It was long overdue, but the 2020 Volkswagen Passat has been overhauled — though not to a fuller extent, as one would expect. The exterior and the interior have been tweaked and though the power train has been retained, the torque gets a boost of 22 over its predecessor.
Our test drive was equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine that develops 174 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 206 pounds-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm while mated to a standard but responsive six-speed auto gearbox. Suspension is handled competently via a strut-type with lower control arms front and multilink rear with coil springs. The rack-and-pinion electric power assist offers a direct and communicative feel.
Up front, a muscular domed hood meets up with a full-chromed triple-bar grille flanked by slim LED headlights. Another evident feature is the Passat badging across the deck lid surrounded by LED tail lamps. Two large speedometer and tachometer gauges in the refreshed instrument cluster are crystal-clear to read. The center stack shows off a 6.3-inch touch screen for the infotainment system. The two-tone décor panels and chrome trim on a/c vent bezels, upper door, cup holders and shift lever add European flair to the Passat.
Rear-seat passengers get 39.1 inches of legroom, more than plenty to stretch on those long summer trips. Other amenities include dual auto a/c, 60/40 rear seat, eight-way power front seats, heated front and rear seats, power tilt/slide sun roof, stainless-steel pedals, flat-bottomed three-spoke steering column, Fender audio system and a 15.9 cubic feet trunk that beats the Camry capacity.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, electronic stability and traction control, three-point seatbelts for all positions, adaptive cruise control, rearview camera, blind spot monitor, front collision and land keep, post-collision and auto emergency braking, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.
Base-priced at $31,095, the Passat’s peppy turbo engine will give other midsize sedan stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord a run for their money. This great everyday car boasts strong acceleration, remarkable handling and steering feel. And with outstanding fuel economy figures (we drove almost 500 miles on a full tank), it’s a home run for Volkswagen.
Wheelbase: 110.4 inches
Length: 193.6 inches
Weight: 3,325 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 34 mpg
Web site: www.vw.com
Nitish S. Rele operates motoringtampabay.com and Khaas Baat, and was an automotive editor/columnist for the Tampa Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.