Although refreshed for the 2020 model year, the Volkswagen Passat still seems the same as it ever was. And technically, it is. The new Passat has a new look and some new features, but it still rides on the same platform that it has been for almost the past decade. Considering they didn’t update the whole car, is the Passat now just an overgrown Jetta?
We’ll start with what the Volkswagen did update on the Passat. All of the exterior panels, aside from the roof and A-pillars, were changed. It was given new front and rear fascias, which create a bold, yet sophisticated look, and the deep crease on the side panels give the car’s profile some character. However, we still can’t help but think that it just looks like a bigger Jetta.
OK, let’s check the interior. It does look newer than the outgoing model. In fact, Volkswagen went with a more “horizontal” and “contemporary” look with the dashboard to give the Passat a more upscale feel. It’s too bad they went with a lot of hard plastics and fake wood trim, though. But at a glance, it looks good.
The interior room is the same as the 2019 model as the Passat still offers a ton of room for the first and second rows. Cloth seats are standard, but opting for higher trim levels unlocks V-Tex leatherette and full leather seats.
Fortunately, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard and are controlled via a 6.3-inch touchscreen, which is the same no matter which trim level you choose. However, if you opt for the top-level SEL trim, then you’ll get a Premium Fender Audio system that pumps out 400 watts through eight speakers.
Frontal collision warning and the autonomous emergency braking are standard. However, the Passat is available with a host of driver assists like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, parking sensors, and Park Assist, which aids in parallel parking situations.
Same engine, worse fuel economy
The 2020 Volkswagen Passat is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 174 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, which is 22 more lb-ft than the 2.0-liter mill found in the 2019 Passat. It’s basically the same engine, but for some reason, it gets worse fuel economy than the previous iteration. The 2020 model is rated at 23 city/34 highway while the 2019 models get 25 city/36 highway. That’s odd.
Why are we pointing all of this stuff out?
The 2020 Passat may have been changed for the new model year and it does carry some tech updates, however, it seems as though Volkswagen didn’t care to spend that much time on it. Mid-size rivals offer more tech-savvy features, better engine choices, better fuel economy, and more updated styling for around the same price.
On top of that, the new 2020 Volkswagen Jetta offers basically the same as everything listed above on the Passat, but it has better features like the Digital Cockpit and it gets better fuel economy.
If we had to guess, we think that Volkswagen decided to spend less time, money, and effort on this Passat to focus more on their SUVs like the Atlas and Cross Sport.
That makes sense, considering Americans like SUVs more than sedans, however, why go through the trouble of refreshing the car in the first place? In this case, we wouldn’t recommend the Passat over any of its rivals, and if you don’t like any of those, just get a Jetta.