Volkswagen's midsized sedan was optimized for the American market with the 2012 redesign; that is to say, it grew larger than most competitors, lost some of that crisp European driving feel, and became less expensive.
Since then, continual changes have tweaked and honed the Passat. The smooth and responsive 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that we tested provides readily available power and achieves 28 mpg overall -- very commendable for such a large sedan. It has been replaced by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for 2018. The six-speed automatic transmission works well enough, but isn't quite as refined as the better ones in this category. Buyers willing to sacrifice fuel economy for speed can go for the 3.6-liter V6; acceleration is swift and it returned 23 mpg in our tests.
On the road, the Passat feels solid and satisfying, with fairly agile handling, a comfortable ride, and a very quiet cabin. Inside, drivers will find oodles of space, simple controls, good outward visibility, and a comfortable driving position. But the fit and finish isn't that impressive, and the car is a bit stingy with standard features. The seats are large and supportive, even over the long haul, but some staffers found them to be too hard. Rear-seat and trunk room are supremely generous, equaling some large sedans. And the Passat's upright stance provides easy cabin access and a good view out.