The most expensive Passat you can buy makes a good case for buying a less expensive one.

– Cleveland, Ohio

There’s not a reason I can think of for recommending a midsize family sedan with an upgraded engine. These bigger engines (usually V6s but sometimes high-output turbocharged four-cylinders) are usually a couple grand more expensive and considerably less fuel efficient. And yet here I am with a V6-powered Volkswagen Passat that’s as loaded as they come, asked to pass judgment on whether it’s worth your consideration. Fortunately, there is a lot to like about the recently refreshed Passat, and there are even some endearing qualities about its powerful V6.


  • I could give you the exact dimensions of the Passat’s rear seat and trunk, but it wouldn’t do them justice. You have to open the rear doors and pop the trunk to see for yourself that it has more interior and cargo space than any midsize sedan you’ve ever seen before.
  • Even though I generally don’t recommend buying an upgraded engine like this Passat’s 3.6-liter V6 (it’s only available in this most expensive trim, by the way), I have to admit this motor is excellent. With 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, urgency is easily commanded without delay, but its nearly vibration-free operation is what makes it such a great daily driving partner.
  • Speaking of driving, the Passat has a nice long wheelbase that makes it perfect for relaxed highway cruising. The ride is very compliant and the steering errs on the slow side, which is great for counting off hundreds of miles without even noticing.


  • The Passat’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which VW brands as DSG, is not well-mannered. The upside of using this type of transmission is lightning-quick shift speeds, but the downside is all too apparent at low speeds and starting from a stop where it tends to hesitate, lurch, and even bog down the engine.
  • While there’s nothing wrong with the look of the Passat’s well-designed interior, I find the overuse of very hard plastics to be a problem. The darker part of the top of the dash is skinned with soft-touch materials, but the parts I actually touch while driving are hard as a rock. In particular, my right knee rests up against some hard plastic that eventually left a bruise.
  • Here’s the truth about this very expensive Passat V6 SEL Premium: There are better Passats you can buy for less money. The base turbocharged four-cylinder engine is more than adequate in terms of power and refinement, is available on every trim level, and gets excellent fuel economy (up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway). My recommendation: get the Passat 1.8T SE with Technology trim for $28,410. If you have to have the SEL Premium, get it without the V6 and you’ll save nearly $2,300, plus a half-dozen trips to the gas station each year.





OUTPUT 280 Horsepower / 258 Pound-Feet (Premium Fuel)

20 City / 28 Highway / 23 Combined

WEIGHT 3,571 Pounds
CARGO VOLUME 15.9 Cubic Feet
BASE PRICE $22,440


Photos: John Neff /

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