2008 was the greatest year for the Volkswagen Passat B6 generation. It was the last year for two very important things in the Passat range, 1) the powerful and amazing 3.6 VR6 engine and 2) the amazing AWD system known as the 4 Motion. Two years later, the B6 was replaced with the North American specific new midsize sedan, also known as the Passat (For the 1st time in Volkswagen’s history, they have sold two sedans with the same name, even though they do not share any a single component with one another). Oh yeah, one more thing, the wagon body style also died with the American specific sedan. So, the time has arrived to see how the Passat stands out compared to its rivals in the midsize family sedan/wagon segment in the U.S.
The moment you open the door, you have to make your sure you are actually sitting in a Volkswagen. The leather seats in the top trim VR6 is so comfortable and upscale, it could almost pass of as an interior in an Audi branded model. In 2008, the VR6 version of the Passat (both sedan and wagon) came standard with sport seats in two colors, black and beige. Compared to the regular seats, these seats have additional bolsters to prevent the occupants from sliding side to side while going through corners. The seats also have this ribbed design that provides a lot of comfort for long range driving and the standard lumbar support helps the front two occupants stay comfortable and not suffer from back aches after a long journey. Overall, the seats in the Passat are a good blend between comfort and sport offering just the right amount of both categories without being too excessive of one trait or the other.
The view you get from behind the steering wheel is very convenient. In front of you, there is a black leather covered three spoke steering wheel all the essential buttons to control the volume, the various windows in the trip computer and blue tooth hands free telephone system. For drivers who want to have a little fun while travelling from one location to another, behind the steering wheel, there are two paddles which enables the driver to manually shift gears in the tip tronic mode of the transmission.
The center console and dashboard of the Passat is very well laid out. Behind the steering wheel, there are two big circular pods, one for the speedometer and the other for the tachometer. Between these two pods are another set of small pods which read out the fuel level and engine oil temperature. On top of these two small pods, there is a screen that shows the various functions of the trip computer like the amount of distance traveled, the average fuel consumption and other vital driving information.
The radio and/or navigation unit is placed in the center of the middle console and the dials are very well placed and can be easily accessed by both the driver and the front passenger. Beneath the navigation/radio unit are three dials that control the dual zone climate unit. The circumference of the dials are big enough and have groves so that people can easily operate them while wearing heavy gloves. Under the climatronic unit, there is a compartment to hold business cards and a cigarette lighter. The Passat also features a small storage space on the left side of the steering wheel so that the driver can keep his personal items like wallet and phones.
Inside the glove compartment, depending on the options chosen by the owner, there is a second compartment that has an i-pod adapter or a six disc CD changer. If the occupants do not want to utilize these two features to listen to their favorite tunes, there is an additional AUX input in the center storage compartment, which also plays the role of the center arm rest. The Passat, like all the late model cars, also offers Sirus/XM satellite radio for commercial free radio stations from around the world.
The standard engine in the VR6 is a narrow angle V6 engine that produces 280 horsepower and 265 lb.ft torque. The engine sends all of its power to the wheels via a six speed tip tronic transmission and Haldex 4 Motion all wheel drive system, which is similar to the Quattro system used by Audi. The combination of these three components leads to a very stable and secure ride regardless of the weather and road conditions outside.
Everything that goes must come to an eventual stop, and in order to accomplish this task, the Passat VR6 4 Motion comes standard with vented disc brakes on both the axles. On the front axle, the rotors are paired with six piston brake calipers and on the back axle, the rotors are paired with two piston fixed calipers. This brake setup enables the car to come to a complete stop without a lot of brake fade and gives the driver a lot of confidence while coming to a stop regardless of the road conditions.
The overall feel in the Passat is very safe and secure. The car always feels planted to the road and even at highway speeds, the car stays very stable and does not jump around, thus giving the driver and the occupants a very confident feeling while operating the vehicle.
Many people consider German engineering to be very safe based on their strong build quality and the Passat is not an exception. The Passat offers standard front, side curtain and front side airbags. For additional safety, the consumer could have also ordered their Passat with rear side airbags. The front end of the Passat is designed in a way that during the event of a front end collision, the entire front of the car crumples and absorbs all of the energy before it gets transmitted to the passenger cabin.
The doors of the Passat come with an integrated cross member so that during a side impact, the doors absorb the majority of the energy before it enter the cabin and hurts the occupants. Because the Passat was designed for the German Autobahn, the space between the b-pillars and the seats are twice as wide compared to the industry requirements thus reducing the amount of impact felt by the occupants within the vehicle.
Compared to other candidates in the midsize family sedan/wagon segment, the Passat has a higher entry level price point. But, considering the amount of standard and safety features, it is a bargain compared to other German midsize options from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The Passat VR6 4 Motion wagon reviewed here has a maximum suggested retail price of $40,600 with destination included.
Overall, the Passat is a much better alternative compared to the usual offerings like the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord. in 2008, the Passat was the only midsize vehicle available with all wheel drive and a premium interior with options that would be standard in a Audi. The ride in the Passat is very comfortable but also has the right amount of sportiness in it to keep the driver smiling while traveling between two places. The engine is very powerful and the fuel efficiency is about average but if driven carefully, has an estimated average of 400 miles. If someone wants to get into a good German engineered vehicle without shelling out a lot of money, the Volkswagen Passat should be near the top in their vehicle consideration list and it is a step above compared to all other cars offered in this segment.