Just in Time: The 2016 Volkswagen Passat Gets More Style

Volkswagen Passat
Image: Nicole Wakelin

Can the 2016 Volkswagen Passat save VW?

The 2016 Volkswagen Passat made its debut at a rough time for VW with the diesel emissions scandal having them in the news for all the wrong reasons. The new Passat provides a very good reason for some positive attention with updated styling, better tech, and an affordable price.

Volkswagen’s goal with the styling updates was to make it look more aggressive while staying true to the Passat’s roots. There are new slimmed down headlights up front and a new four-bar grille that do the trick. It’s still a demure sedan, but one with more presence.

Heated Rear Seats, Not Just A Luxury In Cold Climates, Are Available On The More Expensive Passat Models. Photo Credit: Fadra Nally

Heated rear seats, not just a luxury in cold climates, are available on the more expensive Passat models. Photo credit: Fadra Nally

The interior is better too, and although it’s not a luxury car, the quality and look inside will have you wondering how it has a starting price of only $22,440. Seating is comfortable and supportive and details like two-tone panels on the dash add a nice visual punch. There are even available heated rear seats so everyone stays happy on cold days.

Infotainment includes standard touch screens on every model. It features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink integration so syncing up your phone is easy. USB and Bluetooth are standard as is a rearview camera, and there’s a USB port accessible on the rear of the center console for passengers sitting in back. This is a fantastic feature if you often have kids along for the ride.

Volkswagen Passat

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Great new technology: Automatic post-collision braking

In addition to available safety features including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking, the Passat has something new called automatic post-collision braking. This is already available on European Volkswagens and debuts in the U.S. on the 2016 Passat.

It was developed after studies showed many accidents involve more than one collision. There’s the initial impact, and then often a secondary impact as the car rolls away and strikes or is hit by a second vehicle. Automatic post-collision braking applies the brakes after an ¬†accident to prevent additional impacts.

Engine choices are a 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injected TSI 4-cylinder or a 3.6-liter VR6. There is a 2.0-liter TDI diesel, but that’s on hold. I drove the 1.8 with its 170 turbocharged engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.

Volkswagen Passat

The roomy rear seats are heated! Image: Nicole Wakelin

The Passat responds quickly when you press the gas making it easy and fun to drive. Our route through the back roads of Vermont had some rough, pothole-covered sections and the Passat’s suspension smoothed them out to ensure a comfortable ride.

It is also quiet with engine and wind noise kept to a minimum. There is seating for 5 passengers, truly, with enough room for 3 adults in the back without having to squish in like sardines in a can. EPA fuel economy estimates of 25 city/38 highway/29 combined make it a great choice for road trips or long daily commutes.

The base Passat starts at $22,440 and is a good value, but the price creeps up as you add features in higher trim levels. The 1.8T SE with Technology is just under $30,000 and the premium V6 pushes $40,000. The Passat is the best deal when you’re looking at the lower trims.

The 2016 Passat is an enjoyable drive with updated styling, modern technology, and a responsive engine all at a very affordable price. It continues to be a solid choice for those in the market for a new sedan.

Note: I was Volkswagen’s guest to try out the new Passat: VW paid my hotel and travel. Opinions expressed are my own.

Nicole Wakelin contributes to The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, and Boldride, and she hosts her own blog, http://www.nicolewakelin.com, where... More about Nicole Wakelin