Volkswagen definitely has a hit on its hands with the 2007 Passat Wagon. We really liked the updated styling, which was redone for 2006 (remember the boxy cars VW used to make?). The front grille and headlights both have a particularly modern appearance, and things look just as good from the inside, with a fairly simple but nicely styled interior. VW has made excellent use of the space in this car, giving both front- and backseat occupants ample room. The rear seats split 60/40 for transporting large loads, and there is a small center pass-thorough that can accommodate skis without giving up significant seating capacity. Other storage solutions include an air-conditioned glove box and front-door pockets with space for bottles up to 1.5 liters. The stereo with optional in-dash six-disc MP3 CD changer and satellite XM is beautifully simple to operate and sounds good apart from a little bass distortion--it's just a shame the unit doesn't offer a way to plug in iPods or other portable MP3 devices.
With 200 ponies under the hood, the Passat has power and quite a bit of punch--especially in Sport mode. Despite this, acceleration is a touch slow until the Passat gets up to around 3,000rpm. The car behaves well on the road but won't win any handling competitions. Safety systems include ABS brakes, a variety of air bags, and active front head restraints. Including the destination charge ($630) and the CD changer/XM Satellite Radio/sunroof package, our test car rang in at $28,430.
Over the past couple of years, Volkswagen has moved away the box-on-wheels look that was nearly synonymous with its brand, instead giving its new models a much more rounded and stylish profile. While the Jetta was restyled for 2005, the Passat had to wait a year for its face-lift. From the mirrored finish of the front bumper to the swooping roofline, we couldn't find fault with the styling of our 2007 Passat Wagon 2.0L, although if pushed, we might say that the standard wheels are a bit small. The front nose treatment will obviously receive the majority of the attention, and it's a shame that some people will be forced to cover that gleaming bumper with a license plate. Our other favorite design cues were the gorgeous headlights and the trendy look of the side windows, which narrow from front to rear. The Passat Wagon is available in four basic model types, starting with the value edition ($25,225), which is available with only six paint colors and a black interior and comes without satellite radio or the Luxury or Cold Weather package options. Stepping up the line, the Passat Wagon 2.0T ($26,175 base price) keeps the same 2-liter, 200-horsepower turbo engine found in the value edition but adds a 10-way partial power-adjustable seat as standard, as well as number of other options. These include more color choices (both interior and exterior), stereo upgrades, a navigation system, a power sunroof, heated front seats, and multifunction steering wheel. The Passat Wagon 3.6L begins at $31,350 and has a 3.6-liter normally aspirated engine and a few more options, including a HomeLink transmitter built into the sun visor. The top-of-the-range model is the 3.6L 4Motion ($33,100) which adds all-wheel drive to the 3.6L and qualifies for Lev1 California emissions. Our test vehicle was a 2.0T with Tiptronic transmission and the upgraded stereo/power sunroof package that adds a six-disc in-dash changer and XM Satellite Radio to the basic system at a cost of $1,625.
We were much happier with the Passat Wagon's interior than we were with the Jetta's, mainly thanks to cleaner, more modern styling. The two-tier dashboard, imitation carbon-fiber dash, and nicely styled driver armrest all make for a good-looking cabin that succeeds by not pretending to come from a Lexus or a Jaguar. Even the radio looks better in the Passat than it did in the '05 Jetta, even though it's the same unit.
The 2007 Passat Wagon's imitation two-tier carbon-fiber dash is one of the car's stylish interior design elements.
Our test car's gray leatherette front seats were quite comfortable, but more shoulder support and a slightly wider seat back would have been welcome. Another gripe is that A/C unit lacked power; though it's noisy, it failed to keep the car cool on an 80-degree spring day. If you can bear to turn off the underperforming A/C and close the windows, the car is very quiet, registering just 65dB on the freeway.
We were disappointed that out test car didn't come equipped with some of the optional cabin technology. We would like to have tried out the navigation system and put the premium 600-watt 10-speaker Dynaudio stereo through its paces.
Nevertheless, our test car's basic 8-speaker stereo wasn't a bad unit. With the volume up high, the system delivers a fairly clean bass but sustained low-frequency sounds become distorted and buzzy. All of the basic controls were right at our fingertips, with only a few features--such as speed-sensitive volume settings--hidden behind menus. The bass, mid, and treble channels, as well as balance and fade, are controlled by small knobs below the display, and each input source (satellite radio, AM, FM, and CD) has its own button.
Navigating MP3 folders and XM satellite categories was easy with the use of a large folder/category rocker switch and a similar rocker for seek/track functions directly below. The system displayed ID3 information, such as artist and track, on the gray-on-black display, which can be a bit difficult to see in direct sun. Audio information can also be viewed on the center multifunction display, but we preferred to use that for vehicle information such as fuel economy and range.
The optional six-disc in-dash CD changer supports MP3 playback and provides detailed ID3 information as well as folder navigation controls.
Volkswagen offers no Bluetooth cell phone compatibility with the 2007 Passat Wagon for the American market. It will be cold comfort to U.S. buyers, but in Europe and Asia, the car will ship with the option of a Bluetooth car phone kit that uses the new SIM Access Profile. This system allow the car to temporarily "borrow" the SIM card from your cell phone, allowing the onboard phone interface to use an external GSM antenna. In the United States, only T-Mobile and Cingular use the GSM standard (that is, those with SIM cards), possibly explaining why the system isn't available here. Still we feel that VW seems to be ignoring the North American market by not offering a Bluetooth option that will work with the majority of America's Bluetooth-enabled cell phones.
Another conspicuous tech omission is lack of an auxiliary input jack. Considering VW's popularity among younger buyers, we are very surprised--and disappointed--that there is no way to hook up our iPod.
What we really impressed us on the Passat, however, was the amount of space, both up front and in the rear. Even with the sloping roofline, headroom was plentiful, and there is more than enough cargo space for a family vacation as long as no one overpacks. Other features that add to the Passat's high-utility image include a range of storage bins (such as a huge map pocket/drink bottle holder in the front doors), an air-conditioned glove box, 60/40 folding rear seat with center pass-though, and a full-size spare tire.
Our only other token issue is with the power liftgate; while nice to have, it seems extravagant for such a small car. VW would have been better off spending the money on a A/C system, making the sunroof standard, or even lowering the price of the car.
While nice to have, the Passat Wagon's power liftgate is extravagant for such a small car.
The 2007 Passat Wagon 2.0T certainly has plenty of zip, thanks to the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with a direct-injection fuel-delivery system. With 200 horsepower on tap, Volkswagen claims the wagon achieves 60mph in a respectable 7.4 seconds. As with most small-displacement, turbocharged engines, low-end power isn't the car's strong suit. On dry asphalt, we had difficulty getting the tires to make much noise from a standing start (even in Sport and manual modes), although they chirped if we put the power down while accelerating around a corner from a standstill. Torque steer was also an issue, especially when we put our foot down at freeway speeds.
The 2007 Volkswagen Passat Wagon comes with the option of a 2.0- or 3.6-liter engine.
This is a car with split personalities. When we had the Tiptronic in Drive mode, the Passat was a fairly boring, sedate ride, but when we dropped it into Sport mode, it came alive and was much more fun, zipping in and out of traffic with ease. At full throttle, Sport mode shifts gears about 1,000rpm higher than when in Drive mode and maintains a higher rev band when cruising, so power is immediately on hand. After a while, we found ourselves spending most of our time in Drive mode, but we knocked it into Sport when we anticipated a need for a performance boost, such as merging with freeway traffic or changing lanes. The manual mode is the "push to upshift pull to downshift" variety, so we didn't spend a lot of time with it, especially since it didn't seem to improve performance over Sport mode.
Slotting the shifter into Sport mode increases performance by providing an additional 1,000rpm in each gear.
The Passat's front suspension is a MacPherson setup, while the rear has a fully independent four-link system. Aside from the problem with torque steer, the Passat's freeway manners are excellent, with no ambiguity in the steering wheel and no hint of bump steer. Handling was adequate, and the front wheels pulled the car fairly well around the corner, but we didn't push things too hard. This car is zippy, but it isn't meant for seriously tossing around on the back roads.
EPA fuel economy is rated at 22mpg (city) and 31mpg (highway). Our overall economy was 17.7mpg with a heavy bias toward city driving and liberal use of the right foot, but on fairly flat freeway segments, we observed between 26mpg and 28mpg.
Safety features on the Passat Wagon include active front head restraints, advanced front air bags, front-occupant supplemental side air bags, and side-curtain air bags. Rear side air bags are available as a $350 option. ABS brakes and a brake-wiping feature that keeps the brakes clean and dry are also standard. There is a hill-hold button that prevents rollback on hill starts. Front headlamp washers are available as an option.
In government crash tests, the Passat sedan (there is not yet any information on the 2007 wagon) earned four stars for rollovers, as well as for driver and passenger front collisions, five stars for front seat side collisions, and four stars for rear seat side collisions.
The 2007 Passat Wagon is protected by a 4-year/50,000-mile vehicle warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile power train warranty, and a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion perforation warranty.