Buyer's Guide

2021 Volkswagen Passat
Select a Different Model (3 Available): R-Line Sedan
Fuel Economy $ 23 / 34 mpg
Horsepower 174@5,200
Torque 206@1,700
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2021 Volkswagen Passat MODEL OVERVIEW


  • Lots of passenger space
  • Adaptive cruise control now standard
  • Commodious trunk


  • Strange brake pedal feel
  • Outdated infotainment system
  • Lots of wind noise

Volkswagen builds the Passat for drivers seeking a straightforward sedan with plenty of passenger and cargo space. It's powered by a turbo-four engine and is tuned for easy, comfortable driving. The current Passat is based on the one that went on sale in 2012, when it won MotorTrend's Car of the Year award. It was updated for 2020 with new styling and features.

What's New

  • All trims now equipped with adaptive cruise control
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob become standard
  • The SE trim gets 18-inch wheels and a sunroof
  • R-Line is now the highest trim; SEL trim is discontinued
  • Built-in navigation, premium audio, and adaptive headlights are included on the R-Line trim

What We Think

The Passat won MotorTrend's Car of the Year award back in 2012, but the midsize sedan segment—and the industry as a whole—has come a long way since then. Despite a restyle in 2020, the Passat remains the same old car underneath.

In an era defined by technology, the Passat lags behind. See the tiny gauge cluster information display for evidence. The infotainment touchscreen is smaller than some competitors' and runs an older user interface. However, standard adaptive cruise control added for 2021 is welcome.

On the road, the Passat can't keep up with newer sedans. Long gears hinder its acceleration, and handling is artificially light, if precise. Stopping distances are good, although the  strange-feeling brake pedal doesn't inspire confidence. At least ride quality is comfortable, and the cabin is roomy, but there's a bit more wind noise than we'd like.

Now nearly a decade old, the Passat is in need of a redesign. But with sedan sales dropping and Volkswagen's focus on EVs, we wonder what will become of this renowned nameplate

Performance and Fuel Economy

The Passat uses a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine producing 174 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. It uses a six-speed automatic to drive the front wheels. Acceleration from 0-60 mph takes 7.8 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy for the 2021 Passat is 24/36 mpg city/highway.


From the IIHS, the Passat earns the top Good score in all crashworthiness tests. The upgraded LED projector headlights found on the SEL trim also get a Good score, but its standard headlights get a Marginal score, the second lowest.

Standard driver-assist and active safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and, new for 2021 model year base models, adaptive cruise control. Automatic windshield wipers and high beams are included on the SE and R-Line trims.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Cargo capacity in the Passat's trunk measures 15.9 cubic feet.

When a sunroof isn't equipped, front-row headroom in the Passat measures 38.3 inches, which compares to 39.5 inches in the Honda Accord. Second-row headroom is 37.8 inches in the Passat, a bit more than 37.3 inches in the Accord. Front-row legroom is close, measuring 42.4 inches in the Volkswagen and 42.3 inches in the Honda. The Passat has slightly less rear legroom, with 39.1 inches to the Accord's 40.4 inches.


All Passat trims include a 6.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; built-in navigation is standard only on R-Line trim. There's also a small black-and-white information display in the gauge cluster. The entry-level S trim has one front-row USB port, while the SE and R-Line trims add two second-row ports. A six-speaker audio system is standard, and a nine-speaker Fender premium setup is included on the R-Line trim.

Trim Levels

2021 Volkswagen Passat S

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Cloth seating upholstery
  • LED headlights and taillights

2021 Volkswagen Passat SE

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Keyless entry with push-button start
  • Leatherette seating surfaces
  • Two second-row USB ports

2021 Volkswagen Passat R-Line

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Sport-inspired body styling
  • Interior ambient lighting
  • Steering-adaptive LED headlights

Key Competitors:

Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl Turbo 2.0 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, Tiptronic® 6 Speed Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode
R-Line Sedan
Passenger Car
Standard MPG
Body Style
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
Maintenance Warranty Months
Corrosion Warranty Months
Powertrain Warranty Miles
Full Warranty Miles
Powertrain Warranty Months
Full Warranty Months
Roadside Assistance Miles
Maintenance Warranty Miles
Roadside Assistance Months
IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$0 1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 2.4% Financing for a maximum term of 75 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Volkswagen announces special APR financing on select models. 03-01-2021
$500 Volkswagen announces a College Graduate program for customers who finance or lease through Volkswagen Credit on select models. 01-03-2022