In the luxurious hills of Stowe, I took the updated 2016 Volkswagen Passat for a test drive.
So here we are, a couple dozen journalists and myself, in a luxury resort up in the hills of Stowe for an evening of fine dining followed by a three-hour tour of the lovely state of Vermont the following morning.
I know, it sounds just terrible, and believe me when I say we had to work… but by work I mean take the updated 2016 Volkswagen Passat for a test drive, and a long test drive at that.
We braved the fierce, mountainous terrain departing the lodge that led to long daunting field-lined stretches of road. And before lunch, we passed alongside the treacherous Canada - US border. It was a grueling day in the office, but you know somebody has got to do the job, and I survived to report to you my experiences with the latest Das Auto has to offer.
It all began bright and early with another fabulous meal, followed by a brief presentation and walk around to introduce the new updates. Upon initial glance, the new Passat doesn’t look all that different, and for good reason. In terms of the structural design, the passenger compartment from the A-pillar back to the C-pillar is essentially the same car—with the exception of a little more strengthening in places in order to improve safety ratings.
The redesign focuses on a new fiercer and bulked up front end tailored to the American market. The squinty headlights, shorter grill, and bulging hood separate the new Passat from your old boring neighbor’s daily drive. In the back, the Santa Monica-based design team just tightened things up a bit with a little LA-style nip and tuck to spice up this mid-sized sedan for us Yanks.
What's on the Inside?
That angular motif carries on inside as well with stronger lines along the dash, which is centered around a lovely analog timepiece. Sometimes, it’s these simple things that stand out.
The big crowning achievement of the new Passat comes in the form of the new MIB-II infotainment package that focuses on bringing a more seamless integration with smartphones, whether through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or MirrorLink. This allows for better use of Bluetooth and cell phone apps through the built-in display as opposed to filling it with the overly complex and instantly obsolete GPS and infotainment systems we’ve grown accustomed to.
Perhaps this is the greatest news for those millenials out there, who would go into a state of shock if they were forced to listen to a commercial break on FM radio. There is no need for special order cords that are always too short and located in some of the most inconvenient locations. Volkswagen has gotten smart, and there is now a USB and auxiliary port in a hidden compartment right in front of the gear lever!
Among the three different trim levels, this VW can be had with a varying array of luxurious upgrades, but comes “standard” in S-line form at $22,440. This includes the MIB-II infotainment package in the form of a touchscreen 5-inch display, rear-view camera, and 16” alloy wheels.
New to this generation of Passat is the R-Line trim package with an even meaner looking jaw-line and rear diffuser, riding on standard 19’ alloy wheels and the obligatory R-Line badging.
Capping off the line-up is the SE package with a sunroof and laundry list of tech options, including a Fender audio system and multiple safety features like lane-keep assist, to park assist, to an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. In short, this system applies the brakes after a primary collision is detected in order to prevent or minimize the damage of a secondary collision.
Wait, Am I Forgetting Something?
For the observant readers out there, you may have noticed I’ve left out the D-word or a certain TDi acronym. As a result of recent events, the crown jewel of the VW power plants is being put on hold for the new Passat until there is a viable and approved solution. On that note, those of you interested in learning more can turn to the link on the main Volkswagen webpage.
For the time being, the only two power plant options are the 1.8 liter turbo with 170hp and 184 lb-ft mated to a 6-speed automatic or the farmiliar 3.6 liter direct-injected VR6 that puts out 280hp and 258 lb-ft and is tied to a 6-speed DSG automatic.
Behind the wheel, I found myself pleasantly surprised by this lovely little German masterpiece. What more could you want from a mid-sized sedan? It goes decently well, even with the 1.8L, the back seat provides ample room, and it’ll take you where you need to go in Audi-rivaling style and luxury. The new redesign is more attractive than ever, and the connectivity provides an unparalleled ease of use for such a capable system.
Everything just fit so perfectly and felt so right creating a perfectly pleasant environment for exploring the breathtaking state of Vermont or even, dare I say, sitting through typical LA gridlock.