The Volkswagen Passat for 2016 brings a new front and rear design, new interior with an updated instrument panel and center stack, full leather seating on upper levels, and new standard driver- assistance systems on select trims.
There are also energy-efficient LED headlights available for the first time on a Volkswagen sedan in the U.S. market, and a revised trim lineup.
Five well-equipped front-wheel-drive trims are available — S, R-Line, SE, SEL and SEL Premium — with prices starting at $22,440 for a four-cylinder 1.8T S with an automatic transmission.
Lineup changes include the addition of the sporty R-Line model ($23,975) and the suspension of diesel models pending resolution of emissions issues.
The standard MIB II infotainment system includes USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and available VW Car-Net App-Connect brings smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.
A rearview camera is now standard, and new safety features include Lane Departure Warning, Blind-Spot Monitor, and Frontal Collision Warning with Automatic Braking.
The new sculpted domed hood, slimmer headlights, and a more-substantial fully chromed four-bar grille with chrome extending over and around the headlights give the Passat a more-dramatic appearance with a wider, planted stance.
Chrome window surrounds and door trim have been added. In the rear, a new chrome strip on the trunk connects the taillights across the new trunk lid, above the new bumper with a chrome strip wrapped from wheel well to wheel well, and a European-style flush rear license plate area.
Two new exterior colors are offered for all models: Pure White and Reef Blue Metallic, for a total of six colors available, with Urano Gray available exclusively on the R-Line model. Three interior colors are available, depending on the model chosen.
My Passat SEL Premium was black with Titan Black Vienna leather interior and silver-dusted wood door, dash, center stack, and console trim, with laser-etched metallic accents on the doors and dash.
The dash itself had sharper contours, framing the elements below. The steering wheel is a new flat-bottom design with gloss black and chrome trim. New chrome trim accented the air vents, upper door trim, cupholders, and shift lever, which, along with a new frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, added an understated touch of elegance.
Thanks to large, wide-opening doors, entry and exit were easy. The sport seats were exceptionally comfortable, with multiple power adjustments for the front seats – including lumbar. That made it easy to find the best position, which could be stored in memory for the driver’s side. The front and rear seats were also heated.
A new Easy Open trunk (option for select models) allowed opening by moving a foot near a sensor, as long as the key was within three feet. The trunk had 15.9 cubic feet of space, plenty of room for several large pots of mums and several pumpkins. The 60/40 split/folding seatback had a pass-through that would have accommodated cornstalks.
My Passat was equipped with a rearview camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Active Blind Spot Monitor (warns the driver of traffic in the adjacent lane if the turn signal is activated, and actively tries to keep the vehicle in its lane), Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Assist, Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist; scans and finds a parking space, then automatically steers the vehicle into the space, with the driver actively controlling the accelerator, brake and gear selection).
VW’s Intelligent Crash Response System was standard on my Passat, with features that engage immediately following air bag deployment or activation of safety belt tensioners, ensuring that occupants can exit more easily and first responders have a safer environment in which to work.
ICRS unlocks the doors for easier exit and access by first responders; turns on interior lights for visibility to locate door handles and allow emergency personnel to assess the situation; disables the fuel pump to stop the engine and prevent further movement of the vehicle and to keep the fuel supply in the tank; turns off high-voltage electronics; and turns on the hazard lights to alert other motorists as well as emergency personnel.
Advanced air bags – including side-curtain and seat-mounted side air bags – work in conjunction with ICRS to offer a cocoon of protection, along with a laser-seam welded body safety shell, which absorbs impact energy. I am happy to report that none of these features were needed during my week with the Passat.
MIB II, the new generation of Volkswagen’s infotainment systems, is featured in all 2016 Passat models, with either a 5- or 6.3-inch display screen. Most models utilize a capacitive screen similar to smartphone and tablet technology, enabling swiping and pinch-zooming without pressure and with faster response times.
A proximity sensor detects a hand nearby and brings up a menu for easier selection of key features. USB and Bluetooth for compatible devices are standard, and drivers can connect two phones at once, making and receiving calls on both.
The Security & Service feature can locate your parked car, access a vehicle health report, make service appointments, load destination information before leaving home, and more.
Family Guardian allows owners to set boundary or speed alerts and receive a text or email message if limits are exceeded. Crash notification, manual emergency calling and roadside assistance are also included, and for 2016, remote door lock is now accessible through the S&S mobile app.
Guide & Inform includes a three-month trial of SiriusXM radio and a four-year trial of real-time XM Traffic. A three-month trial of XM Travel Link provides weather, sports, news, gas prices and more is also available.
The built in navigation system had an excellent new destination interface, which predicted and auto-completed search requests – it was fast, accurate, and simple. A premium Fender audio system provided a pleasing background for highway travel, which was impressively quiet and comfortable.
My Passat took turns remarkably well, and had impressive power from the V-6 engine.
A Monster Mat/Heavy Duty Trunk Liner with VW CarGo Blocks added $235, and included four cargo-organizer blocks, which could be positioned on the gripper surface of the liner, and four rubber mats with ribbed backing and channels on the front to hold snow, rain, or mud.
Total delivered price for my very attractive Passat SEL Premium, including $820 destination charges, was $35,325.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.