2018 Volkswagen Passat

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$22,995–$34,650 MSRP range

Key Specs

of the 2018 Volkswagen Passat base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Spacious interior, front and back
  • Composed ride, handling
  • Around-town acceleration
  • Great value
  • Easy multimedia system
  • Exposed Latch anchors for easy car-seat installation
  • Safety feature availability

The Bad

  • Humdrum styling
  • Highway acceleration (base engine)
  • Steering wheel doesn't lower far enough
  • Imitation leather not very convincing
  • Large backseat floor hump
2018 Volkswagen Passat exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2018 Volkswagen Passat

  • Forward collision warning with automatic braking now available on base trim
  • Five-seat family sedan
  • New turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder standard, V-6 available
  • New sporty GT trim available
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on most trims
  • Six-year/72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranty

2018 Volkswagen Passat Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/28/img122744801-1457635889028.jpg
Jennifer Geiger
The Verdict:

SUVs are hotter than goat yoga, but what's trending the other way are sedans, and although the 2018 Volkswagen Passat doesn’t exactly excite, its consistent pleasantness won me over.

Versus The Competition:

We pitted the Passat against eight competitors in our 2016 Midsize Sedan Challenge, which it won; it's still strong two years later, but newer sedans trump it in fuel economy.

After a redesign for 2016, the VW Passat saw minor changes for 2017, and for 2018 it gets a new base engine and a sporty GT trim level.  

The Passat straddles sedan classes, competing against large cars like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala as well as mid-size ones like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

We tested a Passat 2.0T SEL Premium, the highest trim level that can be had with the new base four-cylinder.

Pep Then Plod

The base engine is new this year, replacing a long-standing turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 170 horsepower. The new 174-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is perky around town. It's zippy from a stop, and the six-speed automatic quickly snaps off shifts for peppy responsiveness. The powertrain loses a little luster on the highway, however. It's sometimes slow to respond at higher speeds, holding high gears a beat too long. Passing and merging maneuvers often require a stomp on the gas pedal and some patience.

The engine sounds gruff both at idle and on the highway. It's not loud, it just has a rough, unrefined tone. Otherwise, the Passat is relatively quiet in terms of road and wind noise.

The four-cylinder is EPA-rated 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined. That's good compared with the four-cylinder version of the full-size Chevrolet Impala (22/30/25), but it trails mid-sizers like the Honda Accord (30/38/33) and Toyota Camry (29/41/34). A 3.6-liter V-6 is also available for the Passat, but it makes a ...

After a redesign for 2016, the VW Passat saw minor changes for 2017, and for 2018 it gets a new base engine and a sporty GT trim level.  

The Passat straddles sedan classes, competing against large cars like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala as well as mid-size ones like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

We tested a Passat 2.0T SEL Premium, the highest trim level that can be had with the new base four-cylinder.

Pep Then Plod

The base engine is new this year, replacing a long-standing turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 170 horsepower. The new 174-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is perky around town. It's zippy from a stop, and the six-speed automatic quickly snaps off shifts for peppy responsiveness. The powertrain loses a little luster on the highway, however. It's sometimes slow to respond at higher speeds, holding high gears a beat too long. Passing and merging maneuvers often require a stomp on the gas pedal and some patience.

The engine sounds gruff both at idle and on the highway. It's not loud, it just has a rough, unrefined tone. Otherwise, the Passat is relatively quiet in terms of road and wind noise.

The four-cylinder is EPA-rated 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined. That's good compared with the four-cylinder version of the full-size Chevrolet Impala (22/30/25), but it trails mid-sizers like the Honda Accord (30/38/33) and Toyota Camry (29/41/34). A 3.6-liter V-6 is also available for the Passat, but it makes a sizeable mileage sacrifice; rated 19/28/22 mpg, it isn't competitive with most V-6 rivals. In the past, we enjoyed the V-6 but deemed its 280 hp unnecessary for most tastes.

Overall, the Passat's road manners are predictable for a mid-size to large sedan. Its suspension is on the firm side, but I like it, and bumps are adequately damped. In terms of handling, it takes corners with confidence and composure and feels a smidge more athletic than other vehicles this size.

Handsome Cabin, Sensible Controls

The interior has a clean, unfussy design, and — like adding a couple of squirts of Sriracha to an uninspiring dish — the two-tone color combo goes a long way toward adding spice to this otherwise bland cabin. The chrome strips add interest, too, but the fake wood trim likely won't fool anyone. It's still handsome, though, and more convincing than others I've seen. Overall, most materials — like the leather seats that are standard in the SEL Premium — feel high-quality and are sufficiently padded, but the knee-area panels could use more cushiness.   

Matching the streamlined theme of the cabin is the Passat's optional straightforward multimedia system. Although it seems a little small in the expansive dash, the 6.3-inch touchscreen is responsive, and the system is easy to use overall. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with this system, providing onscreen navigation, and integration is seamless. This system is standard on all models except the base trim, which gets a smaller 5-inch screen and isn't smartphone compatible.

One tiny gripe: Although I appreciate the tuning and volume knobs flanking the screen, using the tuning knob requires one too many steps. Just turning it doesn't change the station; you have to push it after you've made your selection, which seems unnecessary.

Ample Room

In back, there's plenty of headroom and legroom for two adults on comfortable, lightly bolstered seats, but the middle spot isn't really an option. It's narrow, and legroom is crowded by a large center floor hump. As detailed in our Car Seat Check, two child-safety seats fit with ease thanks to easy-access lower Latch anchors and ample room.

Compared with full-size sedans, the Passat comes in a smidge behind the Impala and the Avalon in terms of rear legroom, but it matches them for rear headroom. Against the mid-sizers, it bests the Camry in rear legroom but falls behind the Accord.

It's a similar story for cargo room, where the Passat's trunk is a smidge smaller than the full-size sedan competition. Against the mid-sizers, it offers a bit less room than the Accord but more than the Camry.

The backseat goes down in a 60/40 split via trunk-area levers for more storage space, and there's also a handy center pass-through for carrying long items.

Safety

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat earned top scores in most of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests, but its marginal score in the new passenger-side small overlap front test prevented it from earning the agency's top award.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the Passat earned a five-star overall rating, the agency's highest.

A backup camera is standard on all models, as is an automatic post-collision braking system, which applies the brakes when a collision is detected by the airbag sensors, helping reduce the chance of a secondary collision. Volkswagen's Intelligent Crash Response System is also standard; it shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions.

For 2018, optional safety features are newly and affordably available on the base model: The Driver's Assistance Package ($495) bundles forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, as well as blind spot warning and rear traffic alert systems — all of which are standard on R-Line and higher trims. Newly standard on mid-level R-Line models is adaptive cruise control. A lane departure warning system and automatic parking feature are standard on the top SEL Premium trim.

Value

The 2018 Passat starts at $23,845 — much less than large sedan competitors like the Chevrolet Impala ($28,770) and Toyota Avalon (which starts high, at $34,395, though its base engine is a V-6). It even undercuts mid-size sedan competitors by a few hundred dollars; the 2018 Honda Accord starts at $24,460 and the 2018 Toyota Camry is $24,390; all prices include destination charges. Volkswagen also has the longest warranty of those brands: six years or 72,000 miles for bumper-to-bumper and powertrain, plus three years or 36,000 miles of roadside assistance.

What's more, the Passat offers a lot of value even when safety options are added. Base models are often skimpy on safety features, and though many aren't standard on the base Passat, they're available for an affordable price.

The Passat doesn't exactly deliver refinement or excitement — and it won't win you any trendiness points — but it's roomy, comfortable to drive and a bargain.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.


2018 Passat Video

With the 2018 Passat, Volkswagen appears to have hit on that winning formula, though you have to give up a few things in return. Let's take a look at some of the Passat's hits and misses.

Latest 2018 Passat Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(5.0)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Great car!

by Bucsgirl23 from Eatontown, NJ on May 17, 2018

I owned a Jetta for almost 180k, and now a family member will continue to drive. I picked VW for the reliability, low maintenance cost, great features- they definitely don?t skimp on putting all the ... Read full review

(5.0)

Volkswagen's have been great cars for the price!!

by AES from Florida on May 9, 2018

The Passat is great to drive. VERY roomy and is very elegant inside and out. Happy with my decision highly recommend for any driver either starting or experienced. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat currently has 0 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    72 months / 72,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 72,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

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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.*

Latch or Latch system

A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

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.
For complete details,

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