Lyons on Wheels
2021 Volkswagen Passat
MSRP: $23,995 (S) As Tested: $27,990 (2.0T SE)
Sponsored By: Colonial Car Wash
VW streamlined the Passat line for 2021. SEL – the former, top rung on the trim ladder – has been removed, leaving the R-Line, SE and S levels from top to bottom. All models add adaptive cruise control to their standard equipment roster for ’21, and steering wheel, gearshift knob and brake handle are now leather wrapped. SE level cars also pick up a moon roof, 18″ alloy wheels, and enhanced scratch protection for bumpers. Finally in the “what’s new” category, the now top-line R-Line gets adaptive front lighting, a larger touchscreen display, and the Fender Premium audio system (400 watts, eight speakers and a subwoofer). Passat’s MSRP range is $23,995 (S), $26,995 (SE), and R-Line ($29,995). All models are front-wheel drive.
Passat is a family sedan with a twist of German engineering. On the inside, this translates into a quiet, spacious cabin, with good fit and finish. The VW measures among the best in its class with respect to passenger space. There’s room for six footers in both rows, and it’s easy to enter and exit. Driver visibility is good in all directions, and standard blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert has your back. The infotainment system in all Passat’s is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. S and SE cars have a 6.3″ touchscreen. R-Line models get an 8″ screen, and it’s accompanied by an onboard navigation system. The trunk is good sized (16 cu.-ft.), well shaped, and the rear seatbacks fold mostly flat, to accommodate longer items. Passat was introduced in 2012, and it’s interior has a function first design, emphasizing room and comfort. Some of its competition (the midsize sedan class includes Accord, Camry, Sonata, Altima, K5 and Mazda6, among others) are younger in their design cycle, with fresher technology, and some place more of an accent on interior style. Here as in most things, everybody’s different. As you test drive models, take a good look at the cabins you’re sitting in, and you’ll figure out what best fits your needs.
While VW has a number of sporty cars in it’s stable, Passat has a more mainstream mission. The sole engine and transmission package bundles a 2.0L, turbocharged four cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0L makes 174 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm, and 206 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,000 rpm. The engine provides acceptable acceleration, and returns very solid fuel economy (EPA estimates 31/41/35, and I logged 33). In keeping with its family car vibe, ride quality is long trip worthy. Even though it’s not trying to be sporty, the car’s bones make Passat a confident handler. However, the steering is tuned with an eye towards ease of use, rather than corner carving. Road feel through the wheel is limited, but it’s properly boosted to allow Passat to maneuver easily in tight quarters.
|A 40 year resident of the Capital District, Dan Lyons is the author of six automotive books, and photographer of more than 200 calendars.|