2020 Volkswagen Passat

By May 4, 2020

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat mid-size sedan gets a new body and new features this year, though its overall look hasn’t changed much. It remains a good value with an affordable base price.

The 2020 Passat offers a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 174 horsepower. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Acceleration is moderate, and handling is predictable.

Four adults ride in relative comfort in the Passat, on its compliant suspension that handles fussy roads. Its roomy 15.9 cubic foot trunk is a bright spot.

Fuel economy in the Passat is EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 34 highway, 27 combined.

The 2020 Passat hasn’t been crash-tested yet, but automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and rear-traffic alerts are standard equipment. Adaptive cruise control and active lane control are equipped on Passat SE and higher trim levels. Passat SELs get parking sensors and assistants.

Model Lineup

Passat models include the S, SE, R-Line, and SEL.

Starting at $23,915 including destination, the Passat S comes with a 6.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, at least one USB port, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and the active safety equipment.

For just under $27,000 the Passat SE adds power-adjustable heated seats, synthetic leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control and active lane control, keyless ignition, and automatic climate control.

At more than $32,000, the SEL adds 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, premium audio, and navigation.

Volkswagen offers a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.


For 2020 every body panel on the Passat sedan has been redesigned, resulting in crisp lines especially on the sides. It’s 1.7 inches longer, on a 110.4-inch wheelbase. The grille is wide and more upright, while still being low, under a long chrome brow between the LED headlamps. Sharp creases in the hood draw attention there.

Character lines along the sides run from nose to tail with good effect. At the rear, the taillights stretch in toward the center toward a “Passat” badge.


The cabin is conservative in the updated Passat. The dash is made of black, grained plastic that gains wood veneers in top trims. The Passat’s 6.3-inch touchscreen is behind the times. Volkswagen uses an 8.0-inch screen in other vehicles but for some reason the Passat gets shunned.

Interior storage is adequate, although the center console under the armrest is so far back it can’t be reached without an awkward twist of the torso. Volkswagen is usually very good at ergonomic details, but not here.

The comfortable front seats are good for long distances, upholstered in durable cloth, reasonably soft synthetic leather, or real leather that isn’t matched in quality by even the best trims, in particular the grained black plastic.

In the rear there’s more than 38 inches of leg room, which is good but still less than some roomier mid-size sedans.

The trunk is deep and wide, with 15.9 cubic feet, plenty of room for at least two golf bags.

Over-the-shoulder vision is mostly good.

Driving Impressions

The sole powertrain is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 174 hp and 206 pound-feet of torque, with front-wheel drive. There’s no turbo lag, but it’s not especially quick, and at higher speeds the engine is buzzy and feels overworked. The 6-speed automatic transmission is down a couple of gears from the state of the art.

The Passat’s plus is a smooth ride. On 18-inch wheels, it easily absorbs road imperfections, while the 19-inchers on the R-Line aren’t too harsh. However the R-Line has considerable body lean on those wheels.

Final Word

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat offers space and value for mid-size sedan shoppers. It’s solid in its new looks, ride quality and seating, and its warranty leads some notable rivals.


—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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