2020 Volkswagen Passat: A Modern Dinosaur Gets Updated

01-volkswagen-passat-2020-exterior--grey.jpg 2020 Volkswagen Passat | Manufacturer images

Competes with: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, the ceaseless marches of time and demand for SUVs

Looks like: The current Passat but a bit more stylish, like the designer of the CC or Arteon got to mess with it

Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (174 horsepower, 207 pounds-feet of torque); six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Summer 2019

As major manufacturers — and shoppers — abandon sedans in favor of SUVs, Volkswagen is clinging to the past with the Passat while hoping to scoop up shoppers who would’ve considered, say, a Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Impala before their respective manufacturers decided to cease making them. As such, Volkswagen is updating the Passat for 2020 instead of putting it out to pasture — but in a way that makes it look like the German automaker is hedging its bets.

Related: More 2019 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

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The 2020 Passat is making its debut at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where will be seeing it up close on the exhibit floor. Here’s everything we know at the moment.


The exterior of the Passat gets a full refresh, giving it what VW says is a “coupelike” roofline, which: sure, if we’re being very loose in our definition of “coupe.” Concept sketches had wheels that filled the entire wheel well, with seemingly no room for tires; production Passats will come with 17-inch wheels standard, while 18- and 19-inch wheels are optional. (Tires will be both standard and visible on production cars.) Teaser photos showed Continental ContiProContact rubber on the 19-inch wheels. LED headlights and taillights are both standard, and Passat badging runs the width of the rear.


The interior gets an overhaul, too, although it will still seat five like the outgoing Passat. The cockpit’s design is horizontally focused and features a new instrument panel, as well as a standard 8-inch multimedia screen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Cloth, leatherette and Nappa leather seating surfaces are available depending on trim level, with a total of four color options. Available comfort and convenience features include heated front and rear seats, a power driver’s seat with memory function and dual-zone automatic climate control. Rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, pushbutton start and remote start are also available.

Under the Hood

Like the 2019 Passat, the sole powertrain option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to the front wheels. Horsepower remains at 174, but torque has been increased to 207 pounds-feet from 184. According to Volkswagen, special launch trim models will have the less torquey 2019 engine.

Related: Here’s What the 2020 Volkswagen Passat Will Look Like


The Passat packs a host of standard safety features, like forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, as well as blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and a parking assist feature.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and in 2013 and became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera, and to turn his 2021 Hyundai Veloster N into a tribute to the great Renault mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive hatchbacks. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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