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2019 Volkswagen Passat Review

The 2019 Volkswagen Passat ranks in the lower half of the midsize car class. Though it has a serene ride, spacious seats, and a large trunk, its rivals offer better overall performance and higher safety scores. 

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious seats
  • Large trunk
  • Relaxed ride
  • Competitors have nicer cabins
  • Lacks engine upgrades
  • Low safety scores for class

New for 2019

  • Simplified trim lineup
  • Volkswagen Passat GT and V6 engine discontinued

Rankings & Research

The 2019 Volkswagen Passat's #10 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize Cars category. Currently the Volkswagen Passat has a score of 7.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 70 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.7
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 7.3
Safety: 8.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Volkswagen Passat a Good Car?

The Volkswagen Passat is a so-so midsize car. It has ample interior space, with a large trunk and some of the roomiest rear seats in the class. However, the Passat disappoints in interior quality. There's only one powertrain option, and this VW is less athletic than many rivals. 

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Passat?

There’s little reason to pick the Passat over its rivals. It's not a bad car by any stretch, but many other midsize cars are simply better. The Honda Accord is more appealing in just about every area. If you can do without the Passat’s extra space, the Volkswagen Jetta is also worth a look. Conversely, if you want even more cargo space, consider the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.

Compare the Passat, Accord, and Jetta »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Passat?

The 2019 Volkswagen Passat belongs to a generation that started with the 2012 model year. Volkswagen refreshed the Passat for 2016, adding more tech and safety features and a standard infotainment system. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking became standard in the 2017 Passat. The 2018 Passat gained a new turbo-four engine, and the Volkswagen Passat GT with a V6 engine was introduced.

For the 2019 model year, VW simplified its trim levels and discontinued the GT. Shoppers interested in the V6 engine will have to pick a 2018 model. If that’s not important to you, consider a 2016 or 2017 model to save some money.

Visit our reviews of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volkswagen Passat if you're interested in a used model. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Passat »

We Did the Research for You: 60 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Volkswagen Passat in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and cargo space dimensions with professional evaluations from 60 automotive sources. This Volkswagen Passat review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2012 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Passat Cost?

With an MSRP of $25,295, the 2019 Volkswagen Passat costs slightly more than most new midsize cars. There are only two trim levels, and the high-end SE R-Line trim (not to be confused with the similarly named but discontinued R-Line trim) starts at $29,995. That’s less than the top trims of many competitors.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Passat Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Passat or Toyota Camry?

The Toyota Camry is an excellent midsize car. It delivers dynamic performance, with a potent V6 engine option and a ride that’s both smooth and athletic. It does all that while returning solid fuel economy, saving you around $200 per year at the pump compared to the VW. The Camry costs less than the Passat but boasts an upscale cabin. The Volkswagen has slightly more trunk space and passenger room, though we can't recommend it over the Camry solely based on that. Go with the Camry.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Passat or Volkswagen Jetta?

The Volkswagen Jetta is a compact car fresh off a full redesign. It's smaller than its midsize Passat sibling, but the Jetta still has decent passenger and trunk space by its own class standards. You'll get better fuel economy estimates and a newer, sharper infotainment system from the Jetta, all for several thousand dollars less. Though the Passat has more horsepower and a nicer cabin, you're better off saving your money and going with the Jetta, which has better safety scores and a higher predicted reliability rating. 

Compare the Passat, Camry, and Jetta »

Passat Interior

How Many People Does the Passat Seat?

This Volkswagen sedan seats five people on synthetic leather upholstery. Heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard. There are no seating upgrades available.

The Passat has plenty of space. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and two tall adults can sit in the back without feeling cramped.

Passat and Child Car Seats

The VW Passat has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and a third tether anchor on the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the highest rating of Good for ease of use.

Passat Interior Quality

The Passat has an attractive cabin, but the use of hard plastics prevents this Volkswagen from feeling as nice as its stablemate the Volkswagen GTI or rivals such as the Kia Optima.

Passat Cargo Space

The Volkswagen Passat has a 15.9-cubic-foot trunk. That places it ahead of rivals such as the Nissan Altima but behind other VWs such as the e-Golf, Tiguan SUV, and even the all-new Arteon sedan.

Passat Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in this VW include three USB ports (including two charge-only ports); Bluetooth; satellite radio; HD Radio; Volkswagen Car-Net with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link; and the MIB II infotainment interface with a 6.3-inch touch screen. Push-button start and proximity keyless entry are standard too. A navigation system, a Fender stereo, and a sunroof are available.

The MIB II infotainment system doesn’t stand out from rivals. It works fine and is user-friendly, but the touch screen is small and oddly positioned. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a nice touch.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Passat Performance

Passat Engine: Peppy Turbo

The Passat features one powertrain: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The V6 engine offered in previous models is no longer available. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic.

The turbocharged engine produces ample power for most daily driving situations. Acceleration is passable, and the transmission generally makes smooth shifts. Some rivals have stronger engine options.

Passat Gas Mileage: OK

This Volkswagen gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. That aligns with other nonhybrid midsize cars such as the Mazda6. On the other hand, the Nissan Altima will save you around $150 annually at the pump.

Passat Ride and Handling: Smooth and Composed

The VW Passat has a smooth, comfortable ride. It lacks the sharp steering and cornering of some rivals, but it glides over dips and bumps in the road and remains composed around turns. Other VWs, including the e-Golf and GTI, are more fun to drive. The all-new Volkswagen Arteon R-Line is also expected to be a sporty handler.

Read more about performance »

Passat Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Passat Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2019 Volkswagen Passat a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average. 

Volkswagen Passat Warranty

The Volkswagen Passat is covered by a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. That’s longer than the warranties of some other midsize cars.

Read more about reliability »

Passat Safety

Passat Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Passat an overall rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in frontal crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Passat the highest score of Good in five crash tests, but it earned the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The Passat also received the worst mark of Poor for how well its headlights illuminate the road ahead. 

Passat Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 2019 Passat include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Available driver assistance technologies include lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.

While that’s in line with the number of safety features in other Volkswagens, such as the Golf Alltrack, rivals like the Kia Optima come standard with more safety features.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Passat Model Is Right for Me?

Volkswagen simplified the Passat lineup for 2019. There are now only two trim levels: the Wolfsburg, which replaces the Passat S, and the SE R-Line, which replaces the similarly named R-Line. Both VWs have a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and both pair with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6-liter V6 is no longer available.

The Wolfsburg is pretty well-equipped. However, the SE R-Line adds a few more safety and comfort features, and it’s significantly more affordable than the top trims of many rivals.

Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition

The Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition has a retail price of $25,295. In addition to the powertrain listed above, this car has automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, Bluetooth, three USB ports, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 6.3-inch touch screen, and Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Mirror Link.

A Sunroof and Wheels package ($1,000), as the name suggests, adds a sunroof and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Volkswagen SE R-Line

The Volkswagen Passat SE R-Line has an MSRP of $29,995. It adds rain-sensing wipers, a hands-free trunk, a sunroof, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and a Fender premium sound system.

No packages are offered with the SE R-Line.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2019 Volkswagen Passat specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Volkswagen Passat does little to impress in a class full of great rival cars. It has one of the roomiest second rows in the class, as well as above-average trunk space. However, it lags behind the segment in engine performance, cabin quality, and tech features. Before you settle for this VW, check out rivals like the Camry and Accord.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2019 Volkswagen Passat … still manages to offer several advanced driver aids -- some of them standard in the lower trim -- despite the many years this generation has been around (since 2011). The Passat also has other standout features. Like a comfortable and quiet cabin, lots of passenger space (39.1 inches of rear legroom) and a huge trunk (15.9 cu ft.). The driving experience, however, is not exactly thrilling, and the styling leans toward understatement and inoffensiveness. Such an approach has its own particular appeal, even if it does make the best-selling Toyota Camry seem almost like a rebellious choice." -- Autotrader
  • "The 2017 Volkswagen Passat is the only European alternative to the plethora of American, Japanese and Korean cars in the ever-popular midsize-sedan market. It's also one of the most enjoyable to drive, with confidence-inspiring driving dynamics at any speed that makes for a satisfying and relaxing driving experience. But despite its Germanic heritage, this particular Passat is built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was designed for North American tastes and preferences. So it's roomy, practical and priced competitively against its more mainstream competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • If the idea of owning an affordable German sedan sounds appealing to you, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat delivers as expected. At the same time, it also provides the American car virtues of abundant cabin space and ample features for the money. But if you're also expecting Teutonic refinement and engagement as part of the deal, you'll likely be disappointed." -- Autoweek (2017)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 7, 2019

Spiraling Sales: Sales of the Volkswagen Passat have plummeted by 63.5 percent so far in 2019 compared to sales from last year. Passat sales sit near the bottom of the midsize car class

Research more buying advice »
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