Sedans

2020 Volkswagen Passat refresh focuses on style

It looks different, but it’s nearly the same underneath.

Steven Pham/Roadshow

We last saw a new Volkswagen Passat eight years ago, a relative eternity in the automotive world. On Monday at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, VW introduces a heavy refresh of its midsize sedan. I refrain from saying "all-new," simply because, aside from its updated design, the Passat's powertrain and technology remain largely unchanged.

A new grille dominates the 2020 Volkswagen Passat's front fascia.

Volkswagen

The 2020 Passat has a more rakish roofline and the grille is wider, with slimmer LED headlamps. The LED taillights are reshaped as well, and Volkswagen has added quad exhaust tips. While 17-inch wheels are standard, drivers can move up to 18- or 19-inch wheels, depending on model.

The Passat has always had plenty of interior room, and thankfully, that hasn't changed. V-Tex leatherette or Nappa leather are both available and the interior comes in your choice of four colors. Heated front and rear seats are available, as well.

As with the 2019 model, the Passat comes standard with forward collision warning and emergency braking, now with a new pedestrian monitoring system. Also standard is blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic alert, but adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are both optional. A new Parking Steering Assist can automatically guide the Passat into a tricky parallel or perpendicular parking spot.

Volkswagen's aging MIB II infotainment system comes on a new glass-covered touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard and a premium Fender stereo system is available. Unfortunately, because the Passat doesn't move to Volkswagen's scalable MQB platform, you can't have it with the company's excellent Digital Cockpit gauge display.

The Passat's interior remains as roomy as it ever was.

Volkswagen

The Passat will still be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, good for 174 horsepower. The good news is that a new torque converter and tuning ups the torque from 184 to 207 pound-feet of twist for 2020. The Passat puts power to the front wheels only, with a six-speed automatic transmission. When much of the competition sports an eight-speed transmission -- heck, even the company's own Jetta compact sedan has eight gears -- the choice to not upgrade the gearbox is curious.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but the 2020 Volkswagen Passat will be available in the summer of 2019. 

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