Volkswagen, while dealing with the firestorm of the diesel engine controversy, continues to produce really fine, well-engineered and affordable gasoline powered vehicles across their lineup. The 2016 VW Passat mid-size sedan is one them.
Passat for 2016
The 2016 gasoline powered Passat is available with two powertrains. A 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI four cylinder mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission is available on the five 1.8T trim levels). A new R-Line sport sedan version of Passat introduced this year is also powered by the 1.8L TSI engine. A 3.6-liter VR6 engine, which produces 280 horsepower with 258 lb.-ft. of torque powers the Passat flagship model – the V6 SEL Premium.
Passat for 2016 gets a bit more crisp – some say aggressive look – with a new more sculpted hood, front fenders, grille, front and rear bumpers and trunk lid plus available LED headlights and taillights. The front of the Passat is more squared off with slimmer headlights and a more substantial four-bar grille that is complemented by the new domed hood. There is some subtle restyling at the back including a premium European-style flush rear license plate area and a new chrome strip on the trunk makes the rear lights appear lower. Chrome on the window surrounds, bumpers, and door trim gives the exterior a more premium look.
On the inside, the 2016 Passat interior has been upgraded to a more sophisticated look and feel with upgraded materials. Some of the features include a new instrument panel featuring two large gauges and the new center stack incorporating VW’s latest MIB II infotainment system. Also included are a new steering wheel and column stalk design, two-tone décor panels, and refined chrome and piano black trim.
Of note is their second-generation Modular Infotainment Platform or 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 contains the available Volkswagen Car-Net system of app suites for connected vehicle services and features. VW Car-Net includes App-Connect technology, featuring the three major smartphone integration platforms—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink covering most smartphones available today.
2016 Passat pricing for the 1.8T trims is S – $22,440, SE- $26,280, SE w/Technology – $28,410, SEL – $30,495 with the 1.8T R-Line sport sedan at $23,975. The V6 SEL Premium is $36,835.
2016 Passat 1.8T SE as tested
Our test Passat was a SE model in Reflex Silver Metallic with a Moonrock Gray with Quartz Piping interior. Interestingly, on their build sheets they only show a Titan Black interior color for this exterior. Here in Texas – when you add a sun roof – the Moonrock Gray would be preferred.
As noted, it was powered by the 1.8L TSI gasoline 4-cylinder that delivers 170 horsepower with 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy for the 1.8L is rated at 25/38 mpg city/highway and 29 mpg combined. Mated to the VW 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shifter (to allow manual shifting at driver discretion) and equipped with Sport Mode for enhanced throttle and transmission response, we found this power train to be more than adequate for this sedan. Not quite a sports sedan power train, but it did the job.
Passat SE is equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear View Camera, Front Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Four-wheel Independent Suspension, Electro-mechanical Speed Sensitive Power Steering, Antilock ABS disc braking system and Electronic Stability Control. Running on 17-inch Alloy Wheels with All-season tires, we found handling and ride, again, not quite a sports sedan, but still an easy to drive and comfortable ride – with some spirit.
Other features included Power Sun Roof, Automatic Headlights with Daytime Running Lights, Heated and Foldable Power Adjustable Side Mirrors, Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers with Heated Washer Nozzles.
On the inside the SE featured Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control including second row air vents, Power Drivers Seat, Heated Front Seats, Tilt and Telescopic Steering Wheel with Multi-function Controls, Split Folding Rear Bench Seat with center armrest, front Center Console with armrests and Leatherette Seating Surfaces.
Technology for the SE was adequate for a mid-range mid-size sedan and with the included MIB II Media System and VW Car-Net, provides a good range of features most people want. It included very crisp 6.3-inch touch screen display, AM/FM/HD radio with CD Player, six speakers, Bluetooth Connectivity and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
The delivered price for our Passat SE – as tested – was $28,195.
2016 Passat 1.8T SE w/Technology
We noted the absence of some features on our SE which would (in our view) make it a more desirable mid-size sedan.
If we were buying the Passat, we would have selected the SE w/Technology model at a MSRP of $28,410. It includes everything on the SE (except the Lighting Package) plus adds Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert with braking, Keyless Entry with Push Button Start, Hands-free Opening Trunk, MIB II Discover Media Navigation, Rain-sensing Wipers and Heated Rear Seats – all items which we feel make the Passat a much better value.
Adding the Lighting Package ($1,095) and delivery, a Passat SE w/Technology would price at – still – a very reasonable $30,325.
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
The 2016 Passat, when equipped with the optional Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking system, has been awarded the 2016 Top Safety Pick+ rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Our Passat SE was so equipped as is the SEL w/Technology.
The 2016 VW Passat has also received a top 5-Star rating for safety by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
All 2016 Passat models have rearview cameras as standard equipment. Depending on trim level, Passat models come equipped with several advanced driver assistance systems including 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) and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist)..
While the current concerns about diesel engines in Volkswagens continue to grab headlines, drivers need to be aware that the gasoline powered models from Volkswagen are solid and reliable performers offering affordable value to consumers. A 2016 VW Passat 1.8T SE or SE w/Technology fits that description nicely.