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The reasons to be suspicious of the new Volkswagen Passat start right in the first sentence of the press release, where it is stated that the car was “designed for the American lifestyle.” This is troubling because, for many years, the most compelling reason to buy a Passat instead of a Honda Accord was that it offered a bit of German-ness for less than the cost of an Audi. A good chunk of that went away in 2012, when VW announced a U.S.-specific version of the car that came in at a much lower price point, but at the expense of the things that had made the car special.

The U.S. Passat has effectively been a different model from the one the rest of the world gets ever since then, a bit bigger and a bit cheaper. With the 2016 model, Volkswagen has made an effort to make the Passat more similar to the European B8 2015 Volkswagen Passat, which has been sold there for nearly a year at this point. This has largely been successful, and it will probably sell quite well, assuming that Volkswagen ever recovers from the Dieselgate scandal. Because as dull as it was, the previous generation of the Passat was a huge sales hit.

Updated 10/19/2015: Volkswagen announced full pricing details on the 2016 Passat which will be put on sale later this fall. Prices will range from $22,440 for the base version and up to $36,835 for the V6 SEL Premium one. The model will be produced at the company’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Volkswagen Passat.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The changes to the 2016 Passat constitute a mid-cycle refresh, and not an actual new generation. So the changes, both inside and out, are predominately cosmetic. Most of these changes come from the European B8 Passat, and include a bit more chrome and a redesigned front fascia with slimmer headlights and the European grille. But the most significant change is that the R-Line package is being offered for the Passat for the first time in the U.S. This comes with big 19-inch wheels, a new rear diffuser and rocker panels, and black accents, most notably on the front bumper. It doesn’t suddenly turn the car into an Audi RS4, but it really does improve the appearance.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Interior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Interior
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2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Interior
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The layout of the interior is the same as that of the outgoing model, but VW has made little changes to the details here and there. This is best exemplified by the steering wheel, which is no longer used as a way for VW to show off just how cheap-looking plastic can be. The new cabin gives every appearance of having been made with higher quality materials, and this is good, since that was one of the major failings of the current generation. The car also gets the latest VW infotainment system, now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Volkswagen also claims that the system now boasts faster response times, which is always a good thing.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The engines from the 2015 model will all carry over for the 2016, at least in theory. The 2.0 TDI is not currently being sold, and for the time being, there is no word on when it will again be available. VW has listed it among the engines being offered, but the press release was almost certainly written before VW landed in hot water over diesel emissions. Assuming that it ever is cleared by the EPA and offered again, it will probably be worth considering, as the North American Passat holds (for the moment, anyway) the Guinness World Record for fuel economy in a non-hybrid. Say what you will about the emissions, those TDI engines still know how to sip fuel. The gasoline engines are a 1.8-liter turbo and a 3.6-liter VR6, putting out 170 and 280 horsepower respectively.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The outgoing Passat has a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, and there is no reason to think that this would change. Nonetheless, the Passat has some new safety features in the form of driver aides. There is adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and parking steering assist. There is also a new Post-Collision Braking System, which will apply the brakes following a major crash to help bring the car to a stop in the even that the driving isn’t applying the brake for whatever reason. All of these features are optional extras. A rearview camera, however, is now standard.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The new Passat will retail from $22,440, which is a $1,100 premium over the model it replaces. For this amount, you’ll take home a 1.8T S model with a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, MIB II infotainment system with five-inch color display, CD player, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, rearview camera, and the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

Next in line is the R-Line version, a premier for the Passat in the U.S. The slightly sportier model features revised rocker panels, a new front bumper with black accents, and 19-inch wheels. Pricing starts at $23,975, and for an extra $775 Volkswagen will throw in the R-Line Comfort Package, which adds V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, power driver seat, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and heated washer nozzles.

For $26,280, the SE trim comes with the same features as the 1.8T S and adds 17-inch wheels, tilt-and-slide power sunroof, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, MIB II infotainment with 6.3-inch color display, voice control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, power driver seat, and heated front seats.

Those looking for a more premium trim can pick the 1.8T SEL. Priced from $30,495, it comes with 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, the Fender Premium Audio system, stainless steel pedal caps, Vienna leather seating surfaces, rear-seat pass-through, and power front seats with power lumbar and memory settings for driver’s side. The SEL Premium adds LED headlights with LED DRLs and LED taillights, remote start, Lane Departure Warning with active steering, Active Blind Spot Monitor, front and rear Park Distance Control, and Parking Steering Assistant for $34,270.

Finally, there’s the V6 SEL Premium, which features the 3.6-liter VR6 engine that pumps out 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of twist. This model retails from $36,835 and adds a six-speed DSG with paddle shifters, dual trapezoidal chrome exhaust tips, and Hill Hold Control to the 1.8T SEL Premium’s list of standard equipment.

Model Price
2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S $22,440
2016 Volkswagen Passat R-Line $23,975
2016 Volkswagen Passat SE $26,280
2016 Volkswagen Passat SE w/Technology $28,410
2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SEL $30,495
2016 Volkswagen Passat SEL Premium starts $34,270
2016 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium $36,835


Lighting Package $1,245
R-Line Lighting Package $1,095


2016 Honda Accord

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The longtime king of this segment, the Accord was also designed with the American market in mind, but without being so aggressively cheap-looking. It’s generally one of the more entertaining cars to drive in this segment, and even when equipped with the CVT, it isn’t quite as bad as you might expect. There are other options, but the Accord borders on being a secret enthusiast’s car hiding in plain sight.

You can read our full review here.

2013 Ford Fusion

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Considered by many to be the most attractive vehicle in the segment, the Fusion is the Passat’s biggest challenger in Europe, where it is sold as the Mondeo. As with a number of other Ford models, the Fusion has become one of the best ways to get a bit of that European flavor that the Passat no longer offers. The Fusion also offers a couple of different hybrid versions, bound to become much more popular now that their biggest diesel competitor has been taken out of the running.

You can read more about it here.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The 2016 Passat is a somewhat better version of what is still a fairly dull car. There’s nothing really glaringly wrong with it, but apart from a base price that is very slightly cheaper than its competitors, there is nothing about that would really compel you to buy it. But a lot of people seem to like ordinariness in a car, and some of the most unassuming models have made their homes at the top of the list of best-selling cars. The outgoing Passat was never as popular as its competitors in the U.S., but it was much more popular than the previous Passat. This change might make it more popular still, but it will need all of the help that it can get, given how people currently feel about VW.

  • Leave it
    • still not as exciting as Passats used to be
    • no diesel for the foreseeable future
    • still no wagon version
Jacob Joseph
Jacob Joseph
About the author

Press Release

Volkswagen of America, Inc. is pleased to announce the debut of the new 2016 Volkswagen Passat, a midsize sedan that is designed for the American lifestyle and built in Volkswagen’s state-of-the-art factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. The 2016 Passat features a winning combination of design, interior and cargo space, class-leading technology, available driver assistance systems, and powerful, yet frugal, engines. In addition, a revised trim structure will enhance the Passat’s value story.


2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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The 2016 Passat features more aggressive styling than its predecessor, with a new hood, front fenders, grille, front and rear bumpers, trunklid and available LED headlights and taillights. In short, the only sheetmetal that remains unchanged is the roof, the doors, and the body side stamping.

“We applied a progressive design strategy with the new Passat, giving the car a dynamic presence and a more sophisticated look,” said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design, Volkswagen. ”We have integrated several new design elements, including a sculpted, domed hood that significantly sets the car apart from its predecessor.”

Slimmer headlights, a more substantial four-bar grille, and the muscular, domed hood all work together to give the Passat a wider, more planted stance from the front. At the back, the new car has a premium European-style flush rear license plate area. Additionally, a new chrome strip on the trunk makes the rear lights appear lower, enhancing the grounded appearance, while chrome on the window surrounds, bumpers, and door trim adds to the premium nature of the design. Available on all trim lines, dramatic LED headlights and taillights provide better lighting performance with reduced energy consumption.

For the first time, Volkswagen is offering an R-Line® version of the Passat. This sporty model features unique rocker panels, a stylized front bumper with contrasting black accents, a modified rear diffuser, and 19” anthracite Salvador aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 235/40 ZR rated tires.

2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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Inside, the 2016 Passat gets an extensively upgraded interior, for a more sophisticated look and feel. A new instrument panel features two large gauges and the center stack incorporates VW’s latest MIB II infotainment system. The interior also features upgraded materials, a new steering wheel and column stalk design, two-tone décor panels, and refined chrome and piano black trim. Heatable rear seats are a new available feature, along with Easy-Open keyless access that opens the trunk via moving a foot near the rear of the vehicle.


The 2016 Passat features Volkswagen’s second-generation “modular infotainment platform”, also known as MIB II. The system features touchscreens as standard equipment on all models. On most models, the display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor (similar to smartphone and tablet technology) enabling gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming rather than the resistive touchscreens that require pressure and have slightly longer response times. Most MIB II units also feature a proximity sensor, which detects when a hand is nearby and automatically switches its display to allow easier selection of specific features. USB and Bluetooth® connectivity are standard on all 2016 Passat models.

The MIB II system also serves as the foundation for the available Volkswagen Car-Net® system, one of the most comprehensive suites of connected vehicle services and features available in the automotive industry today. VW Car-Net includes App-Connect technology, featuring the three major smartphone integration platforms—Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®. This allows seamless integration with the vast majority of smartphones available today.

2016 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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Volkswagen also offers a combination of new safety and driver assistance systems in the 2016 Passat. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, standard on all 2016 Passat models, builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—which can cause additional collisions. The system helps address this by applying the brakes after a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping to reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, reduce the chance of additional damage.

Depending on trim level, Passat models come equipped with the following advanced driver assistance systems: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert; Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), which actively steers the car back into its lane; and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist). All 2016 Passat models have rearview cameras as standard equipment.


The 2016 Passat is available in the United States with three powertrains: the 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® four cylinder; 2.0-liter TDI®; and the 3.6-liter VR6® engine, which makes 280 horsepower—one of the highest outputs in the midsize sedan class. The 2016 Passat 1.8T has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating of 38 mpg with the automatic transmission.

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Full pricing for the new 2016 Passat will be available closer to launch later this year, but the 1.8T S model starts at $22,440, which is the same price as the previous base model when equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Passat is produced at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant, the only automotive manufacturing facility in the world to receive Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program.

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