Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Last year, Volkswagen completely reinvented the Passat mid-size sedan, and aimed it straight at the heart of American shoppers. Bigger, conservatively styled, with lots of standard equipment and a lower price, the Passat retained its German driving feel even though VW now builds it in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For 2013, the Passat continues to deliver great value for money.
You'll Like The 2013 Volkswagen Passat If...
Looking for a roomy, mid-size sedan that offers an assortment of powertrains and lots of standard content? Like the idea of genuine German driving characteristics with a Made in America label? Want it all for a starting price in the low $20K range? Check out the 2013 Volkswagen Passat.
You May Not Like The 2013 Volkswagen Passat If...
Although starting around the $20K price sweet spot, options packages and higher trim levels quickly push the 2013 Volkswagen Passat into $30K territory. And if you’re looking to make a visual statement, the sharp-looking Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima will draw more attention.
After its thorough remake last year, aimed specifically at attracting more American consumers, Volkswagen’s mid-size Passat sedan is little changed for 2013. Some tweaking inside makes the center console’s cup holders and storage space more functional, and a rearview camera is now offered on the top SEL trim level.
The 2013 VW Passat isn’t flashy inside. Think clean lines and tasteful – but not overdone – chrome highlights. Lower-end Passats can look vanilla, but moving up to the Premium level adds an Autumn Nut Burl wood-trim detail that brings some visual interest to the cabin. Base S models come with standard cloth seating surfaces while SE models get V-Tex Leatherette and SEL models receive the full leather treatment with suede-like "Dinamica" inserts. And on the subject of seats, thanks to the Passat’s longer wheelbase, rear-seat passengers now enjoy more legroom than in any other current mid-size sedan.
The 2013 Volkswagen Passat may not be as distinctive-looking as the Passats that came before it, but its clean styling should serve it well over time. It is sleek and subtly angular in appearance, sporting a 3-bar horizontal grille and pronounced side crease lines that draw attention to the sedan’s increased length. This length also allows for a more sizable trunk – with 15.9 cubic feet of space, it’s a nearly a cubic foot larger than the trunk in the Honda Accord, which the EPA classifies as a large car.
The Volkswagen Passat sedan has grown substantially to appeal to North American sensibilities, but even though it’s now a larger, heavier car, you’ll still be rewarded with a refined road-going experience. Its suspension – including a 4-link independent rear setup – cancels out most road imperfections, and body roll is nicely controlled on tight, curvy roads. The base 2.5-liter 5-cylinder is the volume leader of the Passat’s engines and is a perfectly fine around-town commuter, but if you want more zip in your drive, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine is where you’ll get your smiles. Its minimal turbo lag and lusty low-end torque make a trip of any length a more pleasurable experience. The final feather in the VW Passat’s cap: Whether you choose the inline-5, the TDI or the V6, this German sedan is one quiet ride. That’s a good thing, because with segment-leading rear legroom, passengers sitting there won’t need to yell to be heard.
A base 2013 Volkswagen Passat S, with the 2.5-liter engine and manual transmission, starts at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $21,640. If you prefer an automatic, that means the Appearance Package (includes alloy wheels) for another $2,100. A full-boat SEL Premium package tops $31,000. The TDI turbodiesel Passat spans a range of $27,000 (SE) to $33,700 (SEL Premium). The 3.6-liter V6 engine (DSG automatic only) starts around $30,000 for an SE and climbs past $34,000 for an SEL Premium. The Passat competes in the crowded mid-size segment, which includes heavyweights like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, as well as value-oriented rides like the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. Check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what local transaction prices are running. In resale value, the Passat falls behind the Camry and Accord but bests the Optima and Sonata over time.
For just over $21,000, a 2013 Volkswagen Passat S sedan (inline 5-cylinder) comes equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, hill-hold control, cloth seating, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 3-year/36,000-mile maintenance program. Hoping for a USB port to plug your mobile device into? You’ll have to move up to the top SEL trim to get it.
With a lot of available options, packages and trim levels, it’s easy to equip a 2013 VW Passat the way you want. Noteworthy items include Vegan-friendly V-Tex Leatherette seating, a Fender Premium audio system, an iPod interface and the quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. For a little more oomph in your daily drive, a 3.6-liter V6 or the strong but frugal 2.0-liter 4-cylinder clean turbodiesel engine are also on the menu.
FENDER SOUND SYSTEMFender, the electric-guitar icon, is making its first foray into automotive audio. The Passat’s optional 9-speaker, 400-watt system developed with Panasonic provides clear, well balanced sound.TDIOffering up to 43 miles per gallon on the highway, this clean-burning diesel engine can return nearly 800 miles per tankful. Whether you can survive for that long without a rest-stop break is another matter.
Under the Hood
The 2013 VW Passat sedan offers three engine choices, which greatly affect the character of the car: a 2.5-liter inline-5 shared with the smaller Jetta, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 diesel (TDI), and a 3.6-liter V6. There are four transmissions available: a 5-speed manual (with the 2.5), a 6-speed manual (TDI), a 6-speed automatic (2.5) and the DSG 6-speed dual-clutch automatic (TDI and 3.6). If how much you spend at the pump is important to you, you’ll be interested to know that the TDI can return a class-leading 43 mpg on the highway when matched with the manual transmission. In order to get comparable fuel economy in any other sedan, you’d have to move down out of the mid-size segment.2.5-liter inline-5170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm177 lb-ft of torque @4,250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (manual), 22/31 mpg (automatic)3.6-liter V6280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic)
Last year, Volkswagen completely reinvented the Passat mid-size sedan, and aimed it straight at the heart of American shoppers. Bigger, conservatively styled, with lots of standard equipment and a lower price, the Passat retained its German driving feel even though VW now builds it in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For 2013, the Passat continues to deliver great value for money. It plays in the tough heart of the market, where the iconic Toyota Camry and Honda Accord set the beat and more edgy upstarts like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima play counterpoint. But the new VW Passat is carving out its niche as a comfortable, affordable 4-door with good space, lots of features, great road manners, and an honored spot on KBB’s list of the 10 Best Family Cars of 2013.