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2012 Volkswagen Passat Review

While some critics would prefer a more stylish and high-quality interior, most loved the 2012 Volkswagen Passat’s spacious seating and the great fuel economy provided by its available diesel engine.

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious seating
  • Powerful, fuel-efficient diesel option
  • Bland interior styling




Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Volkswagen Passat Overview

Reviewers said the 2012 Passat’s base five-cylinder engine has sufficient power for city traffic and highway merging, but they were more impressed with the pickup provided by the available six-cylinder and turbodiesel four-cylinder engines. Depending on the model you choose, the Passat is available with a five- or six-speed manual transmission, a six-speed automatic or a six-speed automated manual. The five-cylinder 2012 Passat gets an EPA-estimated 22/31 mpg city/highway, which is subpar for the class, while the six-cylinder model gets 20/28, which matches that of similarly powered rivals. At 30/40 mpg city/highway, the TDI model gets class-leading fuel economy for a non-hybrid affordable midsize car. Reviewers agreed that the 2012 Passat has a smooth ride that makes it very comfortable on the highway. They added that the Passat offers responsive steering, strong brakes and limited body roll during cornering.

Reviewers wrote that the 2012 Passat has a handsome, well-constructed interior, though they noted that a few rivals have higher-quality interior materials. VW increased the size of the Passat for the 2012 model year, and critics said the front and rear seats are as spacious as anything this class has to offer. The 2012 Passat’s 15.9-cubic-foot trunk is also larger than many trunks in the class. Standard features in the 2012 Passat include dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker stereo and Bluetooth. Available features include leatherette or leather upholstery, navigation, a sunroof, satellite radio and a Fender premium audio system with a subwoofer and iPod integration.

Other Cars to Consider

The 2012 Toyota Camry has excellent fuel economy for a midsize car, and reviewers agreed that its standard four-cylinder engine is quiet and delivers relatively strong acceleration. Critics liked its smooth ride, spacious seats and tasteful interior design.

Reviewers wrote that the 2012 Hyundai Sonata has an attractive, modern interior design and high-quality cabin materials. Like the Passat, the Sonata has a large trunk for the class and standard Bluetooth. Both the base and turbocharged models get great fuel economy, and test drivers agreed that both models are fairly powerful.

Compare the Passat, Camry and Sonata »

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