The market for cars in the U.S. might be on the decline, but the mid-size sedan segment is as hot as ever. In May, Volkswagen celebrated a huge milestone with the production of the 700,000th Passat in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and although the current model has been around since 2011, the 2018 Volkswagen Passat brings some key upgrades.
Looking to stay competitive against new rivals like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima, Volkswagen has brought a handful of changes to the 2018 Passat, including a longer bumper-to-bumper warranty and a new base engine promising more power and better fuel economy. To see how these updates hold up against brand-new competitors, we spent a week driving the 2018 Volkswagen Passat SE with the Technology package.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Exterior
The current Passat is getting close to the end of its lifecycle, but a modest design update for the 2016 model year brought a more mature styling and helped keep this sedan relevant against newer competitors. Aside from the addition of a sporty new GT trim level, the 2018 Volkswagen Passat carries over unchanged in terms of design, and VW’s current design language has a modern and simplistic look to it. Surprisingly, this language looks good on everything from the compact Golf up to the all-new Atlas three-row SUV.
When it comes to the Passat, the 2016 facelift brought a more dynamic front end with a sportier lower fascia, a little extra chrome to the grille and more modern-looking headlights. In the case of this Passat SE w/ Technology, that includes standard full-LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights and fog lights. This trim level also adds the 18-inch split-spoke “Chattanooga” alloy wheels.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Interior
What the 2018 Volkswagen Passat lacks in a flashy exterior design, it makes up for with a cavernous interior. The traditional sedan lines open up enormous space for occupants, including rear-seat accommodations that provide more legroom than the full-size Genesis G90 luxury sedan – 1.3 inches more to be exact! And while we’re comparing VW’s mid-size sedan to Genesis’ flagship sedan, the 2018 Passat also manages more trunk space, with 15.9 cubic feet of available cargo volume.
Although the Passat SE is the mid-grade trim level for this sedan, stepping up to the SE w/ Technology brings more luxurious content from the range-topping SEL trim level. This includes heated front and rear seats, front ambient lighting, remote start and hands-free Easy Open trunk. The SE comes standard with leatherette seats, which feels about as close as you’d expect to leather in this price range, and it also gets the Discover Media 6.3-inch touch screen with navigation and an eight-speaker audio system. All the color combinations look great, as do the granite-looking trim on the instrument panel and center console. That said, some of the touch points feel a bit on the cheap side, and VW’s placement of the push-button starter next to the shift lever is an odd choice.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Powertrain
The new base engine for the 2018 Volkswagen Passat is a 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled inline-four, which VW says is the brand’s most advanced four-cylinder ever. This engine produces 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, which is only a slight bump in ponies from the 2017 model year, but it also gets a considerable boost in fuel economy. The 2018 Passat 2.0T returns EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.* For comparison, the Passat’s previous base engine (a 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder) had 170 horsepower and EPA estimates of 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.* What doesn’t change is VW’s proven six-speed automatic transmission.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Safety
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat scored a perfect five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The added price of the SE w/ Technology trim level brings the latest in safety technology including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with autonomous-emergency braking, VW’s Park Pilot, and blind-spot monitor with rear-traffic alert.
2018 Volkswagen Passat Overall
The market for mid-size family sedans might not seem super exciting, but these cars offer excellent value, comfort, and efficiency. Adding the new base engine to the 2018 Volkswagen Passat increased efficiency, while VW’s People First Warranty – with six-year/ 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage – adds to the Passat’s overall value. Of course its starting price of $22,440** is also extremely attractive, and there are plenty of options for buyers to choose. If you need a well-equipped sedan with all the latest safety features, then the SE w/ Technology is an attractive choice, with lots of content and a reasonable as-tested price of $30,445.**
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealership and test drive the 2018 Volkswagen Passat today!
*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
**MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.