Once one of Volkswagen's most successful cars in the United States, the Passat enters its final year of production with a Limited Edition trim. It rides on the platform that's been on sale in the United States since 2012, the same year it won our MotorTrend Car of the Year award. The Passat last received a major refresh in 2020. Although this midsize sedan no longer feels like a fresh offering, it comes with the traditional advantages of its segment, namely a comfortable ride, a large trunk, and spacious interior.
As Volkswagen continues to focus on SUVs, the Passat got pushed to the wayside. It doesn't enjoy many of the updates that its stablemates have received in the last few years, making do with a tiny screen in the otherwise analog gauge cluster and the last-generation version of VW's infotainment user interface.
The Passat still provides a comfortable ride and a roomy, if barren, cabin, but it lags behind its competitors in acceleration and on-road dynamics. Brake pedal feel remains a point of frustration; odd calibration makes it hard to trust the Passat when hauling down from higher speeds.
A new Limited Edition trim offers a comprehensive list of standard equipment, but buyers dead set on a VW may want to look at another model in the lineup that has received a bit more attention.
Volkswagen offers the Passat with just one engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that develops 174 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. It's optimized for easy, relaxed driving and doesn't fare well when compared with the power delivery of its competitors. The six-speed automatic transmission is partially responsible for this underperformance and suffers from too-long gearing and slower shifts than other gearboxes on sale right now. Fuel economy is decent, with an EPA-rated 24/36 mpg city/highway.
Volkswagen won't be offering its IQ.Drive safety assistance tech for the Passat's last year, but the midsize sedan does come standard with a roster of driver aids. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control are all standard. Volkswagen dropped the base S trim, so now automatic windshield wipers and high-beams are standard, as well. The top-of-the-line Limited Edition trim adds adaptive front lighting and front and rear parking sensors.
Despite the Passat's shortcomings as one of the oldest entries in the midsize sedan segment, the Passat stands out with great cargo space and legroom. The trunk can swallow 15.9 cubic feet of goods, although that's still smaller than the Honda Accord's 16.7 cubic feet.
Compared even to other models in the VW portfolio, much less its competitors, the Passat falls short. Its 6.3-inch infotainment screen is on the smaller side, especially when you factor in the availability of an 8.0-inch unit in other models sold by Volkswagen. The small display between the tachometer and speedometer is still black and white, a glaring representation of how far behind the Passat has fallen in recent years. There are a total of three USB ports in the Passat as standard equipment. A six-speaker sound system comes with the now-base SE model; the R-Line and Limited Edition trims receive an upgraded nine-speaker Fender premium setup.
Folks who want to snag one last Passat before it's discontinued should opt for the Limited Edition trim, which starts at just over $31,000. These models come fully loaded, receiving a bevy of unique touches. The Passat Limited Edition rides on 18-inch wheels and has fully upgraded LED headlights with adaptive front lighting. It has parking sensors for the front and rear, a hands-free opening trunk, and power folding mirrors. Volkswagen adds navigation to the infotainment unit and its premium nine-speaker Fender audio system. The cabin also gets upgrades in the form of leather seats, heated front and rear seats, a power passenger seat, and memory settings for the driver's seat.
Volkswagen will build 1,973 examples of the Passat Limited Edition. The number represents the year the first Passat was introduced in Europe. Within this total production volume, Volkswagen will sell the Passat in specific quantities in four color combinations, with the numeral of each total signifying something significant from the Passat's history. The reasoning for each is more than a little convoluted, but here's the breakdown:
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