A year after a complete redesign, Volkswagen's midsize Passat sedan takes a breather from major changes, using 2007 for the intro of optional adaptive cruise control, a special "Wolfsburg" trim level and a wagon version. A German-built model with a worldwide following, the Passat has been a longstanding part of VW's lineup and the big brother to VW's smaller, more populist Jetta sedan.
The front-drive Passat sedan for five comes in four models powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower four with manual or automatic transmission, or a space saving 3.6-liter, 280-HP "narrow angle" V6. The only transmission for the 3.6 is a six-speed Tiptronic automatic with on-demand manual mode and shift paddles on the steering wheel. Optional "4Motion" full-time all-wheel-drive is available on the 3.6. A "brake wiping" feature is part of the Passat's standard anti-lock braking system (ABS), designed to keep brakes clean and dry.
Both engines are mounted transversely, to allow more interior passenger room. Inside, technology abounds. A push-button "e" brake replaces a mechanical one. The keyfob connects with an electronic key beam plugged into the keyhole, and a "hill-hold" button keeps manual trans models from rolling backwards when the vehicle, in an uphill direction, is started.
All versions get updated audio connectivity to accommodate an optional iPod adapter. Front seats are bolstered for support, with heated seats and 12-way power seats available. Other options, depending on model, include a DVD-based nav system and SIRIUS satellite radio connectivity, leather trim, and front and rear Park Distance Control to prevent crunch time from a tight parking spot. The driver's door has a built-in umbrella holder for those soggy days in any town.
Outside, optional swivel front headlamps follow the curve of the road, while separate cornering lights highlight any objects during a turn.
Base price for the 2.0T with manual transmission is $23,180. Estimated EPA mileage is 23 city/32 highway. (Wagon version pricing start at about $25,000.) Besides full airbag systems and other safety technology, 24-hour Roadside Assistance for four years has no mileage limit.