VW dealer if shopping this segment.
Likes: More power, more MPG, better warranty, classy looks.
Dislikes: Entry S does not offer some higher tech safety options.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.
Test Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Passat
Entry Price: $22,995