2015 Volkswagen Passat Review


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2015 Volkswagen Passat Overview

It’s now 5 model years since Volkswagen’s midsize sedan arrived in its current form, but the 2015 Passat sees only an engine update and some minor feature shuffles. That kind of change usually means there’s a major update coming up, and there are a few spy shots and scheduled auto-show appearances to support just such an idea, but Volkswagen hasn’t released anything about what might change yet. The next-generation Passat isn’t even officially slated for 2016, but current drivers are in no hurry for any major change.

The composed and stately made-in-Tennessee Passat boasts Americanized elbow room and storage, satisfying power and excellent fuel economy. Some drivers take issue with its lack of USB connectivity anywhere in the lineup (it's offered only with an available Apple-specific hookup or Bluetooth streaming otherwise), while others wonder how attentively the factory put together their particular Passat, given a few squeaks and rattles or excessive wind noise in a few random samples, but this generation is otherwise pretty well complaint-free.

Unless you count the drivers who don’t believe in letting the engine warm up and thus complain about waiting 20 seconds for the available rear-view camera monitor to cue up. Rest assured, if you allow the engine to settle in at 1,000 rpm before putting it in gear—as is best for any car—the rear-view monitor is instantly available after putting it in reverse. And for 2015, that rear-view camera is now available in the Technology package for all trims, from the base S right on up to the Wolfsburg Edition.

That Technology package also now adds 2 speakers for a total of 8 to its touchscreen audio system plus satellite radio in all equipped trims except for the Wolfsburg, which already includes satellite connectivity standard. The SE with Sunroof is now the SE Convenience, minus a sunroof, but the SE with Sunroof + Navigation gains chrome trim, sport seats and fog lights. Last but not least of the equipment shuffle, the SEL Premium adds rain-sensing wipers to its list.

As for that engine update, diesel lovers will appreciate a TDI that is 10 horses more powerful this year for a total of 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque—and a couple miles better on the gallon. That means the same 30 mpg city with the 6-speed manual and 31 city with the 6-speed automated manual (DSG), but they’re each at least 1 mpg better on the highway for 30 city mpg/44 highway with the manual or 31/42 with the DSG. But that’s just the estimate—drivers regularly report far better real-world economy. And why not? The TDI boasts the lineup’s beefiest 4-cylinder turbo and Volkswagen gets plenty of practice with diesel powertrains over the pond, especially turbodiesels. The TDI powertrain is arguably V-Dub’s masterwork.

All that said, the 2015 Passat is otherwise just the same as the 2014 Passat. That means the base S, mid-level SE, and top-shelf Wolfsburg should still offer both the outgoing 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder (I5) good for 170 hp and 177 lb-ft/torque or the incoming 1.8-liter turbocharged I4, pushing out 170 hp and 184 lb-ft/torque. The naturally aspirated 2.5 is not only a bit less powerful, it’s also less fuel efficient, estimated at about 22/31 regardless of transmission. The 1.8T on the other hand fetches a very competitive 24/35, and it’s a little more than a second quicker to 60 mph than the 2.5, arriving in 7.7 seconds to the benchmark. Stepping up from the SE to the SEL or Sport is the only sure-fire way to get that 1.8T, but it is expected to be the default engine in short order.

SE, Sport and SEL buyers desiring a good bit more gusto without the diesel have the option of a 3.6-liter V6 putting out 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque with a 6.4-second arrival at 60 mph, but it chews through gas like any other V6, with estimates sitting at 20/28 with its obligatory DSG.


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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