Sedans & Coupes

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat Can’t Keep up With the Class

Volkswagen has updated its aging Passat for the 2020 model year though it’s still part of the fourth generation launched in 2012. In the mid-size sedan class with heavy hitters like Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia’s new K5, the new Passat would need a strong update to stay competitive.

The new 2020 Volkswagen Passat features some exterior and interior updates, new driver-assist features, new luxury features at higher trim levels, and a slightly more robust engine. Is it enough to keep up with the rest of the class?

The good

Whether you’re planning a road trip or just a few errands, the Passat is a comfortable ride, particularly in the back, according to Motor1. There’s plenty of room for occupants in the front and back with a lot of legroom. Space is a little tight for the driver with the center console, but the Passat wins for comfort and space. 

The doors are long, which makes entering and exiting the car easy. Just be careful in tight parking spaces. The seats are comfortable, supportive, and easy to adjust, which helps drivers of all sizes. The narrow roof pillars and big-enough windows make for good visibility.

The backseat will make any passengers happy with 39.1 inches of legroom, which beats out 38 inches for Toyota Camry and 34.8 inches in the Hyundai Sonata. There are two rear USB ports and air vents in the back seats and big door pockets to stash your stuff. There’s a lot of cargo space too where you can store several full-size suitcases. It’s 15.9 cubic feet of space may lose out to the Accord with 1.67 cubic feet, but it beats the Camry that only offers 15.1.

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat also gets a thumbs up for safety features. The base model offers blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning with auto energy braking and pedestrian detection. There are more safety features at higher trims like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and active parking assist, which automatically parallel parks the car.

The bad

While VW did rev up the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that it’s been running on for a while, the new Volkswagen Passat’s performance is still sluggish at best. The engine gets 174 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. 

Still, the long-standing engine is quiet and dependable. With the tweaks it received, according to Motor1, it provides adequate power even on the highway. However, the optional V6 engine that sounded good and put up a more athletic performance is no longer available. 

The new interior and exterior updates leave a lot to be desired. The overall effect is minimalist and clean, but nothing to write home about. It’s functional but not exciting. 

The competition

Sure there’s a sleek new look and more standard features for the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. But with no cutting-edge design, mediocre power, and a lack of the brand’s latest tech features, the Passat is merely affordable and serviceable. According to U.S. News, if you’re looking for a quality mid-size sedan, there might be better options for you.

If you’re a VW fan and can live without all the space the Passat offers, the Jetta might be the car you’re looking to buy. For starters, the Jetta has an excellent lineup of engine choices. It has an 8-inch touch screen, but there’s a 10.25-inch customizable digital cockpit available. With the Jetta’s SE trim, you get heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a lower price than the Passat’s base model.

The Nissan Altima might also be a better choice. While it doesn’t have the abundance of trunk space, the cabin is roomy, and the seats are among the best and most comfortable in the class. The Altima costs more than the Passat when it comes to base models, but you get better gas mileage and safety ratings. You also get a larger touch screen standard than with the Passat.

If space and comfort are essential to you, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat might be the right car for you. If you have a small family or ride-share at all, it’s affordable and competent.

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