2013 VW Passat

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The old Beetle was designed as “the people’s car” – for European people. It was very small – and very small engined. The current Passat, on the other hand, was specifically designed for the American people – and is actually made in America (TN).passat lead 2

It’s a bigger car than the European market Passat – and (when ordered with its optionally available diesel engine) comes with a bigger diesel engine (2.0 vs. 1.6 liters).

It’s a car for Americans who want more room (and perhaps more power) in a German-brand car – but without the otherwise inevitable German-brand price tag.

It has other virtues, too – including a more comprehensive engine lineup, and the availability of a manual transmission with two of its three available engines. The previous Passat was automatic-only  – and came with just one engine.Passat dash

WHAT IT IS

The Passat is VW’s medium-large sedan, comparable in size/price and so on with Japanese and American models like the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.

It differs from competitor models in several objective and subjective ways. Objectively, it’s the only German brand car in this price range. It’s also the only modestly priced largish sedan you can buy with a diesel engine – and which doesn’t rely on downsized for fuel economy reasons (but turbo’d to make up for it) four-cylinder gas engines.Passat side

Subjectively, the Passat is also a bit quieter-looking than its more stylistically exuberant Japanese and home-brand competitors.

Prices start at $20,845 for the base S model with 2.5 liter five-cylinder gas engine and run up to $33,525 for a loaded SEL Premium V-6 with six-speed automated manual transmission.

A diesel-equipped Passat TDI starts at $26,225.

For comparison, a base model Honda Accord sedan starts at $21,680 and tops out at $33,430. The Nissan Altima sedan starts at $21,760 and runs to $30,560. A Ford Fusion starts at $21,900 and crests at $30,200.

And yes – you can get diesel power in the 2014 Chevy Cruze – and for just $24,855 – but the Cruze is a much smaller car than the Passat; it competes more with the Jetta TDI.

WHAT’S NEWPassat wolf

VW redid the Passat last year, so the ’13 is a carryover – other than the new-for-13 Wolfsburg Edition (which includes a unique wheel/tire package as well as interior and exterior cosmetic tweaks) and a new rearview camera system.

WHAT’S GOOD

Audi-esque feel/fit/finish and handling – VW price tag.

Available diesel engine – and 40-plus MPG.

No over-stressed/small-displacement turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Manual transmission available with base engine.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOODPassat wagon

So-so acceleration (and gas mileage) with base 2.5 gas engine.

We don’t get 50 MPG-capable Euro-market 1.6 liter diesel engine.

No manual transmission available with V-6 engine.

No TDI (and AWD) wagon version . . . for us.

Some secondary controls (outside mirror adjust buttons) are less than ideally placed.

UNDER THE HOODPassat 2.5

The Passat’s standard 2.5 liter engine is unusual because it’s not a four cylinder engine – unlike the standard engines in every other car in this segment. It’s a five-cylinder – and makes 170 hp and 177 lbs.-ft. of torque. However, despite its additional piston, the 2.5 liter five’s power/torque output isn’t better than several competitors’ fours – and in some cases, it’s less. The Honda Accord’s standard 2.4 liter four, for example, makes 185 hp – and 181 ft.-lbs. of torque.The Nissan Altima’s 2.5 liter four makes 182 hp and 180 ft.-lbs.

So, what’s the upside to the VW five?

The torque it does make is accessible sooner – 3,250 RPM vs. 3,900 RPM for the Accord’s four and 4,000 RPM for the Altima’s (and the Ford Fusion’s base 2.5 liter four – which also only makes 170 hp).Passat manual

Put another way, the VW engine feels (and probably is) a bit less stressed because it doesn’t need to rev as high to produce its peak torque. This is particularly relevant if you decide to buy the optional automatic transmission. Smaller engines and automatics often don’t mix very well – because smaller engines often don’t make a lot of torque and whatever torque they do make is often made closer to the engine’s redline than idle speed. Since you can’t rev the engine up and release the clutch – as you’d do with a manual transmission – the car feels sluggish coming off the line, until the revs build and the engine starts making torque – which is what matters insofar as getting you moving.

But here’s the big sell as far as the VW’s 2.5 liter engine: Unlike several competitors, VW sells the Passat’s base engine with your choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder Altima comes only with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic. The base Fusion is also automatic-only. Others in this general class – like the Toyota Camry – are also sold with automatics, take it or leave it. One of the few that’s not is the Accord. You can get a manual transmission with the base four. But if you want an automatic, you get a CVT – a noisier species of transmission than the conventional (hydraulic) automatic like the Passat’s optional box and the automatics offered in other cars.Passat DSG

Now, it’s true that the competition’s automatic-saddled fours are sometimes quicker (the Accord gets to 60 in 7.6 seconds vs. about 8.9 for the manual-equipped 2.5 liter Passat) but being able to do things like feather the clutch for a fast launch – or just being able to change gears when and how you want to – makes driving the car a bit more fun. Also, from a down-the-road expenses point of view, a manual-equipped car will probably cost you less to keep. It may need a new clutch at some point. But barring abuse or a defective design, the transmission itself ought to last the life of the vehicle. Automatics often fail sooner – and when they do, replacement costs (these days) can be eye-popping.

Gas mileage with the 2.5 engine is 22 city, 32 highway (with the manual) and 22 city, 31 highway with the optional automatic. This falls just under the base-engined Fusion – 22 city, 34 highway – and a lot under the new four-cylinder Accord, which rates 27 city, 36 highway. The 2.5 liter Altima does even better: 27 city, 38 highway.Passat TDI

But, VW has an answer to that – the TDI Passat. The 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel – which is also available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed “direct shift” (DSG) automated manual – slams down an unbeatable 31 city, 43 highway. I’ve driven this car and can report that – for once – the advertised/EPA mileage is below what the car is realistically capable of. I have personally managed 45-47 on the highway. This is exceptional – and it’s possible without the expense/hassle/compromise of a hybrid gas-electric drivetrain.

The TDI Passat also performs, courtesy of the tremendous torque output of the diesel engine (236 lbs.-ft., produced just over idle speed).Passat V-6

And for more performance, VW offers a 280 hp 3.6 liter V-6. So equipped, the Passat is capable of reaching 60 in about 6.3 seconds. That’s about half a second quicker than the top-of-the-line Ford Fusion equipped with its turbo 2.0 engine (240 hp) and just a tick behind the quickest car in this class, the V-6 powered Accord (278 hp) which gets to 60 in 6.1 seconds.

Unfortunately, the Passat’s V-6 is not offered with a manual transmission – just the DSG auto-manual. Probably because of fuel efficiency pressures. With the very efficient DSG automatic, the 3.6 liter engine manages a not-bad 20 city, 28 highway. But with a manual, this number might have been a lot lower. For example, while the automatic-equipped V-6 Accord gets 21 city, 34 highway, the same engine with a manual transmission (in the Accord coupe) drops to 18 city, 28 highway.Passat gas

VW – like everyone else – has to sweat the MPGs. Not so much because buyers are demanding it but because the government has required it. Two model years from now – 2016 – any car that doesn’t average 35.5 MPG will come with “gas guzzler” fines tacked on to its MSRP.

While it used to be true that a manual offered an efficiency advantage vs. an automatic, today, the reverse is largely true. Modern automatics – especially CVT and DSG-types – are actually more fuel-efficient than manual transmissions.

That’s why most ca companies are going over to automatics – and in more and more cases, dropping manuals from the roster entirely.

ON THE ROAD

The Passat personality range is wider than most of its rivals – because most only offer two engine options – the “economy” engine and the “performance” engine. There’s not much in the middle. With Passat, you can go with the base 2.5 engine for economy – and still have some fun with the six-speed manual transmission. Or, get the TDI – and get economy and fun.

Or the V-6 – and just a lot of fun.

The Ford Fusion is one of the Passat’s few rivals that offers three engine options, but the base- engined version (being sold only with an automatic) is about as much fun as leftover hospital food. It gets the job done – nothing extra. And the Fusion – like every other car in this segment – simply hasn’t got anything in its roster that can compare with the TDI -equipped Passat’s exceptional economy, fun-to-drive character and probable service life of 300k-plus with decent treatment (being a diesel).Passat road 3

Though not a threat to Corvettes, you can have a lot of fun with that TDI – which can do a pretty impressive front-wheel-drive burnout, if you want it to. The V-6 Passat, on the other hand, would be more appealing if you could shift for yourself. Granted, the Passat’s competition is also automatic-only but that’s all the more reason for VW to offer a manual with the V-6. With the DSG, the Passat sometimes feels sluggish – there’s a slight but noticeable lag in between what your right foot inputs and when the transmission responds. As far as the base 2.5 engine, it’s a tangible, milder-mannered counterpoint to the peaky power of the smaller/higher-strung fours in the competition. Teamed up with the manual, it also makes the Passat more of a driver’s car – and thus, more like European cars – even if it’s not as quick as the auto-only competition.

VWs used to have the market cornered – at this price point – when it came to “European” ride and handling. Which just meant that the car had a firmer ride relative to American cars and handled with greater precision than the typical Japanese car (again, in this class). But, that’s no longer true – because the American and Japanese cars in this class have all been tuned to the same “European” wavelength. Even the Toyota Camry. Formerly the best ’88 Buick Japan ever made, it is now (the current model) as “European” feeling as anything else in this segment.

So, the main reason to buy a Passat is to get something different drivetrain-wise.

It’s just a crying shame we (apparently) will not get either the wagon – or the “All-track” AWD system. These are for European buyers only.

AT THE CURBPassat inside2

One of the Passat’s particular plusses has long been that it comes off as an almost-Audi – which is not far from the truth, given VW and Audi are like Chevy and Cadillac, part of the same corporate team.

Park the Passat next to an A4 or A6 and you’ll see the kinship in form.

This doesn’t mean the Passat is a de-contented/lower-priced A4 or A6. It does mean they’re related by blood (so to speak) and that the DNA shows.Passat curb 3

Another aspect of the Passat’s perennial appeal is its conservatively evolving styling – which keeps older models looking current longer and will probably do the same for this model, too.

But, the big news about the new Passat is that it’s a bigger Passat: 191.6 inches long overall vs. 188.2 previously, and rides on almost four inches more wheelbase (110.4 inches vs. 106.7). This was all done to carve out more interior room, to make the German-brand Passat a bit more appealing to American buyer preferences.

How much more room?Passat backseat

How about an inch more front seat legroom (42.4 inches vs. 41.4) and 1.4 inches more second row legroom (39.1 inches vs. 37.7 inches)? Ok, that’s not earth-shakingly different. Here’s one stat that is: The 2013 Passat has 2.4 inches more shoulder room in back (and 1.2 more up front) than the old Passat – which makes it seem noticeably more spacious. VW adds to the effect by cleverly scalloping the inner door panels, leaving you both the impression and the actuality of more elbow room. And the trunk is slightly larger now, too: 15.9 cubic feet vs. 14.2 before.

Basically, what VW did was make the Passat same-size (U.S.-size) as the others it competes with rather than leave it slightly smaller – and slightly more “Euro,” as it had previously and traditionally been.

Some fault VW for upsizing the Passat but it probably makes sense from a business point-of-view. Though the previous Passat was more like the VWs in Europe, the fact is this is America – and different rules apply. In any case, the current Passat no longer has to make excuses for being a bit smaller outside – and a tighter fit on the inside – than the others in this segment.

THE RESTPassat TDI range

One thing I’d really like to see is a “de-contented” TDI Passat – that is, a Passat with just the TDI engine, the manual six-speed and a handful of necessary basic equipment like AC – and all the rest available but optional. This way, VW could offer the superb TDI engine and the superb fuel economy it delivers at a much more economical price. Maybe $23k or so – about the same as a gas-engined SE Passat. This, by the way, is how diesel-powered cars are sold in Europe. Here, they’re sold as higher-trim/higher-priced models, typically loaded up with cost-adding luxury features that are certainly nice to have but which also eat away at the primary reason for buying a diesel-powered car. You know – to save money.

It’d be really nice to have access to the Euro Passat – which is smaller and has that 50-MPG capable version of the TDI engine. But, no dice. Passat door pull

I’d also like VW to re-locate the controls for the outside rearview mirrors to a less awkward-to-get-at place. Right now, they’re positioned at an unnatural angle (for the human wrist) on the door panel – because the current shape of the arm rest doesn’t leave room for the controls. Also, the little toggle button seemed fragile to me – and likely to break off at some point down the road.

And: How about an off switch for the DRLs? They’re not – yet – mandatory. I think it’s silly to drive around in broad daylight with your headlights burning. I’d like to be able to turn my headlights on when necessary – and off when they’re not.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Passat has more competition than ever, but still offers more than most of its competition.

Now about that TDI wagon . . .

Throw it in the Woods?

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  26 comments for “2013 VW Passat

  1. Eric_G
    May 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Nice review. I still love my A3 TDI, sill mixed on the DSG transmission. Took it out for a drive on Monday over the Grand Mesa, a twisty 2 lane road with lots of hills and passing zones. I found myself doing a lot of looking at the dash to figure out what gear I was in and sometimes overshooting for the one I wanted. There’s a lot to be said for the real tactile feedback of pulling a gearshift down into second going into a turn. Flappy paddles are cute, but really worthless if they are attached to the wheel instead of the stalk.

    BTW now that summer is here, I’m seeing D2 diesel at the same price as regular unleaded again. Don’t understand why they can’t do this all year around, but enjoy it while I can, I guess.

    • May 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Thanks, Eric – and ditto on the DSG.

      From a technology (and efficiency) point of view, it’s a brilliant piece of work. But from the standpoint of a driver – who wants to drive – a conventional manual six-speed is far more enjoyable.

  2. May 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    It is pretty ridiculous that we can’t buy a diesel here without dumping a truckload of money into it. Although the diesel shown here is somewhat reasonable, it just doesn’t make sense that it is more expensive than the other options. Why is it that those of us who are concerned with fuel economy chiefly because we can’t afford to shell out for the gas, are asked to shell out more for the car? As you pointed out, the diesel engine model should start barebones. The first manufacturer to start doing that in the states is going to win big.

    On a sidenote: I really wish we had more diesel options across the board, in all makes and models. I would love to find an affordable, 4×4 light SUV barebones with a diesel engine.

    • Me2
      May 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Trocki – ” I would love to find an affordable, 4×4 light SUV barebones with a diesel engine.”

      With a bit of ambition and some tools (or cash for a mech), your solution could be a Sidekick with a VW diesel conversion.

      http://acmeadapters.com

      I have seen a few of these units and if done properly, they are fantastic. 30+mpg, great off road low-end torque and few if any nanny-state mandatory items. Just stay away from the TDI units. While they are great engines, the computers are a nightmare when it comes to swapping.

      I have two sidekicks and two VW diesel cars sitting here waiting for some ambition on my part.

      All in for a good Sidekick, diesel and adapters, should be well under $10k. Not exactly cheap as used vehicles go but since what you are looking for does not exist (legally imported anyway) it may be your answer.

    • May 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      I agree, Trocki –

      It’s a huge opportunity for the first car company to appreciate it – and exploit it.

  3. May 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    I’m not particularly bothered by the DSG Transmission, or the lack of a de-contented TDI model. But I am pretty disappointed by the absence of the wagon from the American market.

    On the other hand, maybe I should be glad that VW doesn’t offer us the wagon. If they did, I might be tempted to buy it. And as your recent articles have made very clear, “buying new” is rarely the smart option. ;-)

    • May 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Amen, Mike!

  4. harry p.
    May 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    great review and a great car in my opinion,
    this past february I drove a nearly new (less than 5k kms) TDI wagon version for 2 weeks while I was in Hannover for a work. Drove both town and highway. Can’t verify the fuel efficiency because I didn’t keep track of it but I drove a ton and didn’t have to fill it up often. One caveat being the suspension; I am not sure I can buy that it is the same for the german and US markets. The German version stuck to the road better than the average US sedans i have driven (but none of them are less than 5 years old so maybe I am off base).
    I am 6’2″ but am long torsoed and short-legged for my height and I was surprised I was able to find a very comfortable seating position, most cars don’t have enough adjustment so that I can avoid slouching. (It’s weird but 2 of the best cars I fit in like a glove are mk1 and mk2 MR2′s).
    It wasn’t keeping up with BMW’s and Audis but I got it up to 200kph easily while taking a day trip to Hamburg, it felt almost eerily stable at upper speeds (it helps that their roads are infinitely better than the sorry POS’s I live with here in PA).
    THe only major complaint i had about the car was the GPS was not user friendly even after I read up on it and switched everything over to english.

    sucks that we won’t get the wagon here in the US, the disappointment is similar to the review of the mazda 6. with a family i would definitely consider a fuel efficient diesel station wagon for my wife but alas, no dice.

    • May 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks, Harry –

      On the mileage of the TDI: The US-spec. version is absolutely capable of approaching 50 on the highway if you keep it around 65. I’ve heard (and been told) that the Euro-spec model does better than that.

      Either way, they’re great cars – and I’m glad VW has at least brought the TDI back to the Passat.

  5. swamprat
    May 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I believe that automakers are beginning to see the light, albeit way late on the advantages of Diesel power. Most gas powered cars made today get about 28-30 freeway. Some smaller ones make 40, but having a diesel engine in a larger sized car is a real advantage. I think that we will see more of these if the automakers are smart. In an ever tightening regulatory environment, diesel is actually a slam dunk to higher gas mileage without tremendous cost. Let’s hope that they start making diesels for the masses of asses.

    • BrentP
      May 30, 2013 at 12:43 am

      Diesel has had a marketing problem in the USA. Largely because of GM’s attempt at Diesel passenger cars. The imports have been there for ages but have tended to be niche vehicles. When GM tried to make it mainstream they screwed up and result has been rather long lived. Meanwhile automakers have been selling them elsewhere. Thus it’s not so much as seeing the light but figuring the issues from GM’s attempt now 30 years ago has finally been erased from memory.

  6. chiph
    May 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

    *and all the rest available but optional.*

    I think this is the future of car production — a-la-carte (“Build to order”) options.

    It never fails that the product planning group at the automaker has bundled together options that please buyers just enough that they won’t walk away. Someone who can deliver a car in less than a month with only what the customer wanted will do well.

    If you figure that a lot of options these days depend more on how the body computer is programmed, the number of different parts needed won’t be any greater than what they have now.

    Chip H.

    • May 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

      I agree, Chip.

      “Packaging” is about profit. And people – in general – put up with it because it’s what they’re used to. Because “that’s how it’s always been done.”

      But the whole dealer screw job model is on very shaky ground. I may do a rant about this. In fact, I think I will!

      • BrentP
        May 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        Bundling options is also about bill of materials simplification. Yes, line items were done in the 1960s, it can be done. However it is cheaper not to do it.

        The other reason is marketeers and industrial designers who are control freaks. These people think it’s bad for the ‘image’ of the product if it’s out there in a way they didn’t intend. So they limit things so someone can’t order a blue car with a red interior. They don’t want those misfit cars that some odd ball would order back in the 1960s.

    • justin
      June 1, 2013 at 2:31 am

      Not many new car buyers are going to wait 30 days for their car.
      since most are impulse purchases.

      I have heard too many times,
      “I thought you said you wanted a silver car”?
      “well I wanted a Silver one, but they only had a green one”

      • Swamprat
        June 4, 2013 at 1:24 am

        Sounds like the guy selling the Wagon Queen Family truckster to Griswold.

  7. JvG
    May 30, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Someday soon I plan to move to South America. A few years from now I may be able to buy one of these cars secind hand. Perhaps the VW factory in Tennessee will be able to make what we would like to have for the export-only market. I would like the V-6 diesel with the manual transmission please. Diesel in Ecuador sells for about 1.00 USD.

    A basic version for the third-world markets would suit me just fine. Something cheap to run, basic to maintain, and large enough for my 6’3″ body. This sounds a lot like an old Volvo.

  8. SojournerMoon
    June 9, 2013 at 4:56 am

    A couple of additional comments and observations regarding VW and TDI.

    VW has a pretty poor reliability record, at least in recent decades. I recall my aunt shopping for a new “cute” car about 8 years ago and considering a VW Beetle. She is a small woman (about 4’8″) and small framed. She managed to pull the door handle off of the driver’s side door of a brand new Beetle that she was about to test-drive just by opening the door. Not confidence inspiring. VW has also traditionally lodged somewhere near the bottom on most reliability ratings I’ve seen. I suspect a lot of this has to do with the general German car reliability slump of the 1990s and 2000s (except for Porsche) that most people seem to be blaming on the rapidity of development of new models, extensive addition of electronic gadgetry, etc. Too much “new” and too little testing.

    That said, VW has been making a big push to become the world’s largest auto company and is currently battling Toyota for second and hot on the heels of GM for first. No other company has grown as much as VW has in the global market recently. One of the points of emphasis in the expansion seems to have been reliability, though we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing to bear in mind, though, is that VWs, like all German cars, are designed to be competent on the Autobahn cruising at high speeds all day long. Thus while the electric windows or radio may not work that reliably, the basic mechanicals seem to be pretty bulletproof. And that’s what you really want on a car you can grow old with.

    Second, I can attest to the drivability of the VW TDI system. I have been the proud owner of a Touareg TDI for the past 8 months or so. I wanted an off-roadable diesel vehicle in anticipation of the coming problems in this country thanks to the Keynesian crackpots running the government. I’ve learned a few things owning this TDI (granted, a 3.0L V6) that may be of use to those considering a TDI.

    First, you’re probably not likely to see the advertised EPA mileage numbers until you’ve broken in the engine a bit. Say at least 10k. The Touareg TDI is currently rated at 21/29mpg, which is excellent for a 5,000 lb SUV. I was typically only getting about 26mpg highway on 2-4hr trips at first, but I still managed to get about 23mpg city, which is most of my driving. However, I put somewhere around 3k miles on it with a trip from Arkansas to the heart of darkness. . .er. . .Washington, D.C., a couple months ago, and I was hitting that 28-29mpg highway figure by the time I got back. I just piled on another 4k with a trip to Philly and Boston and some New England touring. It’s now getting a solid 29mpg or better running at or above 70mph steadily. So give it some time. Incidentally, the best I saw was 32mpg while tooling around the Cape Cod area at around 30-40mph (speed limit, heavily enforced).

    Second, these engines are perfect for long-distance hauls. Diesels don’t have a high redline and typically the transmissions are geared to give low RPMs at highway speeds. This means it tends to run pretty quietly at speed, much more so than most gas engines I’ve had experience with. The Touareg has plenty of passing power at 70-80mph, though you can tell it’s not optimal for that. Moreover, you’ll find yourself pulling away from most traffic when you get into the hills, as the TDI doesn’t seem to care if you’re going uphill or on level ground. It pulls just the same. Incidentally, you tend to get better mpg in the hills, too, typically 30+mpg.

    Third, the low-end torque provided by the TDI diesel is ideal for stop-and-go traffic. Diesels produce most of their torque just off idle and low in the RPM range. Torque is what gets the vehicle moving off the line and provides most of what we sense as acceleration up to around 40mph. That, coincidentally, is what you want when your maneuvering around in traffic. It’s also what makes a TDI fun to drive, even if it’s not as fast in an absolute sense as a gas engined model. I had no trouble whatsoever in legendary Boston traffic. An added bonus is that diesels idle very efficiently, so when you ARE stuck idling in traffic, you’re not hurting your mileage that much. After two days in and out of Boston traffic, I was still getting 27mpg.

    Fourth, the one downside I’ve found with the TDI is turbo-lag. It’s a single turbo system, so there is always a bit of delay (around a second or so) for the turbo to spin up and have power on tap. Thus you have to plan your moves a little ahead of time. Otherwise, you might be caught flat-footed when you jump into that open lane and need acceleration. This is easy to mitigate once you learn the way the vehicle behaves, but sudden surprises can still leave you wanting more immediate motive force.

    Diesel technology has mostly been sorted out and is very rugged and reliable. Putting 100k miles on a gas engine means you’ve used up most of its expected life (though newer gas engines are definitely better), whereas by 100k miles on a diesel, it’s just getting broken in well. If you want an efficient, reliable, and fun to drive car that’s both great on the highway and in traffic, it’s hard to beat a TDI.

  9. ZoomZoom Diva
    June 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    In my experience with the Passat, I am much less impressed by it. VW has been given a pass for its very plain interiors for years because it is a VW, and the latest Passat goes beyond Spartan and lacking atmosphere to seeming cheap for the pricetag. It’s very roomy, but other better options fit a 6’2″ tall person behind another 6’2″ tall person (Mazda6 and Fusion to name two).

    Would you REALLY want a car as large as the Passat with a 1.6 litre TDI? I would expect it would be nearly dangerously underpowered (a car that cannot reach 60 mph is 10 seconds is significantly underpowered and that cannot reach 60 in 12 seconds is dangerously so.)

    • June 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Hi Zoom,

      The US-spec. Passat is larger than the European Passat.

      But, I’d still be very happy to have access to the 1.6 liter engine here – in the larger, US-spec. Passat. Because 60 MPG would be motorcycle-level fuel economy – in a four-seat/five-passenger car. An affordable, not uber-complex car.

      A 10-12 second 0-60 time is not dangerous. Just not quick!

      For some perspective: An old Beetle (the air-cooled original) took 20-plus seconds to get to 60. But it was serviceable as A to B transpo. I speak from personal experience. I drove a ’73 during the early ’90s in DC-area traffic – commuting every day with it and driving the DC Beltway. You do need to be able to anticipate – and effectively work the engine – but the car (and cars like it) is only “dangerous” in a Cloveritic sense.

      Also: There are several current cars that are in the 11 second bracket (Prius, Prius C) and they also manage ok.

      And: Though most late-model cars are capable of getting to 60 in 8-9 seconds (or less) do most drivers out there exercise that capability? No, they don’t. Most drivers – even those with very powerful cars – creep forward from traffic lights and often stop on merge lanes, with their turn signals on, expecting other cars to stop and let them in. Few drive much faster than 80, ever – even on the highway. A ’73 Super Beetle can keep up with that. And a 1.6 liter TDI Passat? Easily keep up with that – and then some.

      Just saying…

  10. Bill in NC
    June 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I would love to have a diesel, but here in the U.S.:

    1. the extra emissions on diesel engines means the ‘diesel premium’ approaches the price of the hybrid premium.

    2. diesel fuel is roughly 15-20% higher than regular unleaded per gallon.

    3. the hybrid will easily beat the diesel in city mpg, which is how most of us primarily drive.

    • June 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Bill,

      The main upside to the diesel – as I see it – is amortization. Assuming the design is sound, assuming decent treatment and maintenance, one ought to be be able to get 300,000-plus miles out of a diesel before major issues begin to crop up. Hybrids are shorter-lived (batteries in particular) and become economically not worth keeping sooner because repair costs are too high relative to the value of the vehicle. This happens to all vehicles, of course. But with a hybrid, I expect you’d reach that point after – roughly – ten years. A diesel car should be able to keep on trucking – and remain worth fixing – for at least 15-20 years, if not longer.

      Of course, the newer-generation diesels may prove to be nowhere near as Methuselean as, say, a ’70s or ’80s-era Benz 300D.

  11. swamprat
    June 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I reread this test and the more I read about it, the better I like this car. I drove a Jetta 2.5 a number of years ago and found it to be the most solid, stable car I have ever driven at highway speeds. I got it up to 120 on the Merritt Parkway and held it there for a while. The Merritt is a skinny highway with lots of turns and narrow lanes (11 ft wide). The Jetta was unfazed. Drivability wise, I found it to be as good as a BMW 325 that I drove at about the same time. I expect the Passat to be the same.

    My question to Eric is how fast were you driving the Passat to get 48 mpg? Were you at the legal limit or pushing 80? Just curious. Want to know.

    • June 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      I like it a lot, too.

      Personally, I’d choose it (the TDI Passat) over the Avalon (hybrid) because it’s significantly less expensive “up front” (about $9k) and – given the driving I do – a diesel makes more sense. However, the Avalon is a much more luxurious car. It’s a Lexus in all but name. That may – or may not be – a consideration for you. But it’s a definite difference between these two cars.

      As far as the TDI Passat’s mileage: If you keep it under 60 most of the time, it’s very doable to average 40-plus MPG. Driving it a bit faster/more aggressively and it’s still hard to get much less than mid 30s. This is excellent for a large car – and very real-world competitive with the mileage of the hybrid Avalon.

      By the way: I’m getting an MKZ next week, I think. I’m very curious to see whether it’s a slug – as the stats suggest it is.

  12. chris
    April 28, 2014 at 11:38 am

    thanks for one of the more objective reviews on this car. consumer and industry reviews of this car are really ALL OVER THE PLACE and heavily jaded by whether the reviewer personally likes or dislikes it – im hard pressed to find a review that doesnt contradict itself from one paragraph to the next. I own a 2014 TDI SEL. Probably my overall favorite VW I’ve owned to date (fox, jetta, passat 2000, sportwagon 2012) and the more i drive it the more i think its my overall favorite car ive owned to date (rovers, bmws, minis, chevys, jeeps, mazdas….ive owned quite a few in my 40 years..) but that is perhaps because it seems to meet all the needs i have at this juncture in my life. smooth ride, enough pep, great fuel economy, sportier looking with the SEL trims.. and 18″ alloys, just enough comfy luxury items, and lots of space for hauling friends and family around. I too am a fan of wagon and loved my JSW…however i dont see the return of the passat wagon any time soon. The JSW is here to stay for now, but until americans discover wagons (again) and that they are a far better option than an SUV or SUV cross over (as the europeans already know), I am afraid the days of the wagon will remain few and far between.. audi has cut all but one of theres out of the running and opted for more SUVS options… volvo has added one, but its not doing well, the JSW only does well with diesel buyers (80% purchased are TDIS), the BMW 3 series wagon – nice appointment but tight/small interior and quickly enters the upper 40′s….once you added on well…the ad ons…. for me VW just nails that mid range quite perfectly – just enough luxury, just enough performance, just enough practicality, just enough of economy and ad a reasonable price. I mean even hyundais or kias are 30k nicely appointed these days.. and VW does it all and the car still looks like a car, like a sedan….. and not a space ship (see inside of the accord – more screens, panels, knobs, buttons, dials than the cockpit of a boeing 777 – what is up with that 4 tiered layout…).

    • eric
      April 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      My pleasure, Chris – thanks for the kind words!

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