2015 Volkswagen Passat

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2015 Volkswagen Passat. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    23-35 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    170-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (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

  • Acceleration
  • Composed ride
  • Roomy cabin, especially backseat
  • Cabin quality
  • Observed mileage (1.8T)
  • TDI clean-diesel

The Bad

  • Advanced safety options not available
  • Some faux leather choices unconvincing
  • V-6 requires premium gas
  • Some find ride too firm
  • No all-wheel drive

Notable Features of the 2015 Volkswagen Passat

  • Turbo 1.8-liter gas engine
  • Diesel engine available
  • Fender stereo available
  • Built in America

2015 Volkswagen Passat Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

Three model years after winning Cars.com's Best of 2012 Award, the 2015 Volkswagen Passat remains a compelling family sedan, offering above-average space, mileage, drivability and quality.

In Cars.com's recent test of 10 family sedans, the $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge, a Passat 1.8T SE took third place, an impressive showing behind two models redesigned for 2015: the first-place Hyundai Sonata Sport and the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium. The remaining seven contestants — which the VW dominated — have likewise been redesigned since 2012.

The Passat comes with a choice of three engines: a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder in 1.8T models; a 3.6-liter V-6 in 3.6L models; and a clean-diesel, 2.0-liter four-cylinder in TDI models. Trim levels include the base S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, Sport and SEL premium. Manual and automatic transmissions are available, depending on trim level. All Passats have front-wheel drive.

How It Drives
The Passat topped the acceleration ratings in our Challenge. Even with a turbocharger, the 1.8-liter engine might seem small for a car of this size, but its horsepower and especially torque output compare to the competitors, and the VW is admirably lightweight; only one sedan in the test was lighter as equipped. Combined with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission, the engine gives plenty of off-the-line power, and passing power is also on tap at a moment's notice. Drivers who want a sportier experience can easily act...

Three model years after winning Cars.com's Best of 2012 Award, the 2015 Volkswagen Passat remains a compelling family sedan, offering above-average space, mileage, drivability and quality.

In Cars.com's recent test of 10 family sedans, the $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge, a Passat 1.8T SE took third place, an impressive showing behind two models redesigned for 2015: the first-place Hyundai Sonata Sport and the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium. The remaining seven contestants — which the VW dominated — have likewise been redesigned since 2012.

The Passat comes with a choice of three engines: a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder in 1.8T models; a 3.6-liter V-6 in 3.6L models; and a clean-diesel, 2.0-liter four-cylinder in TDI models. Trim levels include the base S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, Sport and SEL premium. Manual and automatic transmissions are available, depending on trim level. All Passats have front-wheel drive.

How It Drives
The Passat topped the acceleration ratings in our Challenge. Even with a turbocharger, the 1.8-liter engine might seem small for a car of this size, but its horsepower and especially torque output compare to the competitors, and the VW is admirably lightweight; only one sedan in the test was lighter as equipped. Combined with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission, the engine gives plenty of off-the-line power, and passing power is also on tap at a moment's notice. Drivers who want a sportier experience can easily activate Sport mode by sliding the gear selector past Drive to the S position. It holds onto lower gears farther up the rpm range, but the difference isn't dramatic, mainly because Drive mode is nice and responsive to begin with — not the case for some cars as automakers struggle for higher mileage.

With the Volkswagen Passat, though, there seems to be no mileage trade-off. In our test against nine other four-cylinders, the Passat got the second-highest fuel economy results, at 32.1 mpg combined. That was just 0.3 mpg behind the Nissan Altima, which was rated ninth for acceleration. The Passat Wolfsburg 1.8T's EPA gas mileage rating is 24/36/28 mpg city/highway/combined with the 6-speed automatic. A five-speed manual transmission, which is standard on the S and Sport trim levels, cuts the highway figure to 35 mpg. (In these cases, the automatic is a $1,100 or $1,200 option, depending on the version.)

The automatic-only 3.6L is rated 20/28/23 mpg, while the TDI diesel gets an estimated 30/44/35 mpg with a six-speed manual and 30/42/34 mpg with the automatic. An outstanding road-trip version, the Volkswagen Passat TDI is a onetime winner of Cars.com's Eco-Friendly Car of the Year award and is again a nominee for 2015.

Regardless of engine, the Passat has a sporty feel due to its precise steering and firm suspension. It's clear our judges appreciate a well-executed firm suspension, because the Passat tied for fourth place in this regard. I can see how a shopper might find it too firm, however, so pay attention if you test the car. Our Volkswagen Passat SE came with 17-inch wheels, so it's likely the optional 18s and 19s would be firmer still. Base 16-inch steel wheels in the S trim level might make a difference, though probably not much.

The Volkswagen Passat's lack of optional all-wheel drive is notable, though common in this class. For those who require all-wheel drive, the Legacy has it standard and it's optional on the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200.

Interior
The Passat has one of the roomiest interiors in the class, especially its cavernous rear seat area which contributed to its high score. A couple aspects unexpectedly compromised my comfort, though: The otherwise supportive power driver's front seat lacks a tilt adjustment for the bottom cushion — a major drawback in today's market, where power seats typically let you vary thigh support. Second, the tilt steering wheel needs to drop down lower — much lower.

Overall, interior quality is one of the Volkswagen Passat's higher points, especially at a modest price. (Sometimes more affordable versions — including a few models in our test, such as the Altima and Fusion — fail to deliver.) Specifically, I like most of the Passat's materials, especially the patterned aluminum-look trim, but some aspects show the model's age. For example, the gauges remain clear and classic but aren't as rich-looking as some in the test, and the blocky monochrome display between them looks like a game of "Space Invaders" could break out at any moment.

Another unpleasant surprise was the black leatherette (imitation leather) upholstery. Perhaps it was the black color or a poor choice of protectant, because VW's leatherette is usually impressive. Not this time.

In terms of noise, the Passat again scored midpack. The engine sound is a constant companion, but the judges clearly liked it, or at least didn't object to its level or how familiar it sounds as it steps through six gears — unlike the droning sensation experienced with continuously variable automatic transmissions, especially the Altima's.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The 
Volkswagen Passat proved easy to operate but lost Challenge points for lacking multimedia features like smartphone app integration — a shame, because our test car's medium-sized touch-screen would support more ambitious features without the added cost of navigation (an option not included in our car). VW says more robust offerings will arrive in the 2016 model year.

Though an analog aux-in jack and Bluetooth audio streaming with hands-free telephone support are standard, the Passat was the only car in the Challenge not to offer a USB port; a digital connection cable is available for Apple devices.

Our Passat was one of four contestants to offer a telematics system with built-in cellular support for collision notification, roadside assistance and concierge services.

Sadly, our test car didn't have the optional Fender premium stereo, which is one of the best audio systems you can get in a car.

Cargo & Storage
The 
Volkswagen Passat's trunk volume of 15.9 cubic feet is on the larger side for this class, and both the space and opening indeed seem large. The trunk lid hinges intrude somewhat into the cargo area but are nicely finished. A 60/40-split folding backseat is standard.

Cabin storage is mixed. The glove compartment is quite large, but the door pockets are only so-so and the compartment under the center armrest is small for a car of this size. The front cupholders have spring-tensioned fingers to hold cups in place. (Is it me, or does this seem a higher-quality approach than the rubber blisters many car cupholders have?)

Safety
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the 
Volkswagen Passat earned scores of good in all categories except the newer frontal small-overlap test, where it rated acceptable. Out of 19 models in the institute's midsize moderately priced cars class, seven have the higher rating of good for this test. Six match the Passat.

The Passat falls way behind in one regard: It's devoid of increasingly common active-safety options like blind spot and lane departure warning, and it also lacks a collision warning system now offered by many competitors. VW has hinted that these features will appear for 2016.

The Volkswagen Passat is particularly accommodating of child-safety seats thanks to exposed lower Latch anchors and plenty of backseat space. See more details in the Cars.com Car Seat Check.

See all the Volkswagen Passat's features here.

Value in Its Class
Our judges' average score ranked the Passat fourth in the "Worth the Money?" category, which is pretty good for a brand that once commanded a premium. It had the second-highest as-tested price of $26,840 in the $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge. The Altima was $40 more but ranked a step lower in value.

Many factors affect a perception of value, and different shoppers value different things. In my opinion, the Volkswagen Passat lost points for its lack of some features (especially because they aren't available as options, either) but gained some for its size relative to price and its overall interior quality. With the exception of the faux leather in our test car, the Passat is a model whose interior impresses even in more affordable versions, which is definitely not the case for some competitors' base trim levels.

I always say the market is seldom wrong, but it's usually slow to learn. Our Challenge results reflect this loud and clear. The three best-selling models brought up the rear, and the high-ranking, onetime award-winning Passat is selling slowly. That's good for you. As I write this, Volkswagen is offering low-rate financing and more than $3,250 cash back on 2015s and $4,500 on 2014s in my region. To check rebate amounts in your area, click here.

Send Joe an email  

 


2015 Passat Video

“The midsize segment is the best-selling car segment in the U.S. – and this class is more competitive than ever,” says Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen. We invited experts from USA Today and “MotorWeek,” along with a regular family, to Baltimor

Latest 2015 Passat Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

The car drives consistanly great

by Sportsfan1234 from Brighton, mi on September 15, 2018

The car drove great and I really like the room inside. I would recommend this car to anyone that is looking to buy a car in this price point. Read full review

(5.0)

Have never regretted my choice.

by Morrison Steel on August 28, 2018

Comfortable. Dependable. Great all around winter car. Handles great in the snow. Tires that are stock are noisy, but once replaced, the car has no flaws. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat currently has 4 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S

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

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Overall evaluation
acceptable
Retraints and dummy kinematics
marginal
Structure and safety cage
acceptable

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

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Restraints and dummy kinematics
marginal
Small overlap front
acceptable
Structure and safety cage
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.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* 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