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2020 Volkswagen Passat Video: Low-Key Updates Are Hit-or-Miss

20VW_Passat_bcframe.jpg 2020 Volkswagen Passat | Cars.com image

We got up close to the 2020 Volkswagen Passat at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where it makes its debut. The mid-size sedan gets a subtle refresh for 2020, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s still a 2019 because they pretty much look the same. However, there are a few key styling differences.

Related: More 2019 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

The differences start with the wheels: The new 19-inch alloy wheels on the R-Line version of the Passat are, we think, a big improvement over last year’s wheels. Up front, further design changes are hard to discern, but if you look closely, you can see there’s an extra bar in the grille, and the lower valence has also been opened up a bit to make the Passat look slightly more aggressive.

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Changes for the interior are similarly subtle. There’s not a whole lot different from the 2019 version — but what has changed, we actually think is a negative. You have the same-size touchscreen — 6.3 inches — but what VW has done is expanded the covering of it; what used to be physical controls on the outside of the screen to get to different things like radio stations, navigation or the home screen are now touch controls that are much harder to find while you’re driving. The controls look three-dimensional, but they’re just kind of flat, so there’s no way to differentiate between the buttons on the sides of the screen. That makes it much harder to use.

Related: 2020 Volkswagen Passat: Limited Updates Preserve Lasting Strengths

The engine for the 2020 Passat is a carryover, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 174 horsepower. However, it gets a new torque converter and some software changes that allow it to make more torque — 207 pounds-feet versus the outgoing model’s 184 pounds-feet. That’s a pretty big jump, and we think it’ll help with some of the qualms we had with the last Passat, namely that it doesn’t accelerate that well at speed. Added torque should help with that.

Watch the video above for our full impressions of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat, and be sure to follow along with our news team as we report all the goings-on at the Detroit auto show straight from the exhibit floor.

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