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2016 Volkswagen Passat: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2015

2016 Volkswagen Passat, which offers an updated look -- and new features -- designed to keep the sedan competitive in the face of newer rivals.

Unfortunately, the sedan's relatively simple styling doesn't change too much for the new model year -- a shame, as most rivals now offer stylish, head-turning designs you wouldn't normally associate with midsize sedans.

Other changes are welcome though, including a host of new technology that brings the latest Passat into contention with some of today's most modern, high-tech rivals. The Passat also retains a few other advantages it's always had, like a comfortable ride, a huge trunk, and a large interior with lots of passenger room.

What's New for 2016?

The Passat is heavily updated, but not fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. Changes include slightly revised styling, new technology and safety features, a sporty new R-Line model, and the deletion of last year's popular turbodiesel powertrain -- at least for now.

What We Like

Large interior; lots of new technology; cavernous trunk; smooth and quick available dual-clutch transmission

What We Don't

Very few changes to aging interior and exterior styling; average driving experience; no more diesel

How Much?

$23,500-$37,800

Fuel Economy

The 2016 Passat offers two engines: a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in most models, and an optional 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 for shoppers who want more muscle. At launch, the Passat's fuel-efficient turbodiesel 4-cylinder is no longer available due to the brand's recent diesel emissions scandal, though Volkswagen says this engine could make a comeback soon.

In terms of fuel economy, the 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is mated to a standard 6-speed automatic and returns up to 25 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The 3.6-liter V6, which is mated to a slick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission, touts an excellent 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. All Passat models are front-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The Passat lineup is offered with six trim levels: a base-level 1.8T S, a sporty 1.8T R-Line, a midlevel 1.8T SE and SEL, and upscale trims dubbed 1.8T SEL Premium and V6 Premium.

The base-level 1.8T S ($23,400) includes dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, an automatic post-collision braking system, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a backup camera, automatic headlights, and a 5-in center screen with an auxiliary port, Bluetooth, a USB port for music and a CD player.

Next up is the sporty 1.8T R-Line ($24,900), which primarily adds performance-themed styling touches, such as 19-in alloy wheels, unique R-Line bumpers, a rear diffuser and leather-wrapped interior items like a steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle.

The midlevel 1.8T SE ($27,200) builds on the base-level S trim, adding 17-in alloy wheels, a power sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped shift level and parking brake handle, SiriusXM radio, a 6.3-in touchscreen and new technology features, such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and automatic forward-collision braking.

Drivers interested in adding more technology to the SE can get that model's Technology package, which adds about $2,200 to the SE's base price. Features include a HomeLink garage door opener, a hands-free trunk opener, passive entry with push-button starting, automatic wipers, a navigation system, heated rear seats, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking.

Next up is the 1.8T SEL ($31,500), which includes all the features in the SE's Technology package, plus 18-in alloy wheels, a Fender audio system, leather upholstery, dual power front seats, driver-side memory settings and a rear-seat trunk pass-through.

Topping that is the 1.8T SEL Premium ($35,300), which boasts LED headlights and LED taillights, power-folding mirrors, a remote starter, a full-color driver information display in the gauge cluster, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parallel parking system.

Finally, at the top of the Passat's range is the V6 SEL Premium ($37,800), which adds the 280-hp V6, the dual-clutch automatic transmission and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Although the Passat isn't offered with many options, drivers can choose from a few additional features. Among them are the aforementioned Technology package for SE models, along with a Comfort package for the R-Line that offers leatherette upholstery, heated front seats and more. Several models also offer an available Lighting package that includes the LED headlights and taillights standard in the SEL Premium trim.

Safety

Although the 2016 Passat has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Satefy Administration, we expect it to earn the same 5-star overall score last year's model achieved. Volkswagen also expects the new Passat will earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ score, beating out last year's Top Safety Pick rating due to additional equipment.

As for safety features, the Passat offers basically all the latest gadgets available today. Standard features include side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes, while options range from automatic forward-collision braking to adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, an automated parallel parking system, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

Behind the Wheel

Despite updates to its styling and a lot of new features, the Passat seems just about the same as it ever was when you climb behind the wheel. Think decent visibility, comfortable ride, a nice -- but not class-leading -- interior, and predictable -- but rather dull -- handling and steering. In short, this has been the midsize sedan for drivers who prioritize comfort over performance or style since its debut in 2012, and the 2016 model doesn't do much to change that.

When it comes to powertrains, we're impressed with the combination of the Passat's smooth, powerful V6 and its quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic. However, the vast majority of drivers will get the 4-cylinder, which seems just a bit overmatched by the Passat's large size. Still, it offers strong fuel economy and a fairly smooth transmission of its own, so we'll look past the average acceleration.

Although Volkswagen says the Passat's interior is updated to offer nicer materials for 2016, you'll basically need a guide to show you where those changes have taken place. Sure, some portions of the Passat's cabin look a bit nicer for the latest model year, but the biggest news here is the revised infotainment system, which strikes us as pretty easy to use, and all the new safety and technology features.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford Fusion -- The midsize Ford Fusion offers handsome styling, lots of technology and more powertrain choices than the Passat. It also touts sharper handling. However, the Passat boasts a bigger interior.

2016 Honda Accord -- The Honda Accord is a clear class leader thanks to its roomy cabin, excellent reputation for reliability and wide range of fuel-efficient powertrains. The revised Passat offers a strong challenge though.

2016 Hyundai Sonata -- The recently updated Hyundai Sonata shares a lot of the Passat's benefits, including lots of technology, competitive pricing and a large, comfortable interior.

Used Audi A6 -- If you like the Passat but are looking for a little more luxury or a premium brand name, you might want to check out the Audi A6. Prices are higher though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat makes a lot of crucial changes for the latest model year in order to remain highly competitive with a very accomplished crop of rivals. If we were buying a 2016 Passat, we'd pick the SE model, which offers affordable pricing and an impressive array of gadgets and safety features. We might even be convinced to go for the $2,200 Technology package, which adds luxury carlike features and still keeps the Passat's price under $30,000.

Find a Volkswagen Passat for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S
Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat
$14,433
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S
Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat
$12,600
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S
Certified 2016 Volkswagen Passat
$12,700
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Volkswagen Passat: New Car Review - Autotrader