The mantra of Volkswagen as of late is why fix something if it isn’t broke. Such a theme plays well in the latest Passat midsized sedan, a vehicle that hasn’t seen a major redesign in about six years. However, after its mid-cycle refresh a couple of years ago, the Passat has carried on a tradition of being a mild-mannered vehicle for those who aren’t all into fashion, flair or standing out in a crowd. What you do get in the 2018 Volkswagen Passat is the availability of several trim levels to fit your specific desires and at the same time utilizes the basics of today’s safety and connectivity tech in automobiles.
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For 2018, the Volkswagen Passat doesn’t change much apart from a new GT trim level with the robust V6 engine to offer lighthearted enthusiasts something sporty, in addition to an upgrade to the base trims four-cylinder engine with 4 more horsepower and improved fuel economy. Otherwise, the 2018 VW Passat carries on as one of the most spacious sedans you can find for the money.
My test vehicle choice for the week is the 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium, which touts the brand’s narrow-angle piston-configured V6 engine that pays homage to when such a configuration was called the VR6. The V6 engine combined with the latest DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) automated dual-clutch transmission makes for a rather zippy formula. The VW Passat V6 SEL surging all its 280 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque through the transmission to power the front wheels is always eager to get all 3,500 pounds of German engineering up to speed without delay. Such a feat to 60 mph takes just 6.4 seconds but at the management of front wheel spin that traction and stability control attempts to mitigate. Just as I found a couple of years ago in driving the refreshed 2016 VW Passat V6, the 2018 retains the character of breaking the front wheels loose quite often, almost too often.
The drivability of the VW Passat V6 is simple and rather numb with a light steering rack controlled from a thin-rimmed steering wheel. Fundamentally, the VW Passat is void of any usable feedback from the road to communicate with the driver other than a slight upset in the front suspension that feels a bit spongier and floatier over road inclines or progressively uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the new Passat rides comfortably and quiet enough to be agreeable on long trips. The obvious fixation on comfort over performance is one hindrance that enthusiasts will find potentially swaying them towards other ‘sportier’ competition.
Part of the merit in the Volkswagen Passat is its roominess and comfort, which nearly places it in the category of a full-sized sedan. Having a large cabin makes way to pack in 5 adults without issue, even when they must sit in place for a few hour trip. The leg room is ample as is the headroom. The seats in the VW Passat V6 SEL Premium trim, which sits at the top of the line of six other trim levels, are made up rather thick leather surfaces. The interior, just like the exterior of the new Passat, doesn’t depart from a dull theme that doesn’t attempt to be anything more than vanilla. However, most of the controls, the usability of features, and the touchscreen infotainment unit are clear and concise never to pretend that the Passat is luxurious by any stretch of the imagination.
The collective of what the Volkswagen Passat comes down to its rather low pricing scale, which starts at just $22,995 for the 2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder S trim. Moving all the way to the newest GT trim with the V6 engine, you will expect to pay about $30k-even while my V6 SEL Premium Passat test vehicle tips the price scale to $34,650 before any fees. For a well-to-do midsized vehicle that includes a bevy of active safety features, the notable features of adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a touchscreen navigation infotainment system, automatic LED headlights, leather seating surfaces, and a Fender audio system, the Passat is an excellent buy that cannot be matched for the dollar value.