Although the timing arguably could have been better, Volkswagen of America proceeded with the planned debut of the restyled 2016 Volkswagen Passat in New York on Monday. The midsize sedan, built in Volkswagen’s LEED Platinum-certified factory in Chattanooga, will offer three engine options—1.8-liter TSI gasoline; 2.0-liter diesel TDI; and 3.6-liter gasoline VR6—as well as a strong suite of new connectivity and driver assistance features. (The European market Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (earlier post) is not slated to come to the US yet.)
Although the emissions control calibration of the applications of the 2.0 TDI in earlier models in the US is at the core of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/California Air Resources Board (ARB) charges against Volkswagen (earlier post), both agencies are now testing all the 2016 model year Passat models for certificates of conformity, Volkswagen said.
(As outlined in EPA’s Notice of Violation (NOV) to Volkswagen, EPA and ARB said they would not approve certificates of conformity for VW’s 2016 model year diesels until Volkswagen could explain the anomalous real-world emissions from earlier models and “ensure the agencies that the 2016 model year vehicles would not have similar issues.” This led to Volkswagen’s admission that it had designed and installed the software defeat device, according to the NOV. This in turn opened the door to the MY 2016 conformance testing.)
Powertrains. The 2016 Passat is planned to be available in the United States with three powertrains: the 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI four cylinder; 2.0-liter TDI; and the 3.6-liter VR6 engine, which makes 280 hp (209 kW)—one of the highest outputs in the midsize sedan class. The 2016 Passat 1.8T has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating of 38 mpg (6.18 l/100 km) with the automatic transmission.
Full pricing for the new 2016 Passat will be available closer to launch later this year, but the 1.8T S model starts at $22,440—the same price as the previous base model when equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.
MIB II. The 2016 Passat features Volkswagen’s second-generation “modular infotainment platform”, also known as MIB II. The system features touchscreens as standard equipment on all models. On most models, the display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor (similar to smartphone and tablet technology) enabling gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming rather than the resistive touchscreens that require pressure and have slightly longer response times.
Most MIB II units also feature a proximity sensor, which detects when a hand is nearby and automatically switches its display to allow easier selection of specific features. USB and Bluetooth connectivity are standard on all 2016 Passat models.
The MIB II system also serves as the foundation for the available Volkswagen Car-Net system—a comprehensive suite of connected vehicle services and features. VW Car-Net includes App-Connect technology, featuring the three major smartphone integration platforms—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. This allows seamless integration with the vast majority of smartphones available today.
Driver assistance. Volkswagen also offers a combination of new safety and driver assistance systems in the 2016 Passat. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, standard on all 2016 Passat models, builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—which can cause additional collisions. The system helps address this by applying the brakes after a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping to reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, reduce the chance of additional damage.
Depending on trim level, Passat models come equipped with the following advanced driver assistance systems: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert; Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), which actively steers the car back into its lane; and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist). All 2016 Passat models have rearview cameras as standard equipment.
Styling. he 2016 Passat features more aggressive styling than its predecessor, with a new hood, front fenders, grille, front and rear bumpers, trunklid and available LED headlights and taillights. The only sheetmetal that remains unchanged is the roof, the doors, and the body side stamping.
Slimmer headlights, a more substantial four-bar grille, and the muscular, domed hood all work together to give the Passat a wider, more planted stance from the front. At the back, the new car has a premium European-style flush rear license plate area. Additionally, a new chrome strip on the trunk makes the rear lights appear lower, enhancing the grounded appearance, while chrome on the window surrounds, bumpers, and door trim adds to the premium nature of the design. Available on all trim lines, LED headlights and taillights provide better lighting performance with reduced energy consumption.
For the first time, Volkswagen is offering an R-Line version of the Passat. This sporty model features unique rocker panels, a stylized front bumper with contrasting black accents, a modified rear diffuser, and 19” anthracite Salvador aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 235/40 ZR rated tires.
Inside, a new instrument panel features two large gauges and the center stack incorporates the MIB II infotainment system. The interior also features upgraded materials, a new steering wheel and column stalk design, two-tone décor panels, and refined chrome and piano black trim. Heatable rear seats are a new available feature, along with Easy-Open keyless access that opens the trunk via moving a foot near the rear of the vehicle.