Unlike competitors that offer multiple powertrain choices, including hybrid propulsion, the Passat gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and that’s it. Photo: Toyota

Just the right amount of ‘new’ polish to show off this gem

When is a new car really new? That question might be on the minds of new-car buyers as they scope out the 2020 Volkswagen Passat

When is a new car really new? That question might be on the minds of new-car buyers as they scope out the 2020 Volkswagen Passat.

The Passat could be called a second-tier midsize sedan, meaning it falls below the line in popularity compared with top-rung models such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and the Nissan Altima. But with increasing preferences for utility vehicles, few if any of these class members are experiencing upticks in sales.

For the Passat’s first redesign of any significance since the 2012 model year, VW has chosen to rework the car in subtle ways. Most body panels, including the hood, fenders and door-panel skins, are new, and the headlights and taillights are more elegantly shaped. But what’s most noticeable is the enlarged and aggressive-looking grille as well as the swept-back roofline that Volkswagen now considers “coupe-like.”

The net effect is a sedan that’s more attractive while still retaining its longstanding understated appearance.

Revisions to the Passat’s passenger compartment are a bit more obvious. There’s a new control panel that looks decidedly high style. Only the gauges and the driver-information screen interrupt the ventilation outlets, which extend ribbon-like across the full width of the dashboard. A new glass-covered 6.3-inch touch-screen (on the smallish side in this class) comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Beneath the sheetmetal, the Passat remains unaltered, unlike the versions sold in Europe and China that are built using VW’s latest MBQ platform. So it’s no surprise that all key measurements — length, width, trunk room and distance between the front and rear wheels — closely mirror those of the outgoing sedan.

Most sedans in the Passat’s class offer two or more powertrain options (including hybrid choices) and some even make all-wheel-drive available. The Passat offers only a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that makes 174 horsepower. For 2020, there’s a new torque converter for the transmission plus software updates for the engine’s electronic controls. Torque output increases to 206 pound-feet from 184.

Carrying over is the six-speed automatic transmission that directs power to the front wheels.

Fuel economy is rated at 10.2 l/100 km in the city, 6.9 on the highway and 8.7 combined.

The base Passat Comfortline starts at $29,000 in Canada, including destination charges. It comes with just the basics including air conditioning, heated front seats and a few power-operated items.

The Highline adds dual-zone climate control, leatherette upholstery (instead of cloth) and power trunk lid and 17-inch wheels (16-inch wheels are standard.

On the safety front, the Highline also gets automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection plus blind-spot monitoring that alerts when other vehicles are approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes.

The Execline ($38,400) tops out with power sunroof, power passenger seat and heated rear seats (all seats are leather covered), automatic high-beam headlights, navigation and premium six-speaker Fender-brand audio. In addition, 19-inch wheels are standard.

Execline buyers also get lane-keeping assist plus adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance to the vehicle in front and adaptive headlights that pivot as the Passat turns.

Paddle shifters and a rear spoiler are Execline options, along with an R Line package. It includes a unique grille, rear spoiler, brushed stainless steel pedals and aluminum door sills.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the Volkswagen Passat is considered entirely new or merely revised. As well, the lack of a hybrid or an all-wheel-drive option might not be of great concern.

What counts most is the sedan’s style, roominess, content, economy of operation and reasonable price point. With these virtues, the Passat stands a better chance of ending up in more driveways.

What you should know: 2020 Volkswagen Passat

Type: Front-wheel-drive midsize sedan

Engine (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (174)

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Market position: Domestic automakers have curtailed the midsize-sedan class (Ford’s is abandoning it completely), but the remaining players continue to introduce significantly new or revised models as they battle for market share.

Points: Modest redesign departs only slightly from the previous model. • New interior styling adds more high-tech accessories. • Base turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes more torque than before, but falls short of most competitors’ outputs. • Lack of performance, hybrid options and AWD could limit buyer interest.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt); pedestrian detection (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 10.2/6.9; Base price (incl. destination) $29,000

BY COMPARISON

Toyota Camry

Base price: $25,250

Top-selling sedan offers four-cylinder and V-6 options. AWD now available.

Chevrolet Malibu

Base price: $23,000

One of only two remaining midsize domestic sedans. Hybrid is gone for 2020.

Nissan Altima

Base price: $25,000

New-for-2019 model comes with turbo and non-turbo I-4 engines. AWD is available.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peace on the water

Harrison Lake was rather serene recently with the lack of usual traffic… Continue reading

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

‘Service beyond the classroom’: Gerry Palmer wins UFV award

Palmer has been involved with UFV for more than 30 years, starting as an instructor

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

RCMP confirm man dead in Chilliwack shooting incident

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

Most Read