SEATTLE, March 14, 2013 – For many drivers, there’s simply something about the way a German-engineered car drives that is hard to replicate. And for those drivers on a modest budget the Volkswagen’s Passat has been a crowd pleaser for decades. Its 2013 SE edition ups the ante with an available 3.6L V6 engine, on-board navigation and handsome styling.
The SE comes standard with a 4-cylinder engine, but you can opt for more power with this V6 engine which does come with a modest fuel penalty. The EPA rates this configuration at 20/28mpg while the 4-cylinder rates in at 22/31mpg - if you ask me, I’ll take the extra power to only drop down a few points on the mpg rating.
VW rates the 3.6L at 280hp with 258 lbs/ft of torque - and it definitely feels like it when you drive, my only issue was how easily the car would spin the tires on wet roads (had the car been equipped with better all-season tires, perhaps, it wouldn’t have spun quite as easily). To complicate this matter, there’s no way to disable traction control, so what I found was that the car would always hold-back performance on wet-surfaces.
I don’t want a car to “decide” what I can or can’t do so I hope they will reconsider giving the driver the option to disable traction control.
Its 6-speed automatic transmission with “sport mode” and Tiptronic performed rather well - at no time did it ever come across as having to “hunt for the right gear” or have shift-points that seemed awkward. Sport mode really is a game-changer – for all the right reasons – in how the cars performance behaves.
You’ll find it holds the gears quite a bit longer and allows for some very nice RPMs while still shifting rather smoothly.
Inside, VW has really done a good job of designing a cabin area that feels very well appointed yet retains clean lines and surfaces which aren’t too over the top. Everything has a nice “feel” to it and most all controls are within easy reach of the driver.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the 2013 Passat is its interior room - it has one of the largest interior areas I’ve seen in any mid-sized sedan.
Leg room for all five passenger areas is more then ample and easily accommodates taller people. Its trunk space is spacious as well and should have no problems fitting 8 cases of wine back there; in addition, there is a pop-down section in the middle of the rear passenger seats to accommodate things such as skis.
Fender teamed up with Volkswagen to help design the audio system and it was clearly a good match as the overall sound quality is among the best I’ve heard in any new car audio system. There’s support for CD, MP3/WMA encoded discs, satellite radio as well as bluetooth audio.
Its on-board navigation system is easy to use and seemed to perform rather well - its graphics are a bit behind compared to other sedans in this price-segment but overall, it’s functional and a nice add-on.
What matters most to me, however, is the way this car drives. Its steering feels right and is responsive without being quirky - there was simply a good sense of balance. Body roll was minimal and never presented a case where one would feel they are losing control, even around hairpin corners.
I believe Volkswagen has done a very nice job of balancing the car to have a wide appeal in three key areas; looks, performance and its roominess inside. I have yet to find a sedan that impresses me more for the money in these areas.
As I pointed out at the beginning, VW has built a car which brings that great “German feel” to it at a price point that’s competitive and when you factor in its spaciousness and relatively good fuel economy rating, you have a winning combination.
Volkswagen website: http://www.vw.com/en.html
Price: From $30,895.00
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