$7,508 - $11,803

2013 Volkswagen Passat Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Volkswagen Passat was new.


Performance: 7.5

Many auto critics like the wide array of engine and transmission choices the 2013 Volkswagen Passat offers. There’s a five-cylinder, V6 or four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, as well as two manual transmissions, a conventional automatic or VW’s DSG automated manual. The Passat is the only car in the class to offer a diesel engine, and reviewers are impressed with its great fuel economy rating of 31/43 mpg city/highway. Most test drivers think the power of all three engines is good, they say the Passat has sportier handling than many rivals and they like that the suspension absorbs bumps in the road.

  • "While the gasoline engines are very refined, and fine choices in their own right, the available TDI engine is one of this sedan's defining features. For drivers willing to consider a diesel engine, the TDI model delivers excellent fuel economy and overall performance." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The engine lineup is a VW engine nerd’s dream, and is unique among mid-size sedans." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The Volkswagen Passat offers three engines. The base 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and is mated to a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. This engine gets an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway with the manual and 22/31 with the automatic. The Passat also is available with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces 140 horsepower and gets 30/40 mpg city/highway with VW’s DSG automated manual transmission and 31/43 with the six-speed manual. The Passat’s most powerful engine is a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 that’s also mated to the six-speed DSG transmission. EPA fuel economy estimates for this engine are 20/28 mpg.

Auto critics say the base five-cylinder engine and available V6 have good power, but the diesel engine receives more praise. Reviewers are impressed with the TDI model’s good fuel economy and engaging performance. The DSG automated manual transmission is the favorite among many test drivers, who say its dual-clutch system gives crisp, smooth shifts.

  • "Passats with the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine and automatic transmission have good pickup from a stop and enough power for problem-free highway merging. … The 3.6-liter V6 is strong and smooth." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The choice of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic is a reminder that this diesel is the driving man's alternative to a hybrid. It delivers a broad band of turbocharged thrust scaled to a diesel's truncated tachometer and complemented by the crisp, full-throttle upshifts of the DSG transmission." -- Automobile Magazine (2012 TDI model)
  • "The car settles in at speed, feels confident, and hates the 65-mph limit as much as the driver does." -- Motor Trend (2012 TDI model)
  • "The DSG automated manual transmission that's available with the turbodiesel engine and standard with the V6 works very well, and its regular and manual-shift modes mean the Passat is well suited both for commuting and more spirited driving." -- Edmunds (2012)

Handling and Braking

Though no reviewer confuses the VW Passat for a BMW 3-Series, many say its handling is impressive for an affordable midsize car. They think the Passat is comfortable, as well as more fun-to-drive than many cars in its class. Most test drivers note that the brakes are strong, but one says it takes longer than expected for the brakes to kick in when the pedal is pressed. Many also report that the steering is precise.

  • "Passat does not feel particularly sporty, but the car is well balanced and more than competent. Cars with the 2.5-liter engine have lighter feeling steering compared to the TDI and V6 models, but all are accurate. Braking is strong, but the first bit of pedal travel gives less stopping action than expected and some drivers find the brakes to be too touchy." -- Consumer Guide
  • "American-centric tuning has softened the suspension, particularly on rebound over gentle undulations, but the Passat drives down the road with a solidity and confidence that speak to its Germanic influence." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "The Passat is an engaging sedan to drive thanks to its well-sorted suspension tuning, precise steering feel and strong brakes." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Body roll is well controlled, especially for a car this size. The front end responds with typical VW accuracy, if not quite as sharply or eagerly as its smaller relatives. While this isn't a sport sedan, its abilities will surprise even enthusiastic buyers in this segment." -- Motor Trend (2012)

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