$6,486 - $10,177

2012 Volkswagen Passat Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Volkswagen Passat was new.


Interior: 8.0

Volkswagen made the all-new 2012 VW Passat bigger to attract more buyers, and test drivers like the roominess. The Passat’s interior materials get mixed reviews. Some members of the automotive press say they’re upscale, while others think the materials aren’t quite up to snuff, reflecting the Passat’s price drop for 2012.

  • "Yes, the neurotic, detail-obsessed Wolfsburg faithful will find plenty of evidence of cost cutting, but beyond those micro-level details, the Passat's interior is extremely well done, and it feels - at least in range-topping SEL trim - as solidly constructed and smartly designed as the prior car." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Nearly four inches have been added between the wheels versus the last Passat, which enabled a larger back seat to sate American desires." -- Car and Driver
  • "The first thing you notice about the passenger cabin of this new, larger Passat is the sense of spaciousness." -- Edmunds
  • "Some standard features from the 2010 Passat, such as a sunroof and leatherette seating, are no longer standard. Like the rest of the segment, these features are now optional. That doesn't mean the Passat is completely stripped down; automatic climate control is standard in base S models, a feature typically optional in the class." -- Cars.com


Volkswagen increased the size of the Passat for 2012. Reviewers are incredibly pleased with this change, which gives the back seat plenty of legroom. One test driver says the legroom is so abundant it verges on full-size sedan status. They also like that the seats are comfortable and offer lots of thigh support. On the downside, one reviewer comments that the driver seat isn’t as adjustable as other midsize cars. In particular, the seat bottom lacks the tilt adjustment commonly seen on many rivals.

The base Passat comes with fabric seats, while higher trim levels offer leatherette seating surfaces. Heated front seats are standard on the SE trim level, as well as an eight-way power adjustable driver seat. The SEL trim gets power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, while the SEL Premium and TDI SEL Premium have leather-trimmed seats with faux suede inserts.

  • "The surprising take-away from the Passat was the cavernous rear seating area. We were totally chuffed by how much legroom was really there." -- Left Lane News
  • "When Volkswagen said they were making the new Passat bigger, they weren't kidding. Most of the extra space went to the back seat, which has a full-length cushion that provides excellent thigh support and enough legroom to fit Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, even with Wilt Chamberlain ahead of him in the driver's seat." -- About.com
  • "Legroom and shoulder room have increased - considerably in some instances. I'm 6-foot-1, and even with the front seat adjusted for me, the backseat has nearly as much legroom as a long-wheelbase full-size sedan, which the Passat isn't. This is the kind of car four tall adults could take on a long road trip and arrive no worse for wear - even those sitting in back." -- Cars.com
  • "Space up front is good; however, the driver seat only adjusts in six ways (minus lumbar), lacking the seat bottom tilting ability of most competitors." -- Edmunds
  • "Six footers have ample legroom and foot space behind a like-sized driver. Headroom is good too." -- Consumer Guide

Interior Features

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat comes standard with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio input, power windows and power locks. Upgrades available on higher trim levels include navigation, sunroof, self-dimming rearview mirror, satellite radio, touch screen display, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, push-button start, remote start, a Fender premium audio system with subwoofer and iPod integration.

Most test drivers like the Passat’s high-quality interior and intuitive control layout. But one says the interior materials aren’t as good as the outgoing 2010 Passat, while another comments that the Passat’s interior is boring. Reviewers really like the optional Fender audio system’s sound quality, as well as the easy-to-use optional navigation system.

  • "The fit and finish on our test cars were superb, and all the surfaces you touch looked and felt good. There are a few bits of hard plastic in the interior, but most 2012 Passat interior surfaces have a soft-touch feel and a matte finish." -- AutoWeek
  • "The climate controls are easy to reach, clearly marked, and simple to operate." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A clinical poke of the dash reveals it's not the squishy-soft rubbery goodness that we've been spoiled with, and the climate-control knobs spin with a grainy, sandy resistance rather than polished-stone fluidity." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The new, premium Fender audio system has been tuned to the acoustics of the interior and will please even hard-core audiophiles." -- Edmunds
  • "The control layout is admirable for its simplicity, but like the exterior, the shape and style of the dash is a bit dull - it lacks the wow-factor of the Hyundai Sonata or the contemporary hipness of the Kia Optima, and even the unassuming Toyota Camry has more pizzazz than the Passat." -- About.com
  • "Overall, the Passat is loaded with upscale cues throughout. We liked the feel and thickness of the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the use of soft-touch material in all the right places, something we can’t say about the Passat’s little Jetta brother." -- Left Lane News


The Passat has 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which is a big increase compared with the 2010 model’s 14.2 cubic feet. The Passat’s trunk space is now comparable with other midsize cars, but a few provide more space. The Mazda6’s trunk measures 16.6 cubic feet, the Hyundai Sonata offers 16.4 and the Ford Fusion offers 16.5. Reviewers like the Passat’s boxy trunk shape and its depth. 

  • "Trunk room is cavernous with a flat floor and low liftover." -- Consumer Guide
  • "An equally spacious trunk can swallow 15.9 cubic feet of cargo - a number that bests many of the Passat's competitors - and is made more flexible by 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks." -- Edmunds
  • "The cavernous passenger area doesn't come at the expense of cargo room, as the trunk measures a competitive 15.9 cubic feet. It's very deep and rectangular, with few intrusions." -- Cars.com

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