Vehicle Overview
The Passat comes in four-door sedan and station wagon body styles, and both are available with front-wheel drive or a permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system called 4Motion. During the 2000 calendar year, the Passat has nosed ahead of the New Beetle to become Volkswagen’s second best-selling model behind the Jetta.

Curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows to protect the heads of passengers in side collisions will become standard on the midsize Passat later in the 2001 model year. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats currently are standard equipment.

The Passat’s rounded styling borrows from the Audi A6’s design. Audi is Volkswagen’s luxury division, and the Passat is derived from the A6. The sloping front and rear pillars follow the same theme as the New Beetle’s design.

With an overall length of 184 inches, the Passat sedan is sized like a compact car on the outside, but the 106-inch wheelbase moves it up to the midsize class.

The Passat is roomier inside than most cars with similar exterior dimensions. Headroom is plentiful all around, though the power sunroof — which is standard on the GLX and optional on the GLS — reduces clearance to just adequate for taller passengers. Legroom is generous in front and more than adequate in the rear seat, which is split 60/40, folds for extra cargo space and can be locked to secure valuables in the trunk. Trunk capacity looks larger than the 15 cubic feet listed by Volkswagen.

A mix of striking blue lighting for the gauges and harsh red lighting for the stereo and climate systems illuminates the dashboard.

Under the Hood
The standard engine on the GLS model is a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 150 horsepower. Standard on the GLX and optional on the GLS is a 2.8-liter V-6 with 190 hp. Both engines are used by Audi and are available with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is optional on models with the V-6 and automatic transmission.

Driving Impressions
The Passat has more room than some midsize sedans and more character than most. All models deliver crisp handling, athletic moves and brisk acceleration. The GLX model’s standard equipment includes just about every feature expected on a luxury sedan, and Volkswagen throws in a 10-year powertrain warranty, 12-year corrosion warranty, and 2 years of free scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance.

Volkswagen’s European heritage, distinctive styling and hip image have made its cars favorites of younger buyers and the envy of several competitors. Can’t afford a BMW or Audi? Check out the Passat.

Reported by Rick Popely  for
From the 2001 Buying Guide