The 2019 Volkswagen Passat comes into the current model year with a simplified lineup. This midsize sedan still manages to offer several advanced driver aids — some of them standard in the lower trim — despite the many years this generation has been around (since 2011).
The Passat also has other standout features. Like a comfortable and quiet cabin, lots of passenger space (39.1 inches of rear legroom) and a huge trunk (15.9 cu ft.). The driving experience, however, is not exactly thrilling, and the styling leans toward understatement and inoffensiveness. Such an approach has its own particular appeal, even if it does make the best-selling Toyota Camry seem almost like a rebellious choice.
What’s New for 2019?
Trim levels are reduced to just two: The Wolfsburg Edition and the SE R-Line. This means a redistribution of standard equipment and a cutting down of options, while discontinuing the V6 engine/dual-clutch transmission drivetrain. Terra Brown Metallic joins the list of exterior paint options.
What We Like
Large interior; generous standard equipment; cavernous trunk
What We Don’t
Timid styling; unremarkable driving experience
The sole engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter/4-cylinder unit making 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It connects to a 6-speed automatic transmission and drives the front wheels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 25 miles per gallon in city driving, 36 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Volkswagen Passat comes in Wolfsburg Edition and SE R-Line trim levels.
The Wolfsburg Edition ($26,190) includes 17-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, simulated leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an automatic post-collision braking system, forward-collision mitigation with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 60/40-split/fold rear seats, a rearview camera, automatic headlights, a 6.3-in infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration (VW Car-Net App-Connect), AM/FM/HD/satellite radio, a CD player, a 6-speaker audio system, auxiliary input and a USB port.
This trim level is eligible for 18-in alloy wheels and a power tilt-and-slide sunroof.
The SE R-Line ($30,890) has 19-in alloy wheels, R-Line cosmetic exterior and interior additions, full LED exterior lighting, a power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, ambient cabin lighting, a remote start function, a hands-free trunk opening, a self-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, active blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, parking sensors front and rear, navigation, a Fender-branded audio system and two USB ports. There are no options for this trim.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Passat five stars out of five overall, with four stars for front-impact performance and five for side impacts. The car also earned a Top Safety Pick score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with maximum scores of Good across the board, except for the headlights, which were considered Poor.
Standard features include side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and an automatic post-collision braking system that might prevent or at least reduce the severity of a secondary coming-together after an initial impact.
Behind the Wheel
This midsize sedan prioritizes comfort over performance or style, offering decent outward vision, a supple ride, a nice-enough interior and predictable, yet dull, handling. The 4-cylinder engine seems a bit overwhelmed by the Passat’s large size. Still, it offers strong fuel economy and a fairly smooth transmission, so it’s probably best to look past the average acceleration.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Ford Fusion — Handsome styling, lots of technology, sharper handling, lower starting price and more powertrain choices than the Passat. The VW has a bigger interior, though.
2019 Honda Accord — A clear class leader thanks to its roomy cabin, excellent reliability and fuel-efficient powertrains. An all-new generation debuted for 2018.
2019 Hyundai Sonata — Shares a lot of the Passat’s benefits, including lots of technology, competitive pricing and a large, comfortable interior.
2019 Toyota Camry — Solid, dependable and a perennial best-seller. It even has some attitude in its design. Like the Accord, this generation debuted for 2018.
The Wolfsburg Edition has a lot of standard equipment for the price, and it seems counterintuitive to splash out for the SE R-Line instead of buying a fresher rival. A new generation is anticipated for 2020.