We know that mid-size sedans like the Volkswagen Passat are no longer the vehicle of choice for families as they once were, the latter overwhelmingly preferring SUVs today. Some have been eliminated or are in the process of being eliminated, while others are hanging on by finding different ways to reinvent themselves.
For the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima, for example, it involves the addition of an all-wheel drive. The same goes for the all-new Kia K5, which also relies on a striking design.
In the case of the Volkswagen Passat, the conservative approach and streamlining of the lineup at the moment leads us to believe that the German automaker has thrown the towel in some way.
For 2020, the Passat benefits from a renewed design, but the changes are very subtle and the silhouette remains very straight in the pure tradition of Volkswagen. Among other things, we notice the features of the Jetta and the Arteon, more modern headlights and taillights as well as a more imposing grille. It’s elegant, but nothing to get excited about.
In truth, the only way to energize the look of the Passat is to opt for the top-of-the-range Execline version, which offers the choice of a Aurora Red bodywork as well as an R-Line package including 19-inch wheels. alone are almost worth the extra $ 1,315. A few badges and black trim at the bottom of the front bumper, around the side windows and on the mini spoiler add another little touch. Notice, however, the fake rear diffuser and fake quadruple tailpipes (there is actually only one and it’s hidden underneath).
Not so inviting
The cabin of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat is a little more polished and attractive than in the past. We especially appreciate the redesigned design of the dashboard, especially the horizontal air vents that seem to stretch from the central block to the right end to create a unity effect.
There is also this new eight-inch touchscreen which marks a nice improvement, it which incorporates the latest infotainment and connectivity technologies. However, its characters are small and its still low position makes it difficult to read while driving. Also, having your hands at 9 a.m. and 3 a.m. on the steering wheel, part of the screen is obstructed.
Space is certainly a strength of the Passat, especially for the legs and shoulders in both rows, not to mention in the trunk (450 liters). The front seats are comfortable at first glance, but too tight at the top, which becomes a strain on the upper back over long distances. The rear seat, in our opinion, is too firm for a high-end mid-size sedan.
Overall, the 2020 Passat doesn’t have as much cachet and doesn’t feel as modern as its Asian rivals. Some controls are a bit old-fashioned, while the faux woodwork on the dashboard doesn’t quite succeed in creating the desired luxury effect.
One mechanical choice
Gone are the days when Volkswagen offered a 280 horsepower V6 and optional all-wheel drive with the Passat (as well as a diesel engine, but that’s easier to understand…). The only engine left now is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 174 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque, up 22 from the previous year.
The power is all in all sufficient for most situations, but the six-speed automatic transmission is more or less well adapted, which sometimes gives jerky acceleration, especially in the first reports. The available Sport mode improves things a bit. Its other problem is gas mileage, which ranks among the best in the class – 8.7 L / 100 km on average and 9.0 L / 100 km in the case of our test model.
On the road, the 2020 Passat offers good driving pleasure overall. Admittedly, it is not assembled on the modular architecture MQB of Volkswagen; rather the PQ46 platform designed exclusively for the North American version. The steering is straightforward – even better than that of several competitors – and the braking is effective.
On the other hand, the ride becomes dry on damaged pavements due to the optional low-profile tires of the R-Line package, while the lane-keeping system is so sensitive that it sometimes kicks in. in the steering wheel for no apparent reason. By the way, there is no shortage of state-of-the-art safety features, but the same can be said of all the competition.
In the end, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat (starting at $ 27,145) doesn’t have anything really extraordinary that could make it stand out. It is very difficult to recommend it to you instead of its many adversaries – Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the lead – unless of course you are diehard of the German brand.
In short, the time has come to move on. It is rumored that a new generation based on an improved MQB platform will come in 2023-2024 and that it will be the same everywhere around the globe. By then, however, Volkswagen’s electrification offensive will already be well underway and we would rather see a 100% electric sedan derived from the ID concept. VIZZION than another uninspiring Passat.