$13,378 - $22,317

2016 Volkswagen Passat Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Volkswagen Passat was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat gets ample power from its base engine and eager acceleration from the available V6, according to critics. They praise the smooth ride, although some think the steering and handling could be more responsive.

  • Despite not changing the powertrains, the 2016 Passat boasts a healthy fuel economy improvement. There are additional underbody aerodynamic aids, which bump the coefficient of drag down from 0.293 to 0.285. A clever HVAC compressor and some electrical wizardry in the alternator help contribute to a final rating of 25 miles per gallon city and 38 mpg highway." -- Autoblog
  • "Overall though the Passat earns high marks for its relaxed refined demeanor in everyday driving." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Some midsize family sedans strive to be sporty while others go for comfort. As with premium German-engineered cars costing thousands more, the VW Passat deftly splits the difference." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "You can tell there's some real handling capability in there that a sport-tuned suspension would tease out (cue the new-for-2014 Sport model), but the default setup is definitely geared toward comfort. Nonetheless, the Passat dances well enough -- and in ordinary driving, it offers a quiet cabin and generally excellent shock-absorption." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Passat comes standard with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that puts out 170 horsepower. A 3.6-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower is available. A six-speed automatic transmission is mated to the four-cylinder, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is paired with the V6. The Passat gets an EPA-estimated 25/38 mpg city/highway, which is just above average for the class. The Passat diesel model is currently unavailable in the U.S.

Test drivers say the base four-cylinder engine provides good punch and minimal turbo lag, and most feel the base six-speed transmission it’s paired with shifts sufficiently well. The available V6 is mated to the new dual-clutch six-speed, and critics say it offers more energetic acceleration.

  • "The new transmission is a huge step up and we're seriously impressed with it. Unfortunately, the Passat's far-more-popular 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder still makes do with the usual 6-speed automatic. It's a smooth, agreeable transmission in its own right, but hardly as impressive as the dual-clutch." -- AutoTrader
  • "Plus, much like VW's larger 2.0-liter turbo, the smaller 1.8T has an excellent grasp on turbo lag. This engine feels punchy, energetic, and honestly, fun. It's happy to rev, and regardless of where the tach needle falls, there's both power and a pleasant, refined exhaust note." -- Autoblog
  • "While the 280-hp V-6 is noticeably more powerful and shifts smoother thanks to it’s a (sic) dual-clutch automatic transmission, there's little reason to spend almost $38,000 on a fully loaded Passat when you can spend that kind of money on a well-equipped Acura TLX, Buick Regal GS with all-wheel drive, or even a base Lexus ES." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "We think most buyers will be quite happy with the 1.8-liter engine. It's quick and smooth and provides good fuel economy. … For those who care more about high power than high fuel mileage the 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers much more enthusiastic acceleration." -- Edmunds (2015)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel drive Passat handles road imperfections with ease, according to test drivers. Some think the Passat provides responsive steering and handling, but others say its agility is unremarkable and the steering is vague.

  • "That's bad news for Volkswagen, as the Passat's dynamics, while fundamentally sound, are not particularly noteworthy. The ride is relatively soft, the tires not particularly responsive on-center. These combine for a not-inconsiderable amount of slack in the steering that must be taken up before the Passat takes a set into a curve. It's entirely competent, but not much of a stand-out in that regard. Without driving them immediately back-to-back, we'd struggle to point out the Passat's dynamic advantages over a similarly-optioned Sonata or Accord, and that's assuming there are any to be found. We're skeptical." -- Left Lane News
  • "The chassis is still one of the best in its class. It absorbs uneven and challenging surfaces with aplomb, but it's also a lot of fun. The Passat is agile and composed, with precise steering that's definitely on the lighter side. This family sedan doesn't mind playing when nobody is watching." -- Car and Driver
  • "The steering is weighted well and aside from an abundance of body roll, the Passat feels good in the bends. Still, it lacks the sort of flickability and precision that was present in the B6 Passat. The flipside, of course, is that VW engineered the new Passat to be incredibly comfortable. Whether it be big, road-spanning potholes or uneven, washboard surfaces, this VW feels poised throughout, soaking up everything the road can throw at it without much complaining." -- Autoblog
  • "On the highway it's smooth, solid and quiet. Point it in the direction of a twisty road, and you'll find a surprisingly entertaining driver." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

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