2013 Volkswagen Passat Review and Prices

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2011

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2013 Volkswagen Passat Buying Advice

The 2013 Volkswagen Passat is the best car for you if you like German seasoning in your all-American midsize sedan.   

The 2013 Volkswagen Passat is expected to be little-changed after undergoing a full redesign for model-year 2012. It’ll return as a handsome but conservatively styled four-door sedan that emphasizes voluminous interior space, competitive pricing, and an engine lineup that includes a 43-mpg diesel. VW enlarged the 2012 Passat to appeal to Americans’ midsize-sedan expectations. The 2013 Passat will put that approach to a stern test as it goes head-to-head with the freshest editions of the category’s top models, including the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry and the all-new 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, 2013 Ford Fusion, and 2013 Nissan Altima.

Should you wait for the 2013 Volkswagen Passat or buy a 2012 Volkswagen Passat? Buy the 2012 Passat. The 2013 model will be a virtual rerun, with any changes too minor to be worth the wait. The 2013 Passat is apt to cost a bit more than the 2012, however, thanks to annual price escalation. If you’re in a patient mood, though, waiting for the model-year changeover will let you to compare the 2013 Passat with the abovementioned crop of redesigned rivals.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Volkswagen Passat styling won’t change beyond perhaps a new color choice or two and maybe a revised wheel design. As unveiled on the redesigned 2012 model, the overall look will remain unadventurous and depend on trim details and large VW badges for its individuality. The real story will remain this car’s size: inside and out, the 2013 Passat will again be among the very largest cars in the midsize segment. A no-nonsense interior design with clean-cut looks and plenty of space for four hefty adults will remain a major selling point. 

Expect the 2012 Passat to reprise a lineup based on three basic models, each identified by its engine type and each offering multiple levels of trim and equipment. Expected to again account for about 75 percent of 2013 Passat sales will be the 2.5L model. The balance of sales will be split between the top-of-the-line 3.6L model and the diesel-powered TDI model. Beyond small trunk-lid badges, styling differences among them will again be confined principally to the 3.6L’s exclusive use of dual exhaust outlets and 18-inch alloy wheels in place of the other models’ single outlet and 16- or 17-inch wheels.

Mechanical: In a market category gravitating toward the use of four-cylinder engines across the board, the 2013 Volkswagen Passat will continue going its own way with a five-cylinder in the 2.5L model, a V-6 in the 3.6L model, and the segment’s only diesel engine in the TDI.

Expect the 2.5-liter five-cylinder to return with about the same output as rivals’ base four-cylinder engines: 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque (torque is responsible for most of the acceleration that pushes you back in your seat). The 2013 Passat 3.6L model will reprise one of the most powerful engines in the class, a 3.6-liter six that should remain unchanged at 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. And the 2013 Passat TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) will again have a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder rated at 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.

The 2013 Passat 2.5L and TDI models should again come with choice of manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, the 3.6L with the automatic only. The 2.5L and TDI engines perform similarly, though the diesel has better highway-passing response, if a slightly rougher nature. The 3.6L is smooth and very strong. VW shouldn’t do anything to the 2013 Passats that would alter their overall road manners. Expect them to remain comfortable and to continue to deliver entirely confident if not overtly sporty handling from their well-sorted front-wheel-drive chassis.

Features: The 2013 Volkswagen Passat will likely continue to come with a few surprising standard features and the usual roster of comfort and convenience items, but also to suffer a surprising lapse or two regarding expected perks.

In the first category, include dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity standard on every model. In the middle category, count availability of not one but two navigation systems (at separate price points). In the last column, note that a rearview backup camera probably will remain unavailable and that USB iPod interface most likely won’t be offered on models under $27,500 or so.

VW probably will again make all 2013 Passat models available in SE, SEL, and top-drawer SEL Premium trim levels, while reserving the entry-level S trim for 2.5L versions. Typical upgrades as you climb the ladder should again include vinyl instead of cloth upholstery on SE versions and leather in SEL Premiums. The SE trim should return with brushed-aluminum-look cabin accents, versus fake wood at the SEL level. SE-trim models also should again be available with a navigation system that uses a 5-inch dashboard screen while SEL models will continue to offer a higher-spec system with a 6.5-inch screen, plus an audio upgrade engineered by sound engineers at the Fender guitar company.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Prices back to top

Prices for the 2013 Volkswagen Passat were unannounced at the time of this review, but VW will continue to promote this sedan as a highly competitive value so expect little deviation from model-year 2012 prices. That suggests a 2013 Passat base-price range of roughly $21,500-$34,500, which would keep this American-built VW in the heart of the midsize segment. (All estimated prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee: VW’s fee for the 2012 Passat was $770.)

Estimated base-price range for the 2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.5L models is $21,500-$31,500, depending on trim level. Expect 2013 Passat TDI models to be priced from roughly $27,500-$34,000. Estimated base-price range for the 2013 Passat 3.6L series is $31,500-$34,500.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Fuel Economy back to top

Fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Volkswagen Passat were not announced in time for this review but don’t suppose they’ll stray from model-year 2012 levels. Expect fuel-economy ratings for the Passat 2.5L and 3.6L models to remain comparable with those of direct competitors while the 2013 Passat TDI diesel stays a high-mileage alternative to the few gas/electric hybrids in the class.

Expect the 2013 Passat 2.5L models to again rate 21/32 mpg city/highway with manual transmission and 22/31 with the six-speed automatic. The 2013 VW Passat 3.6L models should again rate 20/28 mpg and come only with the six-speed automatic. Look for the 2013 Passat TDI models to again rate 31/43 mpg with both manual and automatic transmission.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Release Date back to top

The 2013 Volkswagen Passat should be in showrooms by late summer or early autumn 2012. This latest–generation Passat is the first to be built in America; it’s assembled at a plant VW opened in 2011 in Tennessee and is intended for sale in North America, Mexico, and China.

What's next for the 2013 Volkswagen Passat back to top

Expect a mild styling facelift for model year 2014 or 2015, accompanied by tweaks to features availability. In the near term, VW makes it clear that it doesn’t perceive sufficient demand among potential Passat buyers to justify such features as a rearview camera, lane-departure warning, or universally available USB iPod connectivity. Don’t expect features to appear on the Passat unless VW discovers their absence is actually costing sales.

The German automaker, however, does say Passat buyers are sensitive to significant swings in fuel prices, and so it’s engineered this new-generation model to accommodate any number of high-economy engines it offers in overseas markets, including smaller displacement four-cylinder gas and diesel engines.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Competition back to top

Honda Accord: Expect the 2013 Honda Accord to be the first all-new version of this stellar car since model-year 2008. Reports suggest the return of four-door sedan and two-door coupe body styles, both with slightly smaller exterior dimensions and marginally less passenger room than the models they replace. Look for a return of four- and six-cylinder engines of roughly 190 and 280 horsepower, respectively, but with notably higher fuel economy than the outgoing editions. Accord has won a loyal following by infusing the midsize-car formula with real driving precision and the 2013 model probably will continue to lean toward athletic road manners to help distinguish it from the pack.  

Toyota Camry: The 2013 Camry should represent the second season for an all-new version that was due for model-year 2012. Camry has traditionally defended the soft-riding, quiet-driving side of the midsize segment and should continue to feature high refinement and generous interior space. Expect four- and six-cylinder engines with output comparable to their Accord counterparts, but also anticipate the return of a gas-electric hybrid model with fuel-economy in the high-30-mpg range.

Hyundai Sonata: The 2013 Sonata will carry on the look-at-me styling and innovative all-four-cylinder engine lineup that came on line with its highly successful model-year 2011 redesign. Expect naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines of roughly 200 and 274 horsepower, respectively, plus a 206-horsepower, 40-mpg gas-electric hybrid model. This midsize sedan from the fast-growing South Korean brand should continue to count solid quality, value-packed pricing, and generous warranty coverage among its assets. A minor facelift is likely for model-year 2014.

2013 Volkswagen Passat Next Steps