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The news for the Passat this year is its body. Compared to the 2019 version, the 2020 VW Passat shares only a roof panel—the rest have been redesigned.
The new Passat is incrementally longer than the outgoing version, although we’d be hard-pressed to notice any differences inside. The new Passat is also crisper and cleaner than the version it replaces, starting in front with an upright grille. We have good feelings for the exterior, but the interior is just OK. It’s a 5 for style.
A long chrome brow spans the LED headlights and grille, and creases in the hood help draw eyes toward the wide and low VW grille. The hood’s shunt lines haven’t been moved to the body sides, however, which can look a little distracting from the front.
Despite the new exterior, what’s underneath the 2020 Passat is largely the same as last year.
VW makes available just one powertrain in the Passat—a 2.0-liter turbo-4 paired exclusively to a 6-speed automatic. It’s not especially quick (although it doesn’t need to be) but the 6-speed is down a couple of gears or so compared to the industry average—and down on refinement. The Passat’s gift is a smooth ride, which is more aligned with mid-size shoppers’ priorities. It’s a wash on our performance scale.
The 2.0-liter turbo-4 that powers the Passat makes 174 hp and 206 pound-feet of torque, sent to the front wheels only. Unlike prior years, there’s no V-6 option for the Passat and no all-wheel drive.
Volkswagen says it changed all the body panels on the 2020 Passat except the roof, but the dimensions are largely the same. The Passat still rides on a 110.4-inch wheelbase, with 193.6 inches from bumper to bumper (up 1.7 inches from last year). Passengers get good room inside and there are 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. Starting from an average score of 5, the Passat gets a point above average for its cargo capacity.
The front seats are the most comfortable and best suited for long distances, although passengers who may sit in a more upright, knees-up position could bump their legs against the center console. The Passat is shod in durable cloth, reasonably soft synthetic leather, or even real hides—we’d stick with the vinyl or cloth, however. That’s because even in top trims of the Passat, there’s still plenty of grained black plastic and wood veneers that aren’t especially luxurious.
Back seat riders get good space and more than 38 inches of leg room, which is good but also less than competitors that can offer more stretch-out space.
The trunk is deep and wide, with plenty of room for multiple suitcases or multiple golf bags. Interior storage is OK, although the center armrest is pushed back far from the front passenger’s waist, which makes it hard to reach into the cubby without twisting our torsos.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.