Residing in one of the fiercest automotive segments, the 2015 Volkswagen Passat stands apart from rival midsize sedans such as the Toyota Camry thanks to its refined European road manners and an available diesel engine that offers eye-popping fuel economy. This family sedan lags others in terms of the latest technology but remains one of the classiest in its segment.
You'll Like The 2015 Volkswagen Passat If...
If you want a classy-looking family vehicle that's roomy, made in America (Tennessee, to be precise) and handles like a proper European sedan, put the Passat on your radar. If you're seeking a diesel sedan rated up to 44 mpg, the Passat TDI is a pleaser.
You May Not Like The 2015 Volkswagen Passat If...
If you desire the latest safety technology like lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring or a slick infotainment system, look past the Passat. From a styling perspective, the Passat's lines might be too conservative for buyers seeking more flash.
Updates for the 2015 VW Passat include a new diesel engine in TDI models that is rated up to 44 mpg, while a rearview camera is now available in S and Wolfsburg trims. SEL Premium trims gain rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The 2015 Passat's 5-passenger interior is roomy for sure (see above), but is otherwise tastefully understated. Base versions of VW's midsize sedan are rather plain with cloth seats and – gasp! – an audio system that doesn't boast a touch screen. Both of those facets are rectified as one climbs trim levels. Midrange models receive Volkswagen's V-Tex faux-leather seating surfaces, while high-end trims get the real thing along with wood-grain trim. At nearly 15.9 cubic feet the Passat's trunk space is copious, and 60/40-split folding rear seats add to this sedan's versatility.
This newest-generation Passat bucks the flavor-of-the-month style contest that's going on in much of the midsize-sedan segment. VW's largest sedan instead plays it conservative but classy with a sleek and subtly angular appearance. Its prominent, 3-bar horizontally slatted grille makes the Passat look like a more expensive car from the front. Wheel sizes vary from 16 to 19 inches, with variants such as the Luxor alloys on the Sport Edition adding visual pop.
Some midsize family sedans strive to be sporty while others go for comfort. As with premium German-engineered cars costing thousands more, the VW Passat deftly splits the difference. On the highway it's smooth, solid and quiet. Point it in the direction of a twisty road, and you'll find a surprisingly entertaining driver. The latter is especially true when the Passat is paired with its new base engine, a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that replaces the old 2.5-liter 5-cylinder. Despite its small size, this engine has enough oomph to capably power the Passat. There is a bit of turbo lag, but putting the car in Sport mode helps alleviate the initial hesitation. Drivers seeking the most potency can step up to the Passat V6, which boasts 280 horsepower. Yet our pick for the Passat remains the TDI diesel, which offers loads of power and excellent efficiency (see below).
A base 2015 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T with a manual transmission has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $22,000. Adding an automatic transmission, as most buyers will, lifts that price to just over $23,000. The nicely equipped, high-mileage VW Passat TDI diesel begins at $27,645 with manual transmission, while the Passat V6 starts around $30,500. Load up a V6 model in SEL Premium trim, and the Passat's price can pass $36,000. At these prices, the Passat is in line with the majority of other midsize sedans, though its base price slightly undercuts rivals. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new VW Passat. In terms of resale value, the Passat lags most competitors, though the TDI version fares better, as diesels often do.
If you go the least expensive route on your new Passat sedan, spending just under $22,000 for a base model, you'll get the basics like air conditioning, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary input (but no USB port), 6-way manual adjust front seats and 5-speed manual transmission, plus Bluetooth wireless connectivity with audio streaming, and automatic on/off headlights. All new 2015 Passats also come with one year or 10,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance.
Except for a 6-speed automatic transmission on lower models, major options are bundled on the Passat and are gained by climbing trims. A Wolfsburg Edition, for instance, adds a power driver's seat, VW's subscription-based Car-Net system that pairs with your iPhone or Android device to relay vehicle information, and an iPod connector. SE trims bring the V-Tex Leatherette seating surfaces, touch-screen audio interface, rearview camera, rear-seat air vents and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Top-line SEL models have navigation, a Fender premium audio system, wood-grain interior trim and automatic climate control.
PASSAT TDI DIESEL
If you still equate the word "diesel" with those slow, sooty, puttering vehicles of decades past, it's time for a mental update. Modern turbodiesels like the 2015 VW Passat TDI are quick, have loads of torque and return eye-popping fuel economy. We've cracked 50 mpg in our long-term test Passat.
You don't have to be an NBA player to appreciate the Passat's rear seat, but if you are this is the midsize sedan for you. Technically there are 39.1 inches of legroom back there, but beyond the numbers it feels like there's even more. So go ahead, give that athlete a lift.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available for the 2015 Passat. Base models use a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, while top-line variants employ a powerful V6. With an EPA rating of up to 36 mpg and the ability to run on regular unleaded, the turbocharged-4 is a tempting option. But the real star is the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel. Now attaining up to 44 mpg in a manual-transmission model (42 in an automatic), this engine is efficient yet powerful. Diesel Passats do require a liquid additive called AdBlue that reduces harmful emissions. While VW recommends its dealers do the refills, owners can also perform the procedure. If you're wondering if diesel fuel is hard to find, know that it's available at roughly half of all gas stations.
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
170 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 mpg (manual), 24/36 mpg (automatic)
280 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
150 horsepower @ 3,500 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/44 mpg (manual), 30/42 mpg (automatic)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that this vehicle's diesel engine is involved in a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act issued by the EPA to Volkswagen for producing and selling 4-cylinder diesel cars that include a software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that these diesel cars emit up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. Recalls, investigations and litigation are currently ongoing.
The 2015 Volkswagen Passat resides in one of the fiercest automotive segments – that of the midsize family sedan. Here heavyweights such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion battle for king-of-the-hill status. And each year the stakes are raised as new sedans increase in sophistication. While rivals have brought hybrid powertrains, premium amenities and ever-more transmission speeds to the table, the Passat has a few aces up its own sleeve. The 2015 Passat remains the only sedan in its segment to offer a high-mileage diesel engine, boasts limousine-like rear-seat legroom, and has handling manners that are proudly German. The Passat lacks the latest tech features, but its positive attributes and European design help it remain a contender.