2021 Volkswagen Passat

#13
in Sedans
2021 MODEL
$22,995 - $31,095
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7.7

Overall Rating

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2021 Volkswagen Passat Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: August 7, 2020
Rishabh Mehra's image

Rishabh Mehra

Automotive Content Writer

In this SUV driven market, executive sedans are getting whipped out but the Volkswagen Passat is still holding up. The current model has been on sale since 2012, replacing the B6 generation Passat. The 2021 model is a carry-forward model and continues with the same design changes that the 2020 model first introduced. 

The NMS Passat now gets just one engine throughout its lineup, the 2.0L TSI motor. It is still paired with the ancient 6-speed automatic transmission. The motor powers the front wheels exclusively and AWD is not offered even as an option. It takes up against the likes of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and the Chevrolet Malibu.

See detailed review »

Pros

Spacious cabin

Comfortable ride

Standard safety features

Cons

Bland styling 

Uninspiring driving dynamics

What's New?

A carry-forward model for 2021


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
2021 Volkswagen Passat Review video
2021 Volkswagen Passat Interior video

Styles

2021 Volkswagen Passat in Pure White color
Pure White

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

8.0

Engine And Performance

7.8

Fuel Economy

7.9

Interior

8.1

Exterior

7.2

Safety

8.1

Competition

7.0

7.7

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2021 Volkswagen Passat S

S

power
174 hp @ 5200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
29 combined

$22,995


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $22,995 MSRP (25/29/36) 174 hp @ 5200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 5

2021 Volkswagen Passat SE

SE

power
174 hp @ 5200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
29 combined

$25,845


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $25,845 MSRP (25/29/36) 174 hp @ 5200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 5

2021 Volkswagen Passat R-Line

R-Line

power
174 hp @ 5200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
29 combined

$28,645


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
R-Line 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $28,645 MSRP (25/29/36) 174 hp @ 5200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 5

2021 Volkswagen Passat SEL

SEL

power
174 hp @ 5200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
29 combined

$31,095


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $31,095 MSRP (25/29/36) 174 hp @ 5200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 5

Expert Review

7.7

Overall Rating


The new 2021 Volkswagen Passat is not really a new sedan. It received a mid-life facelift last year to spice things up a bit. The changes are barely noticeable but VW says that almost all of the panels are new except for the A-pillar and the roof. The 2.0L motor puts out 174 horsepower and is mated to only a 6-speed automatic transmission, unlike its European counterpart which gets a much more sophisticated and modern 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Side Three Quarter View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Rear Side Three Quarter View

8.0/10
Features

 
 
 

7.8/10
Engine and Performance

 

7.9/10
Fuel Economy

 

8.1/10
Interior

 

7.2/10
Exterior

 

8.1/10
Safety

 

7.0/10
Competition

 
 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Features

8.0/10

The 2021 Volkswagen Passat is offered in four trims, the base S trim, SE, sporty R-line, and the top-spec SEL trim. The base S trim is priced at $23,995 and it gets full LED lighting as standard along with heated side mirrors with memory function. On the inside, it gets 6-way manually adjustable front seats with cloth upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel, and cruise control. A slew of standard features including blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera, rear traffic alert among others are offered as standard as well.

Moving to the SE trim priced at a premium of almost $3000 gets updated adaptive cruise control along with dual-zone automatic climate control and a remote start feature. It also gets a keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel among others.

Trims

S

SE

R-Line

SEL

MSRP*

$23,995

$26,765

$29,595

$32,015

Key Features

LED Headlights

Adds to S Features:

Adds to SE Features:

Adds to R Line Features:

 

Blind Spot monitor

Adaptive cruise control

19-inch alloy wheels

Leather seats

 

Front assist

Dual-Zone climate control

Power tilting/sliding sunroof

Fender premium audio system

 

App-Connect

Remote start

R-Line front bumper and badging

Park distance control

*2020 data for reference

At $29,595, the R-line trim gets updated and more sporty looking R-line bumpers and other bodywork upgrades along with bigger 19-inch wheels that fill the wheel well perfectly. A powered sunroof makes the cut too. 

The top-of-the-line SEL trim is priced at $32,015 and gets all the bells and whistles one might imagine to get at this price point. The kit includes full leather upholstery with an option of speccing premium Nappa leather for the ultimate luxurious experience. It gets an upgraded premium audio system from Fender as well. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Maintenance, Reliability and Warranty

Volkswagen cars are built solidly. They are not the most reliable cars in the industry but VW’s service network is quite wide and the maintenance costs for a new German car with a VW badge on it is supremely low. The 2018 VW Passat scored a respectable 78 out of 100 on the JD Power report which is at par with its rivals. 

Ownership Costs

The cost of ownership plays a major role while buying a new car. The actual living costs may vary depending on the state and the way the car is used but on average it tells the real price of the car over time. The current generation VW Passat has been on sale since 2012 and mechanically hasn’t changed that much. It is easy to procure spare parts for the German sedan and brings the ownership and maintenance costs low. 

 

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Total

Tax Credit

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Insurance

$1,211

$1,253

$1,297

$1,343

$1,390

$6,494

Maintenance

$67

$534

$700

$1,292

$2,032

$4,625

Repairs

$0

$0

$0

$0

$1,183

$1,183

Taxes & Fees

$2,204

$179

$167

$156

$143

$2,849

Financing

$1,397

$1,124

$831

$521

$188

$4,061

Depreciation

$6,809

$1,849

$1,750

$2,053

$1,943

$14,404

Fuel

$1,810

$1,864

$1,920

$1,977

$2,037

$9,608

True Cost to Own

$13,498

$6,803

$6,665

$7,342

$8,916

$43,224

The maintenance cost of the Passat lies in the same ballpark as the Toyota Camry which is the segment leader when it comes to easy and hassle-free ownership. Honda Accord is itself a reliable sedan but Honda parts do cost a bit more than Toyota. All these prices are subject to change from state to state and are a rough estimate just to give an idea of the yearly ownership cost of Volkswagen Passat. 

Warranty

Volkswagen offers a decent warranty package for the new Passat. It is comparable to what Toyota offers for its Camry. It offers a decent powertrain warranty package and lives up to the standards of the segment along with 2 years of complimentary maintenance. 

Criteria

Period

Limited warranty

4 years/ 50,000 miles; whichever is earlier

Powertrain warranty

4 years/ 50,000 miles; whichever is earlier

Complimentary scheduled maintenance

2 years/25,000 miles service schedule available

Honda Accord misses out on complimentary maintenance service which is offered by both Volkswagen and Toyota. Talking about complimentary service, Chevrolet offers only the first service as complimentary for its Malibu.

Miles Per Dollar

Volkswagen Passat is quite cheap to maintain especially in its initial years and the sedan offers decent fuel economy numbers, be it in the city or out on the highway. Considering the fuel costs and the maintenance cost, the Passat should run for 8 miles on a dollar which is quite cheap and is as low as some of the compact sedans. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Buying Advice

The mid-spec SE trim is the sweet spot in the whole Passat lineup. It gets all the necessary features like LED lighting, 17” wheels, sunroof, leatherette upholstery on the inside along with a long list of standard safety features, all at a price of $26,765. Mechanically all of the trims are exactly the same. 

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The current-gen Passat first broke covers in 2012 and since has received multiple facelifts but underneath it is still the same. A low mileage 2016 or a 2017 model should do the trick as VW offered an infotainment system as standard along with a multitude of safety features. The four-cylinder is mostly the same except for a lower torque figure of 184 lb-ft instead of 206 lb-ft. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Engine and Performance

7.8/10

 The mid-size German sedan from the VW stable is powered by the same 2.0L TSI motor as we have seen earlier. The turbocharged unit puts out 174 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque. The torque figure is quite decent and is the highest among its key competitors. The engine feels smooth and offers a good mid-range punch. The low end is lacking from any kind of shove and the turbo lag is pretty noticeable below 2000rpm. The new Passat only comes with a four-cylinder engine and there’s no option for a V6 which is sad. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Engine Bay

The motor is mated to an ancient 6-speed slushbox whereas all of its rivals offer 8-speeds or more or a CVT. As expected, the gearbox is a weak point for the Passat. It is not the quickest shifting box and hunts for gears quite often. With that said, drive the Passat at a relaxed pace and this gearbox settles into its comfort zone and delivers smooth and unobtrusive shifts. 

Models

Volkswagen Passat

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Malibu

Honda Accord

MSRP

$23,995

$24,295

$22,090

$23,720

Engine

2.0L Intercooled Turbo Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-

1.5L Inline-4

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

6-Speed Automatic

8-Speed Automatic

CVT

CVT

Power

174hp@5,000rpm

203hp@6,600rpm

163hp@5,700rpm

192hp@5,500rpm

Torque

206lb-ft@4,250rpm

184lb-ft@4,700rpm

184lb-ft@2,500rpm

192lb-ft@1,600rpm

The Toyota Camry is still going the naturally-aspirated route. It is powered by a 2.5L inline-four engine and develops more than 200 horsepower which is the segment best. Honda Accord’s base trims are powered by a small but effective 1.5L turbocharged engine that produces a healthy output of 192 hp. It feels the quickest of them all, thanks to a lighter engine hanging on the front axle. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Acceleration And Braking Performance

Off the line, the performance is not that promising. It feels extremely laggy in the way it delivers power to the front wheels. It's no dragster but even by segment standards, the Passat feels slower. Mash your right foot to the floor and the Passat reaches 60mph in 7.5 seconds and flat out it should do 130 mph. To shed all this speed, the VW Passat gets some of the biggest rotors in the segment. Even with such artillery, the Passat takes 127 ft to come to a halt and that’s down to a heavy curb weight of 3325 lbs. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Accelerate 0-60 MPH in just 7.5 sec

Model

Volkswagen Passat

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Malibu

Honda Accord

0-60 MPH

7.5 sec

7.6 sec

8.5 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

14.3 sec

16.0 sec

15.9 sec

Top Speed

130 MPH(est)

135 MPH

135 MPH

N/A

Engine

2.0L Intercooled Turbo Inline-4

2.5L Inline-4

1.5L Turbocharged Inline-

1.5L Inline-4

60-0 MPH

127 ft

123 ft

109 ft

124 ft

The Chevrolet Malibu’s low power figure combined with a CVT transmission results in a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds which is painfully slow considering the segment. The CVT transmission just cannot put down the power to the wheels the way it is intended to. Honda Accord’s CVT feels like a much better-calibrated unit. Honda engineers designed a pre-selected ratio for a better launch which lets the power flow to the wheels just like the first gear in an automatic gearbox.

2021 Volkswagen Passat Fuel Economy

7.9/10

The engine and gearbox ratio is not exactly the most efficient combo in the segment. The engine has to be revved to get a move on and the transmission can do with one or two more ratios to spread all that power more evenly. In the city, the Passat is rated at 25 mpg and on the highway, it can return up to 36 mpg. These numbers are certainly not the segment-best. With that being said, the Passat is blessed with the biggest fuel tank capacity and thus can travel for a longer distance on one tank of gas. 

Model

Volkswagen Passat*

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Malibu

Honda Accord

MPG (City)

25

29

29

30

MPG (Highway)

36

41

36

38

MPG (Combined)

29

34

32

33

Fuel Capacity

18.5 gallons

14.5 gallons

15.8 gallons

14.8 gallons

Range (City/Hwy/Combined)

426/629/536 miles

421/595/493 miles

458/569/505 miles

444/562/488 miles

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/yr)

6.6

5.2

5.5

5.3

*2020 data for reference

Toyota Camry with its big 2.5L naturally aspirated engine somehow manages to return 41 mpg out on the highway which is certainly better than what Honda Accord can manage with its smaller turbocharged engine along with a CVT. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Interior

8.1/10

2020 model year saw a major refresh in terms of styling both outside and on the inside. The update is subtle but truly enhances the look and feel of the cabin. It certainly looks and feels more premium than before. The dashboard design is undoubtedly Volkswagen. It’s all straight and angular lines flowing all around the cabin. New is the wooden finish on the dashboard along with faux stitching on the top of the dash. The air-con vents are similar to what we have seen in the Audi A4 and the A6

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Seats

Top-spec SEL trim gets an option of Nappa leather upholstery which uplifts the appeal of the cabin. Seats are nice and supportive and can be adjusted electronically on the top-spec trims. Dual-zone climate control is a part of the package along with heated rear seats. Talking about the rear bench, it is super comfy and the seat base is supremely supportive and is great for long journeys. Behind the rear seats, the Passat offers one of the biggest boots of them all. At 15.9 cu.ft. it is the most accommodating boot in this comparison after the Accord and for even better usability, the seats get 60:40 split functionality. 

Model

Volkswagen Passat

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Malibu

Honda Accord

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

38.3/56.9/42.4

38.3/57.7/42.1

40.1/58.5/45.3

39.5/58.3/42.3

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

37.8/57.0/39.1

38.0/55.7/38.0

37.5/57.1/38.1

37.3/56.5/40.4

Cargo Capacity

15.9 cu.ft.

14.1 cu.ft.

15.8 cu.ft.

16.7 cu.ft.

The Chevrolet Malibu offers a tad bit more shoulder room compared to the Passat and thus is suited better for carrying three passengers abreast at the back. It's the Honda Accord that offers the most amount of legroom at the back, thanks to its long wheelbase.

2021 Volkswagen Passat infotainment system

Cheaper models get a 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with SiriusXM subscription for three months. Climb the ladder to the SEL trim and the smaller screen makes way for an 8-inch system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The system is easy to use but is not the latest version as seen in the Tiguan. It gets physical shortcut buttons on the side of the display for better usability while on the move. SEL trim also gets a premium Fender music system that sounds absolutely amazing and is worth the upgrade. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Infotainment System

 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Cockpit
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Cockpit
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Steering
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Steering
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Infotainment System
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Infotainment System
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Seats
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Seats
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Rear Seats
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Rear Seats

2021 Volkswagen Passat Exterior

7.2/10

The new Passat doesn't look all that different from the older models even though according to VW, except for the A-pillar and the roof, every other panel is brand spanking new. The design is evolutionary and not revolutionary. The chrome grille has grown in size and sedan now gets LED headlamps with signature DRLs as standard. The hood looks muscular with a lot of straight lines that add to the whole character of the sedan. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Side View

On the side, a strong shoulder line runs from headlamps to the rear end of the sedan. The design is quite contemporary and it all looks extremely corporate and German and borderline boring. With that said, the design is inoffensive and should appeal to the masses. 

Model

Volkswagen Passat

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Malibu

Honda Accord

Curb Weight

3325 lbs

3241 lbs

3126 lbs

3131 lbs

Length

193.6"

192.1"

193.8"

192.2"

Width

72.2"

72.4"

73"

73.3"

Height

58.0"

56.9"

57.6"

57.1"

Ground Clearance

5.4"

5.7"

N/A

5.7"

Wheelbase

110.4"

111.2"

111.4"

111.4"

The Honda Accord is the widest and has the longest wheelbase here and the roofline rakes, a bit like a coupe. It looks much better in person and the design feels fresh and is definitely the more exciting sedan to look at. 

2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Side Three Quarter View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Front Side Three Quarter View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Rear Side Three Quarter View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Rear Side Three Quarter View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Side View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Side View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Side View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Side View
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Wheel
2021 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Wheel

2021 Volkswagen Passat Safety

8.1/10

The 2019 VW Passat was awarded an excellent five-star safety rating by the NHTSA. The 2020 model has not yet been tested by the organizations. With that said, the 2020 facelift and now the 2021 model, both are based on the same platform as the one seen on the 2019 Passat. The new Passat gets a host of active safety features as well to make the ride as safe as possible. Some of the features are: 

  • Front Assist w/Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Brake assist
  • 6 airbags
  • Active Cruise Control
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blindspot monitor
  • Reversing camera
  • Lane keep assist
  • Pedestrian warning

2021 Volkswagen Passat Competition

7.0/10

2021 Volkswagen Passat vs Toyota Camry

The all-new Toyota Camry is one of the most desirable cars in this segment. It gets a host of powertrain options including a superb naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine and a big V6 in the TRD trim. If a sporty body kit on your sensible Camry is what you like, then the Toyota is for you. With the sensible design and practical cabin, the Camry is backed up by the ultimate reliability quotient and the safety net of Toyota’s after-sales. It sounds like a much better package. 

2021 Toyota Camry Sedan

2021 Volkswagen Passat vs Honda Accord

The new Honda Accord is the big daddy of the mid-size sedan segment. It is one of the most popular choices among the buyers looking for a premium and family-friendly yet fun to drive sedan. The Accord seems to tick all of the boxes. It is well built, offers plenty of safety features, and offers a super spacious cabin. The VW Passat just cannot match the diverse personality of the Honda Accord. 

2021 Honda Accord Sedan

2021 Volkswagen Passat vs Chevrolet Malibu

The Chevrolet Malibu is one of the more forgettable sedans in the segment. It features a mediocre built quality along with some of the least powerful four-cylinder engines of the segment. With that said, it offers plenty of kit on the inside and a spacious cabin thanks to its big proportions. The suspension is one of the highlights of this package that offers a splendid ride. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu Sedan

2021 Volkswagen Passat Final Verdict

The 2021 VW Passat is one of the oldest dogs running this race with a new face. Underneath all of the new tech is still an aging 8-year-old platform and engine and gearbox combination. With that said, it still offers a comfortable ride quality, decently comfortable cabin, and a tonne of safety features as standard at an affordable price.