Bottom line: The Volkswagen Passat is a safe, reliable family sedan. However, it has to modernize more quickly, especially in the suspension area, to better keep up with the punishment delivered by rapidly declining American roads.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets satisfying marks in all three. Nothing spectacular.
Head-turning quotient: Looks good at any school, church or shopping center.
Body style, layout: The Volkswagen Passat is a midsize, proudly middle-class, front-engine, front-wheel-drive sedan with a traditional notchback trunk. Trim levels include S, SE (including SE with technology) and V-6 SEL Premium.
Engine/transmission: The V-6 SEL Premium comes with a 24-valve V-6 with variable valve lift and timing (280 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque). It has a six-speed automatic transmission that can be operated manually. The engine automatically stops at idle and instantly resumes when the accelerator is applied.
Capacities: Seating is for five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 15.9 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is fine.
Mileage: I averaged 26 miles per gallon in highway driving with one passenger and a 300-pound load.
Safety: Standard equipment includes fourwheel disc brakes, ventilated front/solid rear; four wheel anti-lock brake protection; stability and traction control; side and head air bags; post-collision safety system; and a full suite of advanced electronic safety systems such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Pricing: The 2017 VW V-6 SEL Passat Premium starts at $33,995. Add an $820 factory-to-dealer fee. Price as tested is $34,815. Shop for discounts. Some VW dealers are offering nearly $4,000 off.