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Entry Price: $22,995

Price as tested: $30,445

This week, it’s Volkswagen’s 2018 Passat we’re testing, delivered in SE trim with a technology package as standard fare. Built by an American-based workforce in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Passat for 2018 still delivers the German-bred engineering one expects in a Volkswagen, regardless of where it’s actually built. It also features VW’s new 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder engine that puts out more power.

Volkswagen is utilizing the Passat as a midsize alternate that will soon sit alongside its all-new 2019 Arteon, a more expensive model that debuts soon at VW showrooms everywhere. Arteon will take over the discontinued Volkswagen CC’s top slot on the auto giant’s pecking order. Although Arteon will still be classified as a midsize sedan, it is indeed all-new from the ground up and nothing like the former CC or Passat. I can’t wait to get my hands on an Arteon for a test drive as the engine will also be a Turbo inline 2.0-liter four, but this time the engineers will tweak the turbo for a “bigger” fuel/air charge, resulting in 276 horsepower an anticipated run to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. (Sounds like my kind of car).  

Now back to the equally impressive Passat.

Starting at just $22,995 for the entry S model, the aforementioned new for 2018 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder replaces the 1.8-liter turbo from last year. Coupled to VW’s sport mode six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters, our tester offered very good acceleration and surprisingly good fuel mileage estimates. Specifically, even with the bigger engine our Passat offers 25 city and 36 highway EPA fuel mileage estimates, which are better than past 1.8-liter engine applications of 23 city and 34 highway.

Since we’re discussing Passat’s past and present fuel mileage, notable is that the phased out turbo 1.8-liter that propelled last year’s Passat at one time replaced a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, which delivered just 21 city and 28 highway not that long ago. We applaud Volkswagen for continually improving both the performance and fuel mileage offered by the Passat models, of which seven distinct models are available at the VW showrooms. 

Although the 2.0-liter turbo four produces just 174 horses and 184 pounds of torque, don’t discount the acceleration capabilities once the turbo kicks in when you mat the throttle. Still, if you want more power consider Volkswagen’s 280 horse, 258 torque V6 Passat line starting at $29,145 in V6 GT trim. The V6 also powers the most expensive Passat, the SEL V6 Premium that starts at $34,65.

Passat’s exterior offers solid good looks and is similar in some ways to the more expressive and aerodynamic Audi styling. Comparable to others in the VW family, most notably the Jetta, the grille still has the large VW logo while the rear deck is graceful and overall nicely done. It’s a very tastefully done design that portrays a nice touch of VW opulence in a more discreet overall package.

Inside, Passat’s cabin is well done with leatherette seating, heated front and rear seats, excellent rear seat legroom, dual zone climate control, ambient footwell and interior lighting, and a very nice gauge and dashboard layout. Notable is VW’s traditional firmer yet very comfortable seating and SE Technology models also feature wood and textured aluminum appearance interior trim, split rear seat with center armrest w/trunk pass-through, Halogen fog lights, and much more. Overall, when you select the SE Technology model, you’ll receive just about everything VW has to offer as standard fare.

Likes: More power, more MPG, better warranty, classy looks.

Dislikes: Entry S does not offer some higher tech safety options.


Auto Bits

5 tips for summer road trips

These five safety tips can help get your family ready to hit the road this summer: 

1. Check your tread: A tire’s tread depth can determine a vehicle’s safe stopping distance. You can check your tread depth by sticking a penny upside-down in a tread groove. If you can see President Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. 

2. Ensure proper tire pressure: Low tire pressure can lead to poor handling and gas mileage, excessive wear and overloading. Drivers should check their tire pressure at least once a month, and especially before any long trip. Use a dependable air gauge or stop by an automotive store like Discount Tire or America’s Tire to take advantage of complimentary air checks. 

3. Rotate often: Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 miles or earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops. 

4. Inspect your trunk: Some new vehicles no longer come equipped with a spare tire, opting instead for tire inflation kits that feature puncture coating sealants and air compressors, or even run-flat tires. Check your trunk to see what your vehicle contains and make sure you have a roadside assistance plan should the need arise.

5. Don’t overload: The combination of heat and overloading a vehicle, which can be common during summer travel, is one of the most dangerous conditions for a vehicle’s tires as overloaded tires can overheat and possibly fail.

— Family Features