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Everyone has different wants and needs when searching for a new car. However, one common theme all buyers think about is safety. The 2020 Volkswagen Passat may be on many shoppers lists due to its sophisticated design and affordable price. Volkswagen has a massive presence in the automotive world and is popular with consumers, so it may be surprising to learn that not all its models are up to snuff. With so many strong entries in the midsize sedan class, the 2020 Passat fails to keep up in many categories. But how does it fare when it comes to safety?

The Passat may appear desirable to some drivers, especially with its $22,995 starting MSRP. While it might fit within your budget, it may not include all your criteria for the perfect sedan. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the 2020 Volkswagen Passat’s safety features and how well it performed in crash tests. From there, you’ll know if this is the right car for you or if you should look toward safer alternatives.

How safe is the 2020 Volkswagen Passat?

A grey 2020 Volkswagen driving down a highway road
The 2020 VW Passat in action | Photo via Volkswagen

The easiest way to protect yourself when behind the wheel of a car is to avoid danger from the get-go. Today’s vehicles help do this by utilizing driver-assistance technologies that sense potential collisions and attempt to alert you in time to take action.

Volkswagen outfitted the 2020 Passat with many of these safety features as standard equipment. For instance, its rear cross-traffic alert system monitors the area behind the car when backing up, and it alerts you with an audible sound if another vehicle, pedestrian, or object is in your path. Other standard technologies include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and pedestrian detection.

Shoppers looking for the safest possible Passat should choose the top-of-the-line SEL trim. This model includes adaptive headlights, a parallel park assistance system, and front/rear parking sensors.

Safety experts have concerns with VW’s midsize sedan

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat does an excellent job helping you avoid an accident, but how does it perform when one actually occurs? We look to the industry experts for the answer to this question.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Passat strong marks in its crashworthiness tests. However, it docked the 2020 Passat with a “marginal” rating for its headlights for the majority of its trim levels. The only headlights to earn a “good” rating were the adaptive headlights on the SEL model. Notably, the VW Passat just squeaked by with an “acceptable” rating in driver and passenger restraints.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not fully evaluate the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. However, it did conduct a rollover test, awarding the Passat a score of four stars out of five.

Additionally, drivers should be aware Volkswagen recalled some 2020 Passats due to problems with the car’s airbags.

What are safer alternatives to the Passat?


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The 2020 Volkswagen Passat isn’t an unsafe car, but there are better options on the market. The underrated 2021 Nissan Altima is a surprisingly safe midsize sedan that compares favorably to the Passat. However, if you’re looking for more driving thrills, you may be interested in the safe yet sporty 2020 Mazda6. Meanwhile, the often-forgotten Subaru Legacy is an intriguing option, as it comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system that provides extra traction on slippery roads.