The 2017 VW Passat R-Line is a pretty good looking car coming standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and side mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-way power driver seat, leatherette upholstery and a 6.3-inch touch screen. It does make a decent alternative to buying such mainstream cars as the Camry or the Accord.
Only two engines are available for the 2017 Passat: a 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter VR6. Sadly they had taken the V6 off the fleet a week before so the 1.8 was our only option. That said it’s a pretty good one, the 1.8-liter gasoline engine delivers 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which doesn’t sound great but this little mill has more than enough power for most situations. This is also the motor we expect most buyers to purchase. For those that require more oomph the 280 hp/258 lb-ft VR6 is available.
First impressions of the smaller engine are that it’s very good indeed, with plenty of pulling power and a well mated automatic transmission. Its a very smooth engine and there’s never a moment where you really need more power. You won’t win many drag races though, with 0-60 coming up in 7.7 seconds. Once moving is where the car feels at its best, torque comes on strong at 3,000 rpm and freeway passing is simple thanks to almost no turbo lag.
This is all thanks to VW keeping the weight down in this four-cylinder Passat. Weighing in at 3,263 lbs, it’s slightly lighter the four-cylinder Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. This engine feels punchy, loves to rev and dare I say it, fun as well. It feels lighter on its feet than its size suggests and the engine never sounds strained regardless of much you rev it.
On the Road
On the road the steering is well weighted and the car feels composed and planted in bends. We attacked a couple of sharp turns too fast and the car stayed its course, albeit with plenty of body roll, which helps make the car very comfortable and poised, the suspension soaking up all but the worst potholes. Even though the Passat glides over bumps it never feels too floaty or disconnected from the road. Steering is accurate and well-weighted, but like many others in the class, it doesn’t offer as much feedback as we would want.
I challenged a couple of staffers to guess the sticker price of this car once they were seated inside, and both gave me numbers North of $35K, and were quite shocked when I told them the actual price was $just North of 25K. One commented that they would buy this over a Camry, the other said they thought VWs are usually expensive.
Once inside the biggest change apart from the freshened up design, is the all new MIB II infotainment system that allows iPhone and Android pairing and uses a touchscreen that permits the swiping and pinching motions used on the phones themselves. We found it simple to use and fuss free. Front seats could use a tad more support, however back seat occupants get more room that ever, easily fitting a 6 footer even with the front seats all the way back. The steering wheel is redesigned was a bit thin for some tastes, but the “GTI-inspired” instrument panel looks great. The new cabin gives every appearance of having been made with higher quality materials, and this is a good thing.
We were very impressed with the fuel economy, this car just sips fuel. Normally after a few days our complimentary tank of fuel has run out, but not on this car. We average 31 mpg during the time we had it and according to the EPA you could get 38 mpg on a trip to Vegas. Remarkable.
Our time with 2017 Passat R-Line Passat was more fun than we expected, yes it’s supremely easy to drive, feels far more expensive than it is and uses so little fuel you could be excused for thinking it has a diesel engine. It’s also remarkable value, our tester coming in at $25,890 which included the R-Line Lighting Package, LED Headlights and Tail lights. If you are looking for an alternative to the mainstream Camry and Accord, this is a great pick.
2017 VW Passat 1.8T SE Specifications
BASE PRICE: $23,975
AS TESTED PRICE: $25,890
DRIVETRAIN: 1.8-liter turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed automatic
POWER: 170 hp @ 6200 rpm
TORQUE: 184 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 3,263 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.7 secs
FUEL ECONOMY:25/38/29(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 31 mpg