2012 Volkswagen Passat
Starting MSRP $20,590–$32,950
Our long-legged family of four normally doesn't mix well with midsize sedans. Thanks to the combination of my 6-foot-2-inch husband in the front row and two kids in full-sized child-safety seats in the backseat, someone is always making a compromise on legroom. However, the ultra-roomy 2012 Volkswagen Passat has ushered in an enlightened view of the midsize sedan for our family: We loved it and didn't want to see it leave.
The 2012 Passat has been completely redesigned, boasting a more spacious interior and discounted price; its large backseat, massive cargo area and crisp Fender sound system make it a family favorite. The Passat is also a favorite with Cars.com's editors who named it the Best of 2012.
This midsize sedan can be had with a gas-powered five-cylinder or V-6 engine or a diesel engine. My test car had the V-6. While the acceleration wasn't as sporty and responsive as its smaller sibling, the Jetta, it handled nicely and had no problems merging onto the highway. Potholes or bumps in the road were hardly noticeable in this luxurious sedan.
The Passat has an affordable starting MSRP of $19,995, but my test car, a V-6 SEL Premium trim level, was priced at a steep $33,720.
Overall, the Passat's exterior is appealing, but it lacks any real head-turning features. With its rounded edges, this curvy sedan gets lost in an automotive world filled with sharp lines.
From a mom's perspective, the most beautiful part about this car's exterior was my 3-year-old could not only open her own door but also climb into her child-safety seat with ease. Another family-friendly feature that won over my family was the humongous trunk. It seemed to go on forever, and it could easily accommodate any double jog stroller on the market. I was able to fit a guitar case lengthwise in the trunk with plenty of room remaining.
The Passat has three engine options. My top-of-the-line test car had a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired to a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission. It uses premium gas and gets an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg city/highway. There's also a 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline-five cylinder engine that uses regular gas and gets 30/40 mpg when paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. For the most gas-mileage bang for your buck, go with the Passat TDI. This trim has a 140-hp, 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel engine that gets 31/43 mpg when paired with a six-speed manual.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
After my family climbed into the Passat, we were shocked to find there was plenty of room for everyone. When sitting in her forward-facing convertible, my 3-year-old's feet weren't resting on the seat in front of her, and my husband could comfortably sit in either the driver's or front passenger's seat, which is unheard of in a sedan. After turning on the optional Fender sound system, opening the sunroof and heating up my front seat, the Passat quickly became our favorite sedan.
With sleek wood and leather accents, there is a definite feeling of luxury in the Passat. The standard dual-zone automatic climate controls ended the air-conditioning battle between my husband and me for good. The optional leather seats were comfortable enough; however, there was a soft seat insert called Dinamica that's meant to keep leather seats cool in summer and warm in winter. It's a novel concept, but my munchkins managed to stain this material in less than a week. That's why I prefer good old-fashioned leather that's easy to wipe clean.
On top of the premium sound system, my test car had an easy-to-use navigation system as well as Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. There were four cupholders and a decent number of small cubbies to hold my keys, cellphone and sunglasses. The backseat is split 60/40 to allow the transportation of larger goods that are too long for the huge trunk.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The 2012 Passat has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn the award, a vehicle must receive the top rating of Good in front, side, rear and rollover crash tests. The midsize sedan also received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Passat earned the top score of five stars in frontal and side crash tests and four out of five stars in rollover crash tests.
The shining star of the Passat's interior was the amount of second-row space that was afforded to my daughters and their child-safety seats. Both my forward- and rear-facing convertible car seats fit with no problems. The Passat has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the backseat that were easily accessible. An older child will have an easy time buckling up in their booster seat thanks to the stable seat belt buckles. For more info on child-safety-seat fit, see the 2012 Passat's Car Seat Check.
The Passat has standard front-wheel drive, antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Volkswagen Passat here.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||June 15, 2011|
|Joe Bruzek||Cars.com National||February 4, 2011|
|Sara Lacey||Mother Proof||March 30, 2012|
|BreAnn Ahara||Mother Proof||January 20, 2012|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||October 28, 2011|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||July 14, 2011|
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