Matching the streamlined theme of the cabin is the Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen 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.
In back of the Volkswagen Passat, 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 four-door 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 rear seat 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.
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 VW 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 Volkswagen Passat SEL Premium trim.
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat base price 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. VW 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 the Volkswagen Passat is a bargain.
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