Volkswagen’s Tennessee-built Passat is back for 2018 with some key updates.
The midsize sedan has an updated engine and a new sporty 280-horsepower GT version, and features sophisticated design, user-friendly technology, and excellent road-holding feel.
VW has replaced the previous 1.8-liter four-cylinder TSI engine with the most advanced turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI unit ever in a Volkswagen, for more horsepower and better fuel economy.
Also new for 2018, Passat gets the VW six-year/72,000-mile People First Warranty, a transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty that covers the engine, transmissions and optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive systems, and beats the competitors’ in years and mileage. R-line models and above now have standard Adaptive Cruise Control.
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Passat is available in six trims with a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode – S, R-Line, SE, SE with Technology (the model I drove), GT, and SEL Premium.
Pricing starts at $22,005 for models with the 174-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine, and $34,650 for models with the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter VR6 engine.
The 2.0 is EPA rated for 25 mpg city/36 highway. The 3.6 V-6 has ratings of 19 city/28 highway, with premium fuel.
Changes in the 2.0 engine increase power and efficiency – horsepower is up four from 2017 and it kicks in at 4,400 rpm, 400 revs sooner than the 1.8 version. New TSI injectors push fuel into the cylinder at a higher maximum pressure. Turbo technology pushes cooled air straight into the engine, for impressive performance, horsepower and torque.
My Passat was deep Tourmaline Blue Metallic, accented by a fully chromed four-bar grille with chrome VW badge and the top bar extending across the top of the slim headlights. Also included are chrome lower front bumper and fog light trim, chrome window surrounds, a chrome rear bumper strip (wraps around toward the wheel well edge), and chrome trunk lid trim underlining a chrome VW badge and extending into the large wrap-around taillights.
The substantial grille along with the muscular hood gave my Passat a wide, planted stance, while the window surround, LED headlights with jewel-like LED Daytime Running Lights and taillights added to the premium nature of the eye-catching exterior.
A European-style flush rear license plate area along with the trunk lid trim enhanced the grounded appearance across the rear.
Automatic headlights had a friendly Coming Home/Leaving Home feature which turned on the lights in the mirrors, the low-beam headlights, the tailgate lights and the license plate lights when the key fob was used to unlock the doors before entering, It kept the lights on for a pre-determined amount of time when the key was removed from the vehicle. Halogen front fog lights with low-speed cornering lights helped around corners on unlit country roads.
Seven exterior colors are offered, depending on the model chosen. Besides the Tourmaline Blue, new for 2018, are Reflex Silver, Deep Black Pearl, Pure White, Fortana Red Metallic, Platinum Gray Metallic and Titan Moonrock.
Standard are 18-inch silver Chattanooga alloy wheels with five split spokes, wearing all-season tires.
The Hands-free Easy Open Trunk was handy after shopping, unlocking and opening with just the swipe of a foot under the rear bumper, with the key still in my pocket.
Two-tone door panels with textured aluminum and elegant wood-textured trim extending onto the dash were eye-catching. The sharp contours and sculptured line of the dash framed the elements underneath, including chrome-trimmed air vents. Cupholders, the shift lever, and upper door trim also had chrome trim pieces.
The frameless auto-dimming mirror was an understated touch of elegance. Ambient interior lighting and foot-well lights highlighted the upscale interior design.
Perforated V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces in Moonrock Gray had contrast piping on the bolsters. Interior colors depend on the model and the exterior color chosen. Titan Black and Cornsilk Beige (with contrast piping) were also available for the SEL with Technology. Seating is offered in cloth, V-Tex Leatherette, or Vienna leather, depending on the trim level.
Standard across the Passat line, the MIB II infotainment system is the foundation for Volkswagen’s Car-Net connected services, one of the most comprehensive suites of services and features in the automotive industry. Features are divided into “App-Connect,” “Security & Service,” and “Guide & Inform.”
App-Connect runs select smartphone apps to the display through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, and is not included in the subscription-based services.
Security & Service allows access via the web or a smartphone app with a free six-month trial, and features Automatic Crash Notification, Manual Emergency Call, Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, as well as remote door lock/unlock, remote honk and flash, last parked location, and remote check of doors and windows (closed/locked).
Navigation directions can be sent from a smartphone, or an agent may be accessed if desired. Family Guardian offers Speed Alert, along with Boundary Alert if the vehicle travels outside a pre-set virtual boundary. Diagnostic information is available through a Vehicle Health Report, and the driver can also be notified when it is time for scheduled service. The system can even identify the nearest dealer.
Car-Net is available for smart watches, allowing the wearer to control lots of Security & Service features and functions through iPhone and Android apps and the web. With a map of the current vehicle location, the wearer can find a parked vehicle quickly and get walking or driving directions to the vehicle. The wearer can also check the fuel level and much more.
Guide & Inform provided enhanced navigation with fuel prices, sport scores, weather information, and movie information with a three-month SiriusXM Travel Link trial. Traffic information was available through a three-month SiriusXM Traffic trial.
A Discover Media system with 2.5D navigation had a 6.3-inch capacitive touch-screen display with proximity sensor, MP3/WMA/FLAC-compatible CD player, HD/AM/FM radio, SD memory card reader, and a three-month trial of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The system could send and receive SMS text messages with Bluetooth and pair two phones simultaneously.
Navigation featured one-shot voice destination entry, and destination entry with quick search and auto-complete. Entry could also be made the old-school way with the touch screen. One front and one rear USB port were included.
Fender Premium Audio, with 400 watts of power, supplied clear concert-quality sound for all of our outings.
Passat protects occupants with passive and active electronic and mechanical safety features, engineered to meet or exceed current crash regulations. Driver-assist systems on my Passat SE with Technology included a standard rearview camera, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Sport Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).
A rigid safety cage deflects crash energy away from occupants, and crumple zones front and rear absorb crash energy to keep it away from the safety cage.
In the event of a collision in which air bags deploy, the VW Intelligent Crash Response system turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and activates the hazard lights, reacting if occupants are unable to.
An Automatic Post-Collision Braking System helps bring the vehicle to a stop after a collision to reduce the chance of additional impacts.
My elegant Passat was practical, fun-to-drive and driver-friendly with electro-mechanical power steering, and affordable at the $30,445 delivered price – including $850 in destination charges.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org