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Volkswagen Passat

An American sedan with a German badge.

DIESEL

In cutting the Passat’s price by some $7000, Volkswagen achieved its biggest cost saving not in the interior (it is still quite nice) or the chassis (which provides a decent ride), but in the powertrain. The base engine in the 2010 model was VW’s highly regarded 2.0-liter turbo, which made a hearty 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque while returning 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Now we get the old 2.5-liter five-cylinder from the Jetta. Despite having one more cylinder, this is not an upgrade. The five musters only 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, and despite the lower power output, fuel economy is about the same (21/33). For buyers willing to spend a little more, better options exist: the fuel-miserly diesel TDI and the potent 3.6-liter VR6. The turbo-diesel four-cylinder returns an excellent 30/40 mpg with an automatic transmission and delivers power much more enthusiastically than any hybrid does. The VR6 is smooth and vigorous but not as efficient as, say, the turbocharged four-cylinder in the Hyundai Sonata. There’s evidence of cost cutting in the interior, but the cabin is still comfortable, attractive, and functional. It is a cavernous space with excellent visibility. The Passat deserves consideration from buyers who previously considered it too small or too pricey.

COMPETITORS

Ford Fusion

Honda Accord

Hyundai Sonata

Toyota Camry

new for 2013

Volkswagen signaled a new direction with the introduction of the 2012 Passat. There are no significant changes for 2013.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control are standard. The Passat comes with Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System, which responds to an accident by unlocking the doors, shutting off the fuel pump, and turning on the hazard lights.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 20–31

HWY 28–43

PRO

Plush ride

Efficient diesel engine

Acres of legroom

CON

Not as sporty as it once was

Interior has lost some of its exclusivity

Base Price Range: $21,640–$30,030

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: 2.5L, 3.6L, TDI

BODY STYLE: Sedan, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 2.0L turbo-diesel I-4, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft

2.5L I-5, 170 hp, 177 lb-ft

3.6L V-6, 280 hp, 258 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 102.0 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 15.9 cu ft

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