Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 VW Passat R-Line: A Value-Packed Midsized Vehicle

Highlight: For the first quarter of the year, the VW Passat sales are up in the slumping midsize segment by a whopping 24 percent.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $24,795 (base model $23,240)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; Daytime Running Lights; automatic headlights; a rearview camera; a tire pressure monitoring system; and power adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals

Standard Equipment (S Model): 16-inch wheels; a 6-speed transmission; cloth seats; manual operated front seats; a manually adjustable tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a dual zone climate control system; and a 5-inch infotainment touch screen  

1.8T R-Line: 19-inch wheels; R-line exclusive bumpers, grille and rear diffuser; chrome exhaust tips; leather wrapped steering wheel; steering wheel mounted shift paddles; a blind spot monitor with a rear traffic alert system; SiriusXM and HD radio; USB; heated washer nozzles; heated exterior mirrors; leather-like seats; heated front seats; a 6.3-inch infotainment touchscreen; and a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support

Options: None

Other Trim Level:

SE; SEL; & Technology

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker audio system AM/FM/CD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder/170-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 25-city/36-hwy

What’s New: After receiving a mid-cycle update last year, the 2017 Passat has fewer trim packages and more standard safety features.

Why: The price of the base Passat drops by an unmentionable $20 this year, while adding more equipment. Since the midsize vehicle went through a major redesign a few years ago, the  segment buster Passat's looks is virtually the same. Nevertheless, the vehicle is classified as a midsize vehicle, its interior and exterior dimensions lands as a tweener candidate straddling the midsize and large car segments. So, with this being the case, the 2017 Passat is roomy and quite comfortable for long hauls. And, for the most part, the layout of the instrument panel and the infotainment system are straightforward and relatively easy to operate.

Added to that, the new R-Line trim, which we reviewed, is a value buy, offering everything from sportier wheels to 19-inch tires to Sirius radio to a power driver’s seat. For approximately $1,500, this is a phenomenal deal. We just can't imagine, anyone buying by the base model, besides price or if they're really payment-sensitive!

Furthermore, the Passat joins the likes of Camry, Altima, Accord and Legacy, holding onto its 6-cylinder engine, while offering a 4-cylinder, too. While the Passat we reviewed was outfitted with the brand’s 4-cylinder turbo, unlike its competitors, we found the engine to be quite spirited and peppy! In fact, this is the only vehicle, with a 4-cylinder in this segment, that did not seem underpowered. Also, being that VW has close ties with its well-healed siblings Audi and Porsche, we could feel the precision driving characteristics that make both of its German luxury brands standouts. In fact, the VW offers the most engaging driving experience of any of its segment competitors.

Further, as an added surprise, the midsize Passat standard 4-cylinder engine is capable of achieving over 536 miles on a tank of gas, according to Needless to say, the driving range is on par with a number of premium priced hybrids in the segment.

Lastly, the vehicle offers a variety of trims, depending upon one’s budget or taste.  While the current vehicle still has strong German ties despite its appeal to American buyers, the vehicle still managed to retain VW's signature rear door lock system, which allows the occupants to unlock and lock doors from the inside at the touch of a button.

But: Because of VW's public diesel entanglement, the fuel-efficient model that one was known for achieving upwards of 750 miles on a tank of gas is no longer available.  

And, the R-line model we reviewed did not offer a sliding adjustable center armrest. Thus, height challenged drivers may not find the armrest to be useful. Also the two base models lacked a keyless entry system and a push-button ignition starter.

Furthermore, many critics believe this current generation Passat has loss some of its luster that separated the once heavily influenced German-engineered vehicle. One of noticeable features we miss is the electronic brake hold feature, which kept us from holding the brakes while at a stop light.
Verdict: Ironically, while new car sales have virtually collapsed in the midsize segment, the Passat is currently the only bright spot, outpacing 2016 sales. The Passat, which is the number two best seller in the VW line up, seems to be reaping the benefits of adding more content and reducing the number of trims. Overall, the R-Line we reviewed seems to be a great value buy.

Competition: Chevy Malibu; Chrysler 200; Ford Fusion; Hyundai Sonata; Kia Optima; Mazda6; Nissan Altima; Subaru Legacy; and Toyota Camry

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