2021 Volkswagen Passat vs 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2021 Volkswagen Passat
2021 Volkswagen Passat
$23,995MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
$29,880MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volkswagen Passat
$23,995MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
$29,880MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Volkswagen Passat is 6.5 out of 10, while the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI scores 8.0 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the clear winner, offering superior performance, advanced technology, and a more engaging driving experience. If you're looking for a car that combines practicality with excitement, the Golf GTI is the better choice.

Overview

MSRP

$23,995

MSRP

$29,880

Average price

$19,298

Average price

$29,165

Listings

431

Listings

105
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

6.5 out of 10

Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10
Pros
  • Great ride quality
  • Spacious
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Uninspired styling
  • Outdated technology
  • Uncomfortable seats
Pros
  • Powerful engine
  • Manual transmission available
  • Great handling
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Unintuitive technology
  • Prices rise quickly

2021 Volkswagen Passat Reviews Summary

Despite its German branding, the 2021 Volkswagen Passat is an All-American midsize sedan. It was developed specifically for the United States market, and it’s built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In 2011, when the Americanized Passat was launched, VW thought the sedan was the key to dominating the U.S. market. Midsize sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry were still the default choice for most buyers at that time, after all. A lot has changed since then—SUVs are surging in popularity, and a diesel-emissions scandal has forced VW to focus more on electric cars—but the Passat rolls on. With the flashier Arteon now in the lineup, however, the Passat has been repositioned as VW's value-focused midsize sedan.

The Passat got a significant update for the 2020 model year, so changes for 2021 are fairly limited. The previously-available Passat SEL trim level is gone, leaving just the base S, SE, and R-Line models. Adaptive cruise control is now standard across the board, and some trim levels get more standard equipment as well. Our test car was a mid-level SE model.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Reviews Summary

With its updated engine, revised suspension, and tech-forward interior, the latest iteration of Volkswagen’s legendary GTI looks ready to do battle with the Hyundai Veloster N as well as the upcoming Honda Civic Si and Subaru WRX. With regards to performance, the new GTI leaves almost nothing to be desired.
No video found
Popular Features & Specs

Engine

2.0L 174 hp I4

Engine

2.0L 241 hp I4

Drive Train

FWD

Drive Train

FWD

Seating Capacity

5

Seating Capacity

5

Horsepower

174 hp @ 5200 rpm

Horsepower

241 hp @ 5000 rpm

MPG City

24

MPG City

25

MPG Highway

36

MPG Highway

34
2021 Volkswagen Passat
2021 Volkswagen Passat
$23,995MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
$29,880MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volkswagen Passat
$23,995MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
$29,880MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Volkswagen Passat is 6.5 out of 10, while the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI scores 8.0 out of 10. Based on these ratings, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the clear winner, offering superior performance, advanced technology, and a more engaging driving experience. If you're looking for a car that combines practicality with excitement, the Golf GTI is the better choice.

Overview
MSRP
$23,995
$29,880
Average price
$19,298
$29,165
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.5
4.8
Expert reviews

6.5 out of 10

Read full review

8.0 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Great ride quality
  • Spacious
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Uninspired styling
  • Outdated technology
  • Uncomfortable seats
Pros
  • Powerful engine
  • Manual transmission available
  • Great handling
Cons
  • Potentially polarizing design
  • Unintuitive technology
  • Prices rise quickly
Summary

Despite its German branding, the 2021 Volkswagen Passat is an All-American midsize sedan. It was developed specifically for the United States market, and it’s built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In 2011, when the Americanized Passat was launched, VW thought the sedan was the key to dominating the U.S. market. Midsize sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry were still the default choice for most buyers at that time, after all. A lot has changed since then—SUVs are surging in popularity, and a diesel-emissions scandal has forced VW to focus more on electric cars—but the Passat rolls on. With the flashier Arteon now in the lineup, however, the Passat has been repositioned as VW's value-focused midsize sedan.

The Passat got a significant update for the 2020 model year, so changes for 2021 are fairly limited. The previously-available Passat SEL trim level is gone, leaving just the base S, SE, and R-Line models. Adaptive cruise control is now standard across the board, and some trim levels get more standard equipment as well. Our test car was a mid-level SE model.

With its updated engine, revised suspension, and tech-forward interior, the latest iteration of Volkswagen’s legendary GTI looks ready to do battle with the Hyundai Veloster N as well as the upcoming Honda Civic Si and Subaru WRX. With regards to performance, the new GTI leaves almost nothing to be desired.
Video
No video found
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.0L 174 hp I4
2.0L 241 hp I4
Drive Train
FWD
FWD
Seating Capacity
5
5
Horsepower
174 hp @ 5200 rpm
241 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG City
24
25
MPG Highway
36
34
Look and feel
2021 Volkswagen Passat
7/10
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
7/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat retained its exterior styling from the 2020 facelift, which was the first major update in nearly a decade. This facelift gave the Passat a strong familial resemblance to the smaller Volkswagen Jetta sedan, resulting in a more understated look compared to rivals like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia K5, and Toyota Camry. The Passat's aerodynamic design, with a drag coefficient of 0.28, aimed to improve fuel efficiency, although the impact was minimal. Standard features included LED headlights and taillights, with wheel sizes ranging from 17 to 19 inches depending on the trim. The R-Line trim added sportier exterior elements but lacked vibrant color options. Inside, the Passat's design was clean and functional, with well-placed analog controls enhancing usability. The dashboard's low profile improved forward visibility, while a low beltline provided good side visibility. However, the flat-bottomed steering wheel seemed out of place in this non-sporty sedan. The interior materials were mostly plastic, with cloth upholstery on S models and V-Tex leatherette on SE and R-Line trims. Despite the plain design, the fit and finish were excellent, aligning with the Passat's value-oriented market positioning. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI, although featuring all-new body panels, maintained a familiar look to its predecessor. The new GTI was longer and lower, with a wheelbase of 103.6 inches, promising stability and nimbleness. The front end showcased a subtle honeycomb-patterned air intake and a signature red accent line between the LED headlights, with an optional light bar for added drama. Aerodynamic enhancements included redesigned side-view mirrors and underbody paneling. The GTI came with red brake calipers and wheel sizes varying by trim, with 18-inch wheels on S and SE trims and 19-inch wheels on the Autobahn trim. Inside, the GTI featured plaid cloth seats on S and SE trims, with Vienna leather available on SE and standard on Autobahn. The classic golf-ball shifter knob was retained for manual transmission models, and all trims had stainless steel pedals. The GTI's interior was driver-centric, with a center stack angled towards the driver and a unique "light and sight" panel for adjusting headlights and defogging settings. Rear legroom was surprisingly generous, making the GTI suitable for family use.
Performance
2021 Volkswagen Passat
6/10
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
10/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 174 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. This engine was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. While the torque output was impressive, the horsepower was below average compared to rivals. The Passat's power delivery felt uneven at higher speeds, but switching to Sport mode or manually selecting gears improved responsiveness. The driving experience was unremarkable, lacking the sportiness or comfort found in competitors like the Honda Accord and Mazda 6. The Passat's ride quality and cabin noise levels were adequate but not exceptional. In contrast, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, delivering 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. This engine, an updated version of the EA888, reached peak horsepower at 5,000 rpm and maintained a high torque peak from 1,750 rpm. The GTI offered a choice between a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG) with paddle shifters. Front-wheel drive was standard, with no all-wheel-drive option. The GTI's fuel economy was estimated at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, and 28 combined with the manual transmission, slightly better with the automatic. The GTI's performance was enhanced by a retuned suspension, with a lighter front assembly and stiffer rear springs. Various drive modes allowed customization for Eco, Comfort, or Sport settings. The electronic torque-sensing limited-slip differential and electronic stability control improved handling, reducing understeer and enhancing cornering capabilities. The top-tier Autobahn trim featured the DCC adaptive damping system, capable of 200 adjustments per second, further improving ride quality and handling.
Form and function
2021 Volkswagen Passat
6/10
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
9/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat offered 39.1 inches of rear legroom, slightly less than competitors like the Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy. However, this came at the expense of front legroom, which was below average for the segment. The front seats lacked thigh support, and the rear seats felt flat and hard. The Passat provided 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space, more than some rivals but less than the Accord and Hyundai Sonata. In-cabin storage was limited, with improperly shaped door bottle holders and a small cubby for smartphones. The layout of controls was a strong point, with big buttons and knobs within easy reach and an easy-to-read instrument cluster. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI excelled in practicality with 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, expandable to 34.5 cubic feet with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The GTI's interior was driver-centric, with a center stack angled towards the driver and a unique "light and sight" panel for adjusting headlights and defogging settings. Rear legroom was generous, making the GTI suitable for family use. The GTI's interior design balanced performance and practicality, providing ample space for daily needs.
Technology
2021 Volkswagen Passat
6/10
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
7/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat came with the MIB2 infotainment system, featuring a 6.3-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The R-Line trim added HD Radio, built-in navigation, and an eight-speaker Fender premium audio system. Keyless entry was standard on SE and R-Line trims. A single USB-A port handled connectivity, with two additional rear charge-only USB-A ports on SE models. The touchscreen was small by modern standards but included pinch-to-zoom capability. The Passat lacked advanced tech features like the Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and the newer MIB3 infotainment system, focusing on simplicity and ease of use. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI featured a fully digital driver information display, spanning 10.25 inches and standard on all trims. The infotainment system included an 8.25-inch touchscreen on the S trim and a 10-inch display with navigation on SE and Autobahn trims. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity were standard, with a 9-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system on SE and Autobahn trims. The touch-capacitive volume and climate controls below the touchscreen were less user-friendly. Volkswagen's Car-Net system offered various features, some at additional costs, including Remote Access, Safe and Secure, and Hotspot. Optional features like Plus Nav, Plus Speech, and Plus Online Radio were available at low annual fees.
Safety
2021 Volkswagen Passat
7/10
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI
7/10
The 2021 Volkswagen Passat received top "good" scores in all crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but its standard headlights earned a "marginal" rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had not published crash-test ratings for the 2021 Passat. Standard safety features included adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams. The Passat also featured VW's Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and Intelligent Crash Response System. The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI came equipped with Volkswagen's IQ.Drive, offering advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like Travel Assist, which combined adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist for semi-autonomous driving. Other features included forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert. However, IQ.Drive was only available on automatic GTIs. Park Distance Control was standard on all trims, with the Autobahn trim adding Park Assist for automatic parking. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS had crash-tested the 2022 GTI at the time of writing.
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