2018 Volkswagen Passat

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MSRP: $22,995 - 34,650

2018 Volkswagen Passat Review

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat is an OK car in a class filled with lots of tough competition. Though it has loads of room and a smooth ride, rival cars have nicer interiors and nimbler handling. These drawbacks place the Passat in the lower half of our rankings.

8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Extremely spacious seats
  • Large trunk
  • Smooth ride
  • Competitors are more upscale inside
  • Rivals have more impressive tech offerings

New for 2018

  • New turbo-four base engine
  • New Passat GT model
  • Longer warranty than previous model years

Is the Volkswagen Passat a Good Car?

While the Volkswagen Passat doesn’t have the highest ranking, it's still a good car. It has an enormously roomy cabin with comfortable seats. The Passat has two peppy engines to choose from, and it delivers a smooth, composed ride that makes it great for cruising around. However, some competitors have more athletic handling, additional tech features, and a higher-quality cabin. With such stiff competition in the highly competitive midsize car class, this VW seems mediocre next to its rivals.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Passat?

The Passat isn’t the best option. It’s a good car, but there are many better midsize cars out there, some of which have lower starting prices than the VW. The Honda Accord is a better all-around car that surpasses this Volkswagen in nearly every way. If you like the Passat but don't need as much space, check out the smaller Volkswagen Jetta.

Compare the Passat, Accord, and Jetta »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Passat?

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat is part of a generation that began with the 2012 model year. There have been several notable changes over the years. A rearview camera became available for 2013, and 2014 models debuted an available turbocharged engine and added a standard rearview camera to the SE trim and above. Volkswagen refreshed the Passat for 2016, adding a standard infotainment system, more available driver assistance features, and new connectivity features. The automaker added standard forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking for 2017. The 2018 Passat adds a new turbo-four base engine, a new Passat GT model, and a longer warranty. We recommend focusing your search on Passat models from 2016 or later.

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

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volkswagen Passat »
We Did the Research for You: 60 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2018 Volkswagen Passat review uses research and data from the 2012 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Passat Cost?

The Passat’s base price is just shy of $23,000. That’s in the middle of the pack for a midsize car, though it’s much closer to the low end of the spectrum than the high end (lots of cars in the class start at around $22,000-$24,000). There are several higher trims, with the top trim starting at about $35,000.

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 Honda Accord?

Both the Passat and the Honda Accord have similar starting prices, but there's no contest over which is the better car. The Accord gives you everything you'll get from the Passat, like a comfortable ride, powerful engines, and plenty of space. But in many other categories, it surpasses the Passat. Inside, the Honda offers an easier-to-use infotainment system and a larger trunk. The Accord also has superior gas mileage and more engaging handling.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Passat or Volkswagen Jetta?

The Volkswagen Jetta is a compact car with a base price that's roughly $4,300 less than the Passat's. While the Jetta is smaller, it has a massive trunk for its size, and there's a decent amount of seating space. The Jetta gets better fuel economy as well. That said, the Passat is worth the extra money. It has a nicer interior, more standard features, and an available V6 engine that is more potent than any of the Jetta’s available engines. If your budget allows it, go with the roomier, more luxurious, and more powerful Passat. If you don't need as much space, the Passat's smaller sibling is a great alternative.

Compare the Passat, Accord, and Jetta »

Passat Interior

How Many People Does the Passat Seat?

This Volkswagen sedan seats five, and there isn’t a bad spot to sit. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the rear seats are among the most spacious in the class.

Passat and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors, and the Passat’s LATCH system is a good one. The tether anchors are easy to find and identify, while the lower anchors don’t require much force to attach car seat straps.

Passat Interior Quality

The Passat’s interior is nice. It’s attractive and generally well-built. However, there are also some hard plastics throughout, so this VW doesn’t have the upscale feel of some competitors.

Passat Cargo Space

This VW bests many of its rivals when it comes to cargo space thanks to its nearly 16-cubic-foot trunk. That’s enough space for more than a dozen shopping bags or four sets of golf clubs.

Passat Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Passat include a six-speaker audio system and the MIB II infotainment system with a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Available features include a sunroof, a Fender audio system, satellite radio, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 6.3-inch touch screen, an additional USB port, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

The Passat’s tech features don’t really stand out in any way. Rivals offer pretty much everything you can get in this VW (including connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), and while the infotainment system isn’t too difficult to use, it’s not noted for its intuitiveness either. Additionally, the Passat’s touch screens are smaller than those in many rivals.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Passat Performance

Passat Engine: New Turbo-4, Same V6

The Passat gets a new base engine for 2018: a 174-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder. It’s pretty lively, and acceleration is quick. A couple of trims feature a 280-horsepower V6 that trades fuel economy for a more enjoyable driving experience.

Passat Gas Mileage: Not Great, but Not Horrible

The Passat’s gas mileage is below average for the class, but it’s in line with or close to the ratings some nonhybrid competitors earn. With the turbo-four, the Passat gets 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The V6 gets 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

By driving the Passat, you’ll spend about the same on gas each year as you would in a Mazda6, but you’ll spend about $150 more than you would in a Honda Accord.

Passat Ride and Handling: A Solid Cruiser

The Passat prioritizes comfort over athleticism. It doesn’t have the sharp steering or agility of some cars in the class, but it provides a smooth ride around town and easily soaks up road imperfections.

Read more about performance »

Passat Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Passat Reliable?

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. That score is considered average for all new cars on the road.

Volkswagen Passat Warranty

For 2018, Volkswagen doubled the length of the Passat's bumper-to-bumper warranty to six years or 72,000 miles. This is a better warranty than you’ll get with some other midsize cars.

Read more about reliability »

Passat Safety

Passat Crash Test Results

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat earned a perfect five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Passat earned a rating of Good (the highest rating) in five of six tests. It earned a Marginal rating (the second-lowest rating) in the passenger side small overlap front test.

Passat Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features in the Passat include a rearview camera and an Intelligent Crash Response System that turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and activates the hazard lights when the airbags are deployed.

Available active safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and park assist.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Passat Model Is Right for Me?

There are several trims to pick from when choosing a Passat. If you want the V6 engine, however, you have only two options: the GT and the top-of-the-line SEL Premium.

Given the base turbo-four engine’s playful nature, however, there's no need to pony up for the V6. With that in mind, the Passat R-Line and Passat SE make great choices. The SE has a few more features, while the R-Line is a little sportier. If you need more features than they provide, you can step up to the SE with Technology trim.

Volkswagen Passat S

The Passat S has a base price of $22,995. It comes with a 174-horsepower, turbo-four engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Standard features include a rearview camera, a six-speaker audio system, an Intelligent Crash Response System, and the MIB II infotainment system with a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

For $495, you can add the Driver Assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking.

Volkswagen Passat R-Line

The Passat R-Line has a starting price of $24,995. In addition to the base trim’s features, the R-Line comes with leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and an upgraded infotainment system with a 6.3-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Volkswagen Passat SE

The Passat SE has a starting price of $26,295. The SE’s standard features include a sunroof, keyless entry, and push-button start, as well as everything standard in lower trims.

There’s also a Passat SE with Technology, which Volkswagen considers a separate trim. It starts at $29,595. It adds daytime running lights, heated rear seats, remote start, a hands-free power trunk lid, an eight-speaker audio system, and front and rear parking sensors.

Volkswagen Passat GT

The Passat GT is a new trim for 2018. It starts at $29,145 and comes standard with 19-inch wheels, a 280-horsepower V6 engine, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Otherwise, its features list closely resembles the Passat SE’s.

Volkswagen Passat SEL Premium

The Passat SEL Premium starts at $31,650. Standard features include leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, a Fender premium audio system, lane departure warning, park assist, and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation and an additional USB port.

You can also opt for the V6 SEL Premium ($34,650), which features a 280-horsepower V6 engine and a dual-clutch transmission. Otherwise, it has the same features as the SEL Premium with the turbo-four engine.

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 2018 Volkswagen Passat specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat makes for a high-quality cruising sedan. While there are many things the Passat does well, there are very few areas where it’s noticeably better than the competition – and some key areas where it’s worse. That’s why it finishes in the bottom half of our midsize car rankings and why most car shoppers should look past this VW.

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

  • "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." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "It's easy to see why the Passat is so good. When you're popping down to the mall, or the hair salon, sometimes you just need a car that feels unobtrusive -- when you don't want to think about driving, but still want something that feels nice. Here it is! This is the archetypical sedan, the template of four-doored serenity." -- Autoweek (2015)
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