Redesigned for 2006, the Passat is Volkswagen's midsize car and is available in both sedan and wagon body styles. Front- and all-wheel-drive models are offered. Competitors include the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.
For 2008, the Passat's trim levels have been overhauled; it's now available in Turbo, Komfort, Lux and VR6. Newly standard features include manual sunshades for the rear side windows, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a leather steering wheel and shift knob.
A medallion-shaped grille is installed on the Passat. The Passat's brakes have a wiping feature that removes moisture on the discs. A sport suspension and Volkswagen's Adaptive Front Lighting System are optional. Standard wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17- or 18-inch wheels are available. A power liftgate is standard on wagons.
The Passat has room for up to five people. The 60/40-split folding rear seat has a pass-thru provision. Sedan owners get 14.2 cubic feet of trunk room, while wagons have 35.8 cubic feet of cargo room. The Passat has an electronic parking brake, and the driver faces a four-spoke tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Simulated leather seat trim is standard, but leather upholstery is available.
Air conditioning and a CD stereo are standard. An in-dash six-CD changer, navigation system and park assist are optional.
Under the Hood
Volkswagen's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder develops 200 horsepower and 207 pounds-feet of torque. Either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic that incorporates Tiptronic manual gear selection can team with the four-cylinder engine. The 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 drives only the six-speed automatic.
The Passat is equipped with six standard airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional. All five occupants have adjustable head restraints, and the ones for front passengers are active. All-disc antilock brakes, brake assist, a tire pressure monitoring system and an electronic stability system are standard.
The V-6-powered Passat sedan is quick from a standstill and responds promptly and eagerly when passing or merging. Acceleration doesn't diminish much when the turbocharged four-cylinder is teamed with the automatic, and it's offset by greater fuel economy. Exhaust sounds are satisfying, but the V-6 is a little noisy while accelerating.
An undeniably taut sport suspension yields confident control and adept steering and handling without impairing ride quality too much. Bumps are commonly felt, but not too many are troubling. The ride isn't much different in four-cylinder Passats.
Ample glass aids visibility, but the mirrors aren't as useful as some. The car's deep-set, hooded gauges almost disappear at times on sunny days. The low cowl provides good forward visibility.
Front space is ample, and the seats are indisputably firm but adequately comfortable, though the wide console is close to the driver's knee. The sedan's rear headroom is sufficient and legroom is acceptable.