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  • 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 SEL Premium

    Posted on May 11th, 2017 ninarussin

    Midsize sedan adds active safety and infotainment

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    If you’re looking for a German sport sedan but don’t have a German sport sedan budget, consider the 2017 Volkswagen Passat, priced from $22,440: stylish and solidly built with a full roster of active safety features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, blind spot monitoring and park assist. Power comes from a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers wanted more power can opt for the 280-horsepower V-6.

    The Passat is front-wheel drive, but it’s extremely well balanced front-to-back. Drivers needn’t worry about a floating rear end.

    The test car is the 1.8T SEL model priced from $30,995. The upscale grade comes loaded with comfort and convenience features including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED automatic headlamps, power folding heated side mirrors, keyless entry and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, leather upholstery, a 6.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bluetooth interface and satellite radio.

    VW Car-Net is standard on the SEL, adding smart phone apps, navigation and emergency roadside assistance. Final MSRP including the $820 destination charge is $31,815.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    My test drive of the midsize Passat included surface streets and highways throughout the Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley, the Beeline Highway between Phoenix and Payson and the Bush Highway skirting the western edge of the Superstition mountains. While the turbocharged engine doesn’t have the brute power of its V-6 sibling, it delivers consistent performance without parasitic loss at altitude. Acceleration off the line is robust, and there is plenty at the high end for passing slower vehicles at speed.

    The automatic transmission shifts crisply with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of struts with lower control arms and coil springs up front and a multi-link setup in the back. Anti-roll bars on both axles keep the chassis flat while cornering.

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    Ventilated disc brakes up front and solid rotors in the rear stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.

    An electric power steering system is nicely tuned to the car, with good assist on the low end for maneuverability and solid on-center response.

    Visibility around the car’s perimeter is good. A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse. I was-able-to adjust the driver’s seat high enough for a clear forward view. Although the sedan’s B-pillars are thick, their location doesn’t interfere with over-the-shoulder visibility. Blind spot monitoring on the test car illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    2017 Volkswagen Passat

    At night, LED headlamps project bright beams of light close to daylight with minimal battery drain. Standard daytime running lamps make the sedan more visible to other motorists in low light conditions.

    Engineers did a good job of minimizing noise intrusion to the interior so occupants in both rows can converse on the highway or enjoy the upscale audio system.

    Premium interior

    Volkswagen Passat Interior

    Volkswagen Passat Interior

    The upscale SEL incorporates many of the features buyers in the entry luxury segment expect at a lower than entry luxury price. Keyless entry and start makes it easier to enter the car and fire the ignition after dark. Leather upholstery is stylish and comfortable. Both rows of seats are heated, keeping occupants more comfortable in temperature extremes.

    The Fender premium audio system on the test car delivers excellent sound quality, even when put to the ultimate test of classical music. Both climate and infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.

    A spacious trunk has plenty of room for luggage, golf clubs and the weekly groceries. By folding the rear seats flat, the Passat offers enough cargo room for longer items such as skis and snowboards. Cyclists needing a tall cargo bay should consider one of the brand’s crossover vehicles.

    Standard safety

    The Volkswagen Passat comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring and Volkswagen’s intelligent crash response system that automatically illuminates interior lights, unlocks the doors and shuts off the fuel in the event of a serious collision.

    The Passat received a five-star rating from the National Traffic Safety Administration and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

    Volkswagen builds the Passat at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant.

    Like: An affordable sport sedan with German performance, advanced safety and technology features.

    Dislikes: None

    Quick facts:

    Make: Volkswagen
    Model: Passat 1.8T SEL Premium
    Year: 2017
    Base price: $30,995
    As tested: $31,815
    Horsepower: 170 HP @ 6200 rpm
    Torque: 184 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 23/34 mpg city/highway

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