2013 Volkswagen Passat

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Volkswagen Passat. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    23-35 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    170-hp, 2.5-liter I-5 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Comfortable, composed ride
  • Five-cylinder drivetrain's refinement
  • Roomy cabin
  • Massive backseat legroom

The Bad

  • Steering lacks road feel
  • Hesitation with optional dual-clutch transmission
  • Five-cylinder's high-speed passing power
  • V-6 needs premium gas

Notable Features of the 2013 Volkswagen Passat

  • Choice of three engines, including a diesel
  • Diesel rated at 43 mpg highway
  • Optional Fender stereo
  • Built in America

2013 Volkswagen Passat Road Test

Kristin Varela

While the 2013 Volkswagen Passat's straightforward simplicity may not win over the tech-addicted, its massive rear seat legroom should certainly win over those who plan to use it for real live people.

The Passat was redesigned in 2012, and for 2013 has a few minor changes, namely a new center console with rear air vents in the SE and higher trims, and a backup camera in the SEL. Compare the 2013 version side by side with its 2012 predecessor here. Technically a full-size sedan due to its passenger volume, the Passat is priced to compete with midsize sedans like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Honda Accord. Check them all out here.

The Passat's trim levels include the base 2.5L S (which I drove), where the number refers to the 2.5-liter, five-cylinder gas engine. Higher trim levels include the SE, Wolfsburg Edition, SEL and SEL Premium, some of which also come with a gas-powered 3.6-liter V-6 or a 2.0-liter TDI clean-diesel four-cylinder. You can compare a few of these here.

Exterior & Styling
While the base Passat 2.5L S has 16-inch alloy wheels, 17-inch alloy rims are standard on the SE and SEL trims. Eighteen-inch alloys show themselves on the TDI SEL Premium and the 3.6 SE and SEL.

The Passat's styling probably won't turn many heads and might simply elicit a "meh," unlike the "oohs and ahhs" garnered by the sweeping lines of the Passat's sexy little sister, the CC. The Passat's exterior styling is a little bit pedestrian, part utilitaria...

While the 2013 Volkswagen Passat's straightforward simplicity may not win over the tech-addicted, its massive rear seat legroom should certainly win over those who plan to use it for real live people.

The Passat was redesigned in 2012, and for 2013 has a few minor changes, namely a new center console with rear air vents in the SE and higher trims, and a backup camera in the SEL. Compare the 2013 version side by side with its 2012 predecessor here. Technically a full-size sedan due to its passenger volume, the Passat is priced to compete with midsize sedans like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Honda Accord. Check them all out here.

The Passat's trim levels include the base 2.5L S (which I drove), where the number refers to the 2.5-liter, five-cylinder gas engine. Higher trim levels include the SE, Wolfsburg Edition, SEL and SEL Premium, some of which also come with a gas-powered 3.6-liter V-6 or a 2.0-liter TDI clean-diesel four-cylinder. You can compare a few of these here.

Exterior & Styling
While the base Passat 2.5L S has 16-inch alloy wheels, 17-inch alloy rims are standard on the SE and SEL trims. Eighteen-inch alloys show themselves on the TDI SEL Premium and the 3.6 SE and SEL.

The Passat's styling probably won't turn many heads and might simply elicit a "meh," unlike the "oohs and ahhs" garnered by the sweeping lines of the Passat's sexy little sister, the CC. The Passat's exterior styling is a little bit pedestrian, part utilitarian and certainly won't offend anyone on the road.

How It Drives
The Passat is easy to cruise around in, whether your daily driving adventures take you on a morning highway commute or on quick in-town jaunts throughout the day. The Passat's refined suspension manages to feel perfectly soft and comfortable without losing too much road feel or adding an unnerving floaty sensation.

The 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder I drove felt a bit underpowered when trying to punch it up to speed on the highway. Around town, however, this wasn't noticeable. In the 2.5-liter version, performance was simply average, which seems to be a common theme in this car. There's nothing bad to report, but, likewise, nothing necessarily stands out or revs my engine, either.

Of course, for drivers wanting a punchier feel to their ride, VW gives you the option of a 3.6-liter V-6 with 280 hp, as well as the more fuel-efficient and typically fun-to-drive turbo-diesel, which has 140 hp but 236 pounds-feet of torque, which is what really gets you going from a standstill. This spec is closer to the V-6 than the five-cylinder.

The 2.5-liter Passat comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission and gets an EPA-estimated 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined. An optional six-speed automatic transmission changes those numbers ever so slightly to 22/31/25 mpg. The 3.6-liter V-6 with automatic transmission takes this down to 20/28/23 mpg, while the automatic turbo-diesel gets a whopping 30/40/34 mpg estimate.

Interior
The Passat's interior is remarkably simple but somehow manages to avoid crossing the line into frumpy or plain Jane. As VW points out, "Nothing here is trendy or overdone." It feels timeless and is very practical.

Up front, the driver has access to in-door storage bins with bottleholders, two cupholders in the center console area and an open bin under the radio that held my phone and garage door opener. An additional small storage area keeps unruly small items like change and lip gloss contained. The center console itself is relatively small but houses an aux input jack for routing music from a phone through the car's speaker system.

The Passat's most impressive feature is its 39.1 inches of backseat legroom. In comparison, the Hyundai Sonata offers 34.6 inches and the Kia Optima has 34.7 inches. This is where the Passat really excels in its class. Even for an adult sitting in the back, there's plenty of space, and my husband was quite comfortable back there as I played the chauffeur in "Driving Miss Daisy." (Hey, don't judge — what we do behind closed doors is our business.)

This backseat comfort was further enhanced by a center armrest with cupholders, which was very handy for adults and kids alike.

Visibility was excellent without making me feel like I was in a fishbowl. I also really liked the sliding sun visors.

Ergonomics & Electronics
While many cars are adding excessive technology and, as a result, multiple steps to do the simplest tasks, the Passat S sticks to old-school buttons and dials in all the right places, including within thumb's reach on the steering wheel.

The audio system's functions were without confusion and didn't require the assistance of the owner's manual to get up and running within seconds. When shifting the balance of the sound to the rear, we could comfortably have an adult conversation up front while the kids grooved away in the back. The steering wheel's audio controls were also well-located and easy to manipulate by feel without requiring me to take my eyes off the road. Bluetooth phone pairing was also quite easy to configure, again without assistance from the manual.

Cargo & Storage
With 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space, the Passat's trunk feels plenty big for a family. You have the option to expand the trunk even farther by folding the rear seatbacks jointly, or just folding one side or the other. For comparison, the Kia Optima is on the lower end of this car class with a 15.4-cubic-foot trunk. Families needing even more space may want to turn their attention to the Hyundai Sonata and its 16.4 cubic feet.

Just as important as volume, the Passat's trunk also has a low sill that makes it easy to load and unload large, bulky and unruly sized items. Golf clubs, bags for sleepovers or luggage for a weekend road trip all fit very comfortably, with room to spare.

My family and I even tested the Passat's storage ability with a run to the local Home Depot, and it comfortably accommodated some 2-by-4-foot lumber and a small ladder. Customers, and especially families, have come to expect flexibility in their vehicles, and the Passat delivers in this department. For a midsize sedan, the Passat is an impressive mover of both people and stuff.

Safety
The 2013 VW Passat received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top label of Top Safety Pick Plus, having received the required highest rating of good in four out of five tests, and a rating of acceptable in the stringent new fifth test, the small-overlap crash test.

The Passat also received an overall rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a common rating among best-selling midsize sedans.

These ratings, combined with the fact that every safety feature is standard on every Passat, are comforting reassurances for a mom like myself who regularly chauffeurs three very valuable little packages.

In addition to all the standard safety features we'd expect in any 2013 vehicle, the Passat also includes an intelligent crash response system. This unlocks doors, turns off the fuel pump and turns on the hazard lights in the event of a collision.

Installing child-safety seats in the base Passat with fabric upholstery using Latch proved simple and straightforward. The lower anchors are visible within the seat bight, and the soft and malleable fabric seating surfaces make it easy to manipulate a child seat's anchors into place. Check out our Car Seat Check of the 2012 VW Passat, which also represents the 2013, here.

All three of the backseat's seat belt buckles are on stable bases, making it easy for kids in booster seats and those with limited dexterity to easily buckle up on their own.

See all the standard safety features listed here.

Value in Its Class
The Passat is great value for families in the market for a midsize sedan. You get ample seating and massive legroom for five, combined with a very flexible cargo space at a reasonable price. For those who want a little more voom, available upgraded engines and interior technology are accessible for a small price increase.

While the Passat might not come out on top in the sexiest-sedan pageant, it's a very practical and comfortable option for families on a budget.

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Latest 2013 Passat Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Volkswagen "big" sedan good for family hauler

by weaverj28 from Rochester on August 25, 2018

Got the 2.5 SEL Passat, wish I would've gotten the SEL premium due to the proximity key, which is nice for not having to dig through your purse. Great sound system(fender) but slow Bluetooth pairing. ... Read full review

(5.0)

Reliable, quiet and comfortable!

by Chadleymonster from Germantown, TN on August 6, 2018

Great car! Fun to drive, quiet on the highway and never had a problem with it! This is our second VW to own and hadn?t had a problem with either one. Lots of room inside for adults in the front and ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Volkswagen Passat currently has 5 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L S

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Overall Evaluation
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Volkswagen

Program Benefits

100+ point dealer inspection, 2 years of 24/7 roadside assistance, CARFAX Vehicle history report, and three-month SiriusXM All-Access trial subscription

  • Limited Warranty

    2018 model year or later: 1-year/12,000, 72,000 miles eligibility - 2017 model year or earlier: 2-year/24,000, 75,000 miles eligibility - 2016 model year or earlier TDI: 2-year/unlimited, 75,000 miles eligibility

    *See owner’s literature or dealer for your vehicle’s warranty coverage, exclusions, and limitations.
  • Eligibility

    2018 model year or later: 1-year/12,000, 72,000 miles eligibility - 2017 model year or earlier: 2-year/24,000, 75,000 miles eligibility - 2016 model year or earlier TDI: 2-year/unlimited, 75,000 miles eligibility

    Vehicles receive a 100+ point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Passat received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker