A comfortable ride and a spacious interior make the 2017 Volkswagen Passat one of the more accommodating choices in its class, but that’s just where the story begins. Newly standard safety technologies provide the assurance that the Passat is a great family car, while a pair of refined engine choices contribute to a composed driving experience.
The Volkswagen Passat is a midsize car that seats five and comes with front-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine are standard, while a more powerful V6 and a six-speed automated manual transmission are available.
For 2017, the Passat is offered in S, R-Line, SE and SEL Premium trims. All models now come standard with forward collision warning with automatic braking, while blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is included on R-Line and SE trims.
The 2017 Passat has an understated look that’s unlikely to garner polarizing opinions from potential buyers. It may lack the visual flair of competitors like the Mazda6, but the Passat’s sheet metal is handsome, with clean lines that project a stately appearance. A wide grille lends some athleticism to the overall exterior design, while standard automatic headlights illuminate the road ahead. A side view reveals standard 16-inch alloy wheels, while higher trims bring in unique wheel designs that range in size from 17 to 19 inches.
Higher trims offer a full complement of LED exterior lights, as well as heated side mirrors, fog lights, power-folding side mirrors and a sunroof.
Though the current Passat has been on the market since 2012, its cabin continues to impress. The interior is airy, even by midsize-car standards, with plenty of passenger space up front and a back seat that’s one of the roomiest in the class. The Passat’s trunk also offers ample room for cargo, with 15.9 cubic feet of space and a useful shape that easily accommodates bulkier items.
The interior design is a bit austere, at least in comparison with what you’ll find in competitors like the Ford Fusion. However, the Passat’s straightforward dash and center stack may age more gracefully, and the materials used throughout are of impressive quality for the class.
The base Passat comes with cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control and manually adjustable front seats. Higher trims add features such as power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats and leatherette or leather upholstery.
Refined, powerful and comfortable, the 2017 Passat should hit the sweet spot for buyers who want a midsize car with composed driving dynamics and Germanic appeal. Our test Passat V6 may have lacked the athletic handling of competitors like the Mazda6, but the ride was always composed during our week behind the wheel. When needed, our test car’s 3.6-liter V6 offered a smooth rush of power with 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That engine is paired with a six-speed automated manual transmission, and we found the combination smooth and responsive in both city and highway driving.
While we enjoyed the additional power provided by the available V6, many buyers will probably opt for the turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that comes with the base model. We’ve sampled that engine in cars like the 2016 Volkswagen Golf, where we enjoyed its smooth power deliver and wide power band. In this application, the turbo-four delivers 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and it’s mated to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.
With the base engine, the 2017 Passat earns an EPA-estimated 23/34 mpg city/highway. V6-powered models see lower estimates of 20/28 mpg.
The Passat’s infotainment offerings include a choice of two touch-screen infotainment systems, and each offers intuitive on-screen menus and traditional buttons and knobs to access most primary functions. The base model comes with a 5-inch touch screen, as well as Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary inputs and a six-speaker sound system.
All other trims come with an upgraded infotainment system with a 6.3-inch touch screen, which is bundled with satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Navigation and a premium Fender audio system are also offered.
The 2017 Passat earned a top five-star rating for its overall performance in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Passat performed well in most tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), earning top scores of Good in all crashworthiness categories and an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.
Every 2017 Passat comes standard with a rearview camera and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking. Higher trims add driver-assistive features that can include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, parallel park assist, front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The base Passat S starts at $22,440 plus an $820 destination charge. R-Line models start at $23,975, while the SE and SEL Premium trims begin at $25,495 and $30,995, respectively. A V6 engine becomes available on the Passat SE with Technology, which is priced from $29,295 and includes upgrades like navigation, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
Our test Passat was an SEL Premium model with the V6, which carries all of the available bells and whistles with a suggested price of $34,815, including destination.
We appreciate that even the base Passat comes with safety features like forward collision warning, and we recommend the R-Line trim as a strong value within the lineup. For roughly $1,500 more than the base model, the Passat R-Line brings in standard features we’d want, including blind-spot monitoring, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats and the upgraded infotainment system with satellite radio and the latest smartphone mirroring technologies. Expect the Passat R-Line to carry a suggested price of $24,795 with destination included.
While many of its competitors have been more recently redesigned, the 2017 Passat remains a competitive entry within the midsize-car segment. Its newly standard driver assistance features provide a high level of assurance to anyone who wants a safe family car, and the Passat’s roominess should keep everyone comfortable on longer drives.
It can get pricey if you want the available V6, but we think the Passat represents a decent value at the R-Line and SE trim levels, where you’ll benefit from handsome interior upgrades and attractive technology features.