2013 Volkswagen Passat Review


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2013 Volkswagen Passat Overview

Fresh off a big move and redesign for 2012, the Volkswagen Passat is unpacking its complaint baggage and making a few small improvements for the 2013 edition of this midsize 5-seat sedan. Hopefully those improvements will also include eliminating the new Tennessee plant's tendency for duds, or so-called "Friday cars," because we would all hate to see a replay of Pennsylvania after all of the company's work to rebuild its reputation and ultimately closing down that plant in 1989, after 10 years of too much poor workmanship. Unfortunately, the deluge of driver reviews tell a story with far too much déjà vu, and a few too many other choice French words, for the American-made Passat to pass for usually impeccable German engineering.

Don't get me wrong: Plenty of drivers are exceptionally pleased with this custom-for-America Passat generation, excepting some quirks that are being addressed for 2013, and even a few of the very things we Americans apparently told VW we wanted, like front-wheel drive, struts for the front suspension and more floaty American driving dynamics. However, there are certain other manufacturing issues, from electrical glitches to poor latch alignment, that also beg to be addressed. These manufacturing inconsistencies are at least consistent, paving the way for quick isolation of the issues, and if Volkswagen is just as quick to address these as it did the feature flaws, then it can be only smooth sailing from here on out. We can hope, at least, since a few-thousand-dollar discount alongside a few hundred jobs would be terrible things to waste.

That aside, the standing desires going into 2013 were for xenon headlights, rear AC vents and a better ability to see your rear. The Passat is still the only reindeer left out on those headlights, but SE and SEL models get blessed air for the vast rear seating, and SEL buyers can opt for a rear-view camera, alongside the usual parking sensors available to all as a dealer accessory. Some drivers also criticize the hump in the middle of the rear seating, which for some is actually a boon, while others say 15.9 cubic feet of trunk even with a 60/40 split seat is too small. Sorry, you're just not going to find a wagon inside a midsize sedan—they might make magic at Volkswagen, but they're not that good!

On the upside, Europeans finally get to be the ones that look on while we get all the neat new goodies, although they do get 7 engine options. Perhaps 3 is enough for us, yes? The 170-hp 5-cylinder 2.5-liter engine and either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic are available for all 4 trims, ranging from the base S on through the midrange SE and SEL with an SEL Premium topping the cake. The 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine and TDI-denoted 140-hp 2-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel are available only to SE and SEL Premium buyers. The TDI can also get the 6-speed manual, but the other tranny choice for this engine is a 6-speed automated manual, which is the only transmission for the V6.

Small as those figures may seem, drivers insist the TDI especially is an exceptionally sporting engine that provides plenty of fun, despite the lack of sporting driving dynamics in this Passat. Capable of 31 mpg city/43 highway in the SE, drivers simply cannot believe what this diesel does off the line. Torque matters, to put it simply, and this is where the TDI shines, but that's not meant to diminish the able power from the 5-cylinder or V6 at all. For all intents and purposes, these other engines really differ only in fuel economy; the V6 fetches an expected 20/28, with the 5-cylinder slightly better at 22/31. No matter the engine, nobody complains about a lack of power—or acceleration for that matter—as the transmissions are also impressive in their own right. That said, the quickest to 60 mph is the V6 with a 6.4-second time. The TDI and 5-cylinder clock in around 9 seconds, which isn't too shabby either.


Your prototypical "Tom Girl" Patricia got her start digging into Ford engines before she aged into double digits. Gifted with a mechanical mind, her favorite pass-time in the summer is picking up a fixer-up'r at the local public auction and massaging its every ailment until it's primed for a new lover. From dirt bikes to land yachts, every partner offers something truly special in her love affair with the road - just don't tell her husband.

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2013 Volkswagen Passat Top Comparisons

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    Volkswagen Passat Questions



    How do I play the radio without the car running

    5 views with 2 answers (last answer 4 days ago)

    Vw Passat 2013 Engine Turns But Will Not Start

    engine turns but will not start I brought it to VW 2 months ago and they found nothing. Now it has happened again. See/listen to 10 second video. See https://www.youtube.com/edit? o=U&feature=vm&video...

    18 views with 1 answer (last answer about a month ago)

    I Have A 2013 Passat. It Seems To Be Running Harder Than Normal. 40 Mph Can...

    Something doesn't feel right, but I don't know if I should even drive it to work tomorrow. It has 47,000 miles and just had the oil changed by volkswagon dealership in the past two months.

    17 views with 2 answers (last answer 3 months ago)
    Jim Deaver

    Door Locks

    I cannot lock my car doors unless I use my key fob. Is there any way around this?

    3 views with 1 answer (last answer 5 months ago)

    Valet K Ey

    I lost my valet key. So if I turn on the valet button in the glove compartment by mistake can I just push button to turn it off or do I need the valet key

    20 views with 2 answers (last answer 8 months ago)