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2018 Honda Accord vs. 2018 Volkswagen Passat: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Eric Brandt September 2018
  • The 2018 Honda Accord is all new while the 2018 Volkswagen Passat is mostly unchanged since 2011.

  • Both cars have roomy interiors with modern technology throughout.

  • The Passat has a lower starting price than the Accord, but whether it's a better value is debatable.

You have a lot of options when shopping for a midsize sedan. One of the most prominent cars in this class is the Honda Accord, which has been a popular class leader for decades. One of its competitors that's often forgotten by American drivers is the Volkswagen Passat.

The Passat is a perfectly utilitarian sedan, but you can tell by looking at it that it's not the most exciting car in its class. Can it compete with one of the long-standing leaders in this segment? Let's take a look at how the Volkswagen Passat compares to the Honda Accord.

Exterior

The first thing you'll notice about these two cars is that the Accord looks much more modern than the Passat. That's because the Accord is all-new for 2018 and the Passat has been in its current generation since 2011. The exterior dimensions of both cars are very similar, putting them right in line with the rest of the midsize class.

The Passat is very conservatively styled, in our opinion, to the point of looking a bit boring. It's one thing to fly under the radar, but the Passat just looks dull compared to more recently restyled competitors including the all-new Accord.

Interior

The conservative styling of the Passat continues on the inside. The Volkswagen's interior is practical and pragmatic with a design that won't dazzle you but will continue looking clean and handsome for years to come. Volkswagen went the safe route when designing the Passat and achieved an interior design that is sure to age nicely.

The Accord's interior is a little more interesting. It has an interior design that looks and feels a little more premium than its price suggests. Everything is clear and easy to read, and all controls are comfortably within reach.

As for space, the Accord is a little roomier than the Passat. Back seat passengers will appreciate the generous legroom in the back of the Honda, and despite having a little less legroom, two adults, or three in a pinch, can still comfortably fit in the back of the Volkswagen.

Mechanicals

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat has two different engines available, and the 2018 Honda Accord has three. The base engine in the Passat is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four that makes 174 horsepower. That's a pretty weak number with most other turbocharged engines that size making well over 200 hp, including one in the Accord that we'll get to shortly. The base engine in the Passat returns decent fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway. The Passat is also available with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 hp and returns 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

The base engine in the Accord is more powerful and more efficient than the base engine in the Passat. It's a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four that makes 192 hp and gets great fuel economy of 30 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. Upgrade to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and you'll be treated to 252 hp, while still getting up to 29 mpg city/35 mpg hwy. Finally, a hybrid drivetrain is available in the Accord, which turns the fuel economy numbers way up to 47 mpg city/47 mpg hwy, and performance is respectable at 212 hp. It's worth noting that the Accord is available with a manual transmission with either of its non-hybrid engines, and there is no manual option in the Passat.

The Honda is the obvious mechanical winner over the Passat. The VW's V6 might be more powerful than any engine in the Accord, but all of the Accord's engines blend performance and efficiency better than either engine in the Passat. Not to mention the added variety of the hybrid and manual options.

Infotainment

Many Volkswagens got updated infotainment systems for the 2018 model year, and unfortunately, the Passat wasn't one of them. The MIB II system in the Passat has a pretty slow response time to user inputs, which can be pretty frustrating, especially while driving. When it isn't lagging, however, it's not a bad system, and it's intuitive and easy to use.

The HondaLink system in the Accord is much snappier with quick responses to user inputs. One thing that it's curiously lacking, however, is an audio aux jack that comes with the Passat. This can be a big downside if you rely on an aux jack for your audio.

Both systems are available with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, but neither come standard with those connectivity features across all trims.

We prefer the Honda's infotainment system over the VW's, but the lack of an aux jack could be a deal breaker for some drivers.

Safety

Driver-assistance safety features that used to be exclusive to luxury cars are quickly becoming common on economy cars like these. The excellent Honda Sensing safety tech suite is standard on every 2018 Accord, and it includes such features as adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

The Passat has these features available, but none of them come standard on every trim. Adding these features can make the Passat pretty expensive, so if you want this convenient safety tech at an affordable price point, the Accord is the car for you.

Pricing

The Passat has a starting MSRP of $22,995, and the Accord starts at $23,570. The slightly higher starting price of the Accord is easily justified by its standard Honda Sensing, a better engine, and the fact that it's an all-new model with a more modern look inside and out.

Both of these cars can get into the $30k range when you explore the higher trims that include features like heated leather seats, a sunroof, navigation and premium audio.

Conclusion

To us, there's a clear winner between these two midsize sedans, and it's the Honda Accord. The Accord benefited a lot from its new generation, which took an already great family car and made it even better. With better engines, a hybrid option for fuel misers, manual options for enthusiasts and a ton of standard safety tech, the Accord simply blows the Passat away.

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New 2018 Honda Accord EX-L
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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.
2018 Honda Accord vs. 2018 Volkswagen Passat: Which Is Better? - Autotrader