The 2020 Volkswagen Passat has received a big refresh inside and out, but it’s not completely all new, which is a good and a bad thing. The Passat’s low entry price is a good thing, but even with the refresh, the 2020 Passat is still showing its age.
The 2020 Passat is still based on the same platform that arrived for the 2012 model year, which does help keep the price tag down, but we wish it was now based on the more modern MQB platform. On the outside, the 2020 Passat has restyled front and rear fascias. At the front the Passat’s new face has new headlights and a more stylish grille to give it a more sculpted and upscale look than before. The rear also gets new taillights and a nice nip and tuck to keep the Passat looking fresh. There are also new wheel designs.
Moving to the inside, the 2020 Passat’s interior features a clean layout with a lot of space, but unlike the more stylish exterior, the inside feels a bit dated. The gauge cluster looks old and the standard 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system is too small, although it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We wish the 2020 Passat was available with Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit, but since it’s not based on the MQB platform, it’s stuck with the dated analog gauges.
Even if the dashboard does get updated air vents that look like they came straight out of the more modern Arteon, the Passat’s interior suffers due to a stale looking interior with some materials that we wouldn’t expect in a VW.
Besides the dated interior, the Passat does have a lot of space with comfortable seats.
The 2020 Passat comes standard with the latest driver assistance tech features, including forward pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, a blind spot monitor and an automatic post-collision braking system. Adaptive cruise control and lane assist are available on upper trim levels. One cool new feature is the Parking Steering Assist system, which can automatically park the Passat in parallel or perpendicular parking spots. In the IIHS crash tests, the 2020 Passat received “Good” scores, but the headlights weren’t rated, which has prevented the Passat from receiving a Top Safety Pick award.
The Passat now only comes with one powertrain, a 174-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 206 lb-ft. of torque, that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The updated engine generates the same horsepower rating as before, but it now generates 22 lb-ft. more than before. Although we do welcome the extra torque, it comes at a cost, since the 2020 Passat is less fuel efficient than before.
The 2020 Passat is rated at 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, which is down 2 mpg across the board from the 2019 Passat. Both the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are more fuel efficient, since the Accord gets up to a 33 mpg combined rating and the Camry gets up to 34 mpg combined.
On the road, the four-cylinder engine spools up fast to get the Passat moving down the road with ease. In fact, the Passat’s four-cylinder engine is one of the highlights of the 2020 Passat, while the overall driving experience has you wishing for more.
Starting with the six-speed automatic, it’s down a few gears compared to the Passat’s rivals. The transmission is eager to select a higher gear for fuel efficiency, but slow to respond when you want a more spirited driving experience. The steering is too light without much feedback and the Passat’s suspension is tuned a bit too soft for our tastes. Overall the Passat will get you from point A to B comfortably, but there isn’t an ounce of fun dialed in.
The 2020 VW Passat is available in four trim levels: S, SE, R-Line and SEL. The good news is that the base Passat S starts at $22,995, which undercuts the Accord and Camry, by at least $1k.