- What’s Best: The interior is spacious with generous rear seat legroom.
- What’s Worst: The styling is on the conservative side.
- What’s Interesting: There’s something for everyone in the Passat lineup with prices starting at $26,195.
With sedan sales on a steady decline, Ford has made it known that in the future it will concentrate largely on SUVs and trucks to carry the sales load.
Volkswagen, on the other hand, is staying the course with its car lines having just recently introduced a redesigned 2019 Jetta model.
Meanwhile, the midsize Passat sedan that is built in Chattanooga, TN, on the same line as the Atlas crossover is actually growing sales in Canada with an increase of nearly 33 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2018.
And this during a quarter when sales of midsize cars overall were off 21 per cent over last year.
Even with the tidy increase, though, the Passat still sits sixth on the Canadian sales charts trailing stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and the Ford Fusion.
The Passat is designed with the North American market in mind and the 2018 model is virtually unchanged from a styling standpoint after a refresh for the 2016 model year.
What is new this year is an updated 174 hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder engine that offers a bump of four horsepower and better fuel economy. The 2.0-litre replaces the outgoing 1.8-litre engine.
Also available for 2018 is the GT model, which sports a 280 hp, 3.6-litre VR6 engine. It comes with a six-speed DRG transmission, while the 2.0-litre version has a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic.
Our tester came in top-of-the-line Highline trim, starting at $35,795. With $3,580 in options, the as-tested price was $39,375.
Starting price for the Passat in Trendline+ trim is $26,195, while the Comfortline is $31,195 and the GT $33,795.
In Highline trim, the Passat has all the bells and whistles like 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces, ambient interior lighting, eight-way power driver and front passenger sports seats and a 400-watt Fender premium audio system.
All this adds to the Comfortline and Trendline+ features, which include heated front and rear seats, LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED tail lights, power and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Our tester also had the optional R-Line package ($2,215) that is an appearance package only. It features 19-inch alloy wheels, paddle shifters, R-Line aluminum pedals and doorsills, R-Line badges and an exterior design package with unique front bumpers and side skirts.
Also optional on the Passat was the Driver Assistance Package ($1,365) that includes adaptive cruise control, lane and park assist, park distance control and automatic high beam headlight control.
Dressed in vibrant Tourmaline blue metallic paint with a Cornsilk beige Vienna leather interior, the Passat presents a stylish package.
While I would hate to try to keep the beige interior clean on a daily basis, it makes the cabin of the Passat an extremely inviting place.
The voluminous interior with lots of legroom both front and rear is a big selling point for this sedan, but the abundance of hard plastic bits take away from the upscale look and feel. The trunk is large with 453 litres of cargo room.
At the base of the centre stack are the controls for the Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control that allows the driver and front seat passenger to have individual comfort levels.
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Sitting atop the centre stack is a 6.3-inch touchscreen display screen for the infotainment system. All trims come with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Outside, I find the styling to be on conservative side but the R-Line trim pieces add a bit of a sporty touch and I would opt for it if going the Highline route.
On an evening out with friends to the theatre, all were in agreement that the front seats are supportive and comfortable. Meanwhile, the rear seat passengers couldn’t get over the amount of legroom they had to stretch out.
Power is, well, so-so.
The new engine is smooth and fairly quiet, but certainly no barnburner. However, for most driving situations it is adequate for a family vehicle like the Passat.
On the highway, the Passat is a treat to pilot. It is quiet, comfortable and smooth and handles all but the worst of our potholed roads with ease.
With its new engine, improved fuel economy and roomy interior, the Passat is an excellent choice for the family or couple in the market for a midsize sedan.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Highline
BODY STYLE: Four-door midsize sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four–cylinder (174 hp, 184 lb/ft of torque) with a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic; 3.6-litre V6 (280 hp, 258 lb/ft of torque) with a six-speed DSG transmission.
CARGO CAPACITY: 453 litres.
FUEL ECONOMY: 2.0-litre 9.3/6.5/8.1 L/100 km city/highway/combined; 3.6-litre 12.2/8.5/10.6
PRICE: Trendline+ $26,195; Comfortline $31,195; GT $33,795: Highline $35,795, as tested $39,375 plus $1,695 freight and PDI.
WEB SITE: VW.ca
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