The 2018 Volskwagen Passat is a practical mid-size sedan available in six trim levels. This year, Volkswagen gave the Passat a new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. It replaces the old 1.8-liter engine and helps make the experience of driving the Passat a bit more interesting.
At its heart, the Passat isn’t a sporty car. Volkswagen updated styling when the all-new Passat was introduced for 2016 in an effort to make it a more aggressive, appealing car, but it’s not a standout. In the years since, other automakers have done the same thing, leaving the Passat looking good, but not remarkable. It’s an attractive sedan, but not one that makes a big impression.
Inside, the story is similar, however, the SEL Premium we drove features a better interior than base trims. It includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats that are 6-way power adjustable with lumbar, leather seating surfaces, and ambient lighting. A variety of accent trims keep the interior from looking bland and give the Passat a bit of personality.
Where it excels is in comfort and space. The cabin is roomy with plenty of legroom and headroom for taller passengers, even in the rear seats. Those seats split-fold 60/40 to accommodate longer cargo loaded through the trunk. Even without the seats folded, there’s 15.9 cubic feet in the trunk to hold your stuff.
The infotainment system includes a 6.3-inch touchscreen with AM/FM/HD radio, CD player, two USB ports, and a Fender premium audio system on top trims. The system is easy enough to operate, but the screen size is small, especially given that this is a top trim. It’s also too low on the dashboard so it pulls your eyes further from the road.
Safety features are abundant on the Passat. There’s adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, and automatic post-collision braking standard on all but the base model. Lane departure warning, park distance control, and park steering assist are added to top trims.
The biggest news this year is the Passat’s new base engine. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder offers 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s more responsive and more fun to drive with good acceleration. Highway passing is easy and the transmission shifts are timed to maximize the engine’s power. Even under heavy acceleration, the cabin remains quiet providing a comfortable and relaxing space for passengers.
The Passat continues to be a value proposition for those on a tight budget. The base model starts at $22,995 making it a good entry-level choice for young buyers. Once you step up to the SEL Premium, it’s not quite so affordable with a base price of $31,650, but still offers an appealing combination of safety features, interior comforts, and a powerful engine.