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The family sedan may not be king of the market anymore, but that does not mean there are not some great options still out there. A perfect example of this is the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. This incredibly comfortable midsize sedan has a lot going for it, making it a must-see for many consumers. Unfortunately, no vehicle is perfect, and the Passat is also not immune to having some flaws. So is it the best option out there, or does it fall short of its competition?
What's New for 2020?Styling changes can be found both inside and out when it comes to the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. Both the front and rear bumpers have a more sculpted look and the trunk badging has been enlarged. There are also new wheel designs available for buyers. Inside, heated rear seats become an option on select trims. Luxurious Nappa leather is also newly available. Perhaps the biggest change for 2020 involves the engine, which is able to produce significantly more torque now.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2020 Volkswagen Passat – The Pros
1. Comfortable Backseat
The backseat is no mere afterthought inside the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. With more than three feet of leg room in the rear, it is easy for nearly anyone to stretch out and relax. The available rear USB charging ports ensure that everyone can keep their gear going. Rear air vents are standard. This makes sure that the hot or cold air being blown on the front occupants makes it all the way to the back passengers as well. Plus, heated rear outboard seats are an option.
2. Sporty R-Line Available
Those who want a more athletic appearing midsize sedan should consider the R-Line trim level of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat. These models sit on stylish 19-inch wheels. Unlike with some vehicles, these larger wheels do not detract from the stability or smoothness of the vehicle. Specialized badging can be found on the exterior. This model even gets a more aggressive design for the front bumper, further distinguishing it from other Passat models. As a bonus, the R-Line adds a power tilt-and-slide moonroof to its standard equipment list.
3. Available Park Distance Control with Maneuver Braking
Any driver that at least occasionally struggles to squeeze into tight parking spaces will appreciate the available park distance control feature. Relying on parking sensors and using both audio and visual cues, it can help the driver gauge how much space they have both in front of as well as behind the vehicle. When the system detects the Passat getting too close to an obstacle, it emits warning beeps. If that fails to stop the vehicle, the maneuver braking feature kicks in and automatically applies the brakes.
4. Satisfying Engine with a Smooth Ride
All trim levels of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat are powered by a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. These two work well together, providing buyers with a smooth ride in most circumstances. The powertrain generates 174-horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque. Last year's model only produced 184 lb-ft of torque. Producing even more torque translates into quicker and more satisfying acceleration. The balanced handling of this vehicle helps keep everyone relaxed while riding inside.
5. Spacious Trunk
Buyers will find that the 2020 Volkswagen Passat has 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space. This is a phenomenal number for the midsize sedan segment of the market. Certain trim levels also offer buyers a hands-free trunk lid for added convenience. In situations where more space is required, the rear seats fold nearly flat.
6. Intelligent Crash Response System
In the event of a collision, the Passat has drivers covered with its standard Intelligent Crash Response System. When a crash is detected, this system automatically unlocks all the doors and turns off the fuel pump, potentially preventing an explosion. It also will automatically turn on the hazard lights. The idea of this system is to protect the occupants of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat if they are unable to do so themselves.
7. Standard App Connect Feature
All four trim levels of the new Passat feature App Connect. This allows both Android and Apple users to connect their compatible smartphone with their vehicle. Through this, drivers can access maps, make phone calls, and even stream their favorite music. They can even send and hear texts hands-free, something that can greatly reduce distractions while behind the wheel.
8. Attractive Exterior Style
Simply put, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat is an attractive sedan. Standard LED head and taillights, which are new for this year, make a stylish statement while also increasing the safety of the vehicle. It is available in six sophisticated colors, including Aurora Red Metallic and Deep Black Pearl. Sleek lines and a low profile help distinguish the Passat from other sedans currently out there. The same is true of the newly redesigned bumpers.
9. Standard Active Safety Features
The number of standard safety features on all trim levels of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat is very competitive. All models will give buyers forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. Also standard is a rearview camera, as well as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The SE trim level and up also get lane-keeping assist, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and adaptive cruise control. As for the SEL, it gets a parallel parking assist feature, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive headlights that can help illuminate the road when going around bends.
10. Luxurious SEL Trim LevelThose who want as many features as possible out of their Passat will want to jump straight to the SEL trim. On top of having extra safety features, this is the only trim to offer standard leather upholstery as well as heated rear outboard seats. On the tech front, this feature gains a navigation system as well as a premium eight-speaker Fender sound system. Buyers who want to spend a little less will likely be more than satisfied with the SE or R-Line, both of which offer heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a standard WiFi hotspot.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2020 Volkswagen Passat – The Cons
1. Fuel Economy Numbers are Low
One reason consumers shun SUVs for sedans is to get better fuel efficiency. The Passat, however, only offers up 23mpg in the city and 34mpg on the highway. Not only do most sedans beat those numbers, but some SUVs can as well.
2. Interior Materials Lag Behind Competitors
While there is nothing really wrong with the cabin of the 2020 Volkswagen Passat, it is not terribly impressive either. Even the upper trims are missing the higher-end materials seen in the competition. There are quite a few plastic pieces to be found inside all models. This may be significant to some consumers, while others will likely not take issue with it.
3. Touchscreen is a Bit Dated
The largest screen available for the Passat is only 6.3-inches. This is surprisingly small in comparison to rivals, which typically have at least a 7-inch screen for lower trims and an 8-inch or larger screen for top models. How much does size matter when it comes to touchscreens? That is ultimately a matter of personal preference.
4. Few Interior Storage Options
While the trunk of the Passat is impressive, storage solutions for smaller items inside the cabin are not. The center armrest is set quite far back, making it difficult to access the one decently-sized storage cubby found inside. Other midsize sedans offer more places for conveniently stashing smaller gear.
5. Transmission Only Has Six Gears
Although it shifts smoothly, the transmission still manages to be a bit disappointing due to the fact that it only has six forward gears. Adding a few more gears would likely not only improve the overall performance, but also increase fuel economy numbers as well. It would also help the Passat better compete with rivals.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
Drivers may also want to consider the Nissan Altima is they are in the market for a midsize sedan. This vehicle has a very comfortable cabin, but lacks the trunk space found in the Passat. It also has a higher base price. Another option to consider would be the Chevrolet Malibu. Although nice enough, the major problem with this vehicle is the fact that it has no standard driver aids, unlike the Passat. This is true on all models of the Malibu, although there are a few advanced safety features that can be added to top trims. Another popular midsize sedan would be the Toyota Camry. This option has impressive fuel economy, but does not offer as much room for either passengers or cargo.
Test driving the 2020 Volkswagen Passat should be on the "to-do" list of anyone in the market for a midsize sedan. Its standard engine is pleasing, it comes already equipped with important driver aids, and it has enough space for everyone to be comfortable. These things should help it appeal to a broad range of consumers. Although the fuel economy numbers are low and the touchscreen could use an update, neither issue seems significant enough to outweigh the many pros found here.
• Why buy a 2019 Volkswagen Passat? w/ pros vs cons