2020 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T SE R-Line
The VW Passat is a midsize sedan that competes with the likes of the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. It also competes with the Ford Fusion, which is probably a better comparator for the simple reason that we know what happened to that vehicle.
The simple fact of the matter is that to compete in that segment you’ve got to seriously elevate your game. And refreshed thought it may be, the Passat doesn’t have that altitude.
Another car in its comparative set is the Hyundai Sonata. While it may not be fair to compare because that car is but a year old, customers surely will.
This is the 2020 Passat:
This is the 2020 Sonata:
This is the 2020 Passat (though not with the R-Line trim package):
This is the 2010 Sonata (I have no idea what trim it is—but it is 10 years old):
Which seems to say that the Passat’s game isn’t what it could be.
Now admittedly the vehicle driven here is the R-Line. Which means that it has some mods to make it look sportier, such as having a bumper with gloss-black, C-shaped air intakes and vertical chrome stripes on the grille; a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler around back.
The powertrain is the same as the non-R-line versions, VW’s now-venerable EA888 2.0-liter, which is turbocharged, direct-injected, and capable of producing 174 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic.
To go back to the 2020 Sonata, if you go for the turbocharged, direct-injected version, then it is a 1.6-liter that produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. It has an eight-speed automatic.
(And on the subject of transmissions, the 2020 Camry has an eight-speed and the 2020 Accord has a 10-speed.)
The Passat gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, 27 mpg combined. The Sonata’s numbers are 27/36/31 mpg.
The comparison is being made simply because when people go out car shopping, odds are they’re not just looking at one brand.
All of that said, I did like the Passat because it seems to me to be what a car is, almost the dictionary definition if one remembers the physical dictionaries with the little line drawing for some of the entries. This would be good for car.
It is comfortable; the torque does provide initial pep when getting on the throttle; it seems to be solidly built; the interior is uncontroversial though one remembers not-so-long ago when the German interiors were awesome.
It is a fine car.
The thought is this: Honda, Toyota and Hyundai have decided that even in a world where SUVs and crossovers are reigning supreme, there is still something to be said for midsize sedans, so they are giving there models their all. VW has amped up its attention on crossovers with the Tiguan and the Atlas, and seems to have decided that the cars can pretty much take care of themselves to the extent that they can.
Is it enough?
Nowadays in the U.S. market, vehicle manufacturers pretty much are all committed to producing crossover utility vehicles rather than their predecessor type, the sport utility vehicle.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
Hyundai's product onslaught continues with a new compact that's bigger, more stylish and more efficient than its predecessor. And its development cycle is faster than the competition.