2020 Volkswagen Passat Wagon Review: The Best Family Car?
Price & Specs8
Interior & Practicality9
Performance & Economy8.5
Ride & Handling8
Running Costs & Warranty7
What we like:
  • Good peformane and fuel economy
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay
  • Excellent practicality
What we didn't like:
  • Expensive servicing
  • No rear charging ports
  • No sunroof or electric tailgate
8.1DiscoverAuto Rating

In case you haven’t heard, SUVs are everywhere. They’re firing up the sales charts and according to many, they’re the best family cars around. But yet even five years ago, the mid-size family sedan and wagon was a significantly stronger seller globally. Yet despite SUVs everywhere, mid-sizers still exist and are better than ever. Enter the 2020 Volkswagen Passat.

For the MY20 model year, Volkswagen condensed the Passat range to a singular model, which is the 140TSI Business. While the 206TSI and 162TSI are on their way, the 140TSI is the only Passat you can walk into the showroom and buy today. Rivals for the Passat include the Mazda 6, Hyundai Sonata, Skoda Superb, Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

Price & Specs: 8.0/10

As previously mentioned the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business comes in two guises – a sedan and a station wagon. Opening up the range is the sedan which comes in at $46,590 plus on road costs. Opting for the more practical wagon adds $2,000 bringing the price to $48,590 plus on roads. For comparison the Mazda 6 in comparable spec (GT wagon) can be had for $47,290, $1,300 cheaper than the Passat.

Despite being the only variant of the Passat currently offered in Australia, the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business is decently equipped with features such as 18-inch alloy wheels (with a full size alloy spare), LED lighting and daytime running lights, leather upholstery with heated front seats, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory functionality and massaging, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. The Mazda 6 GT misses out on the tri-zone climate and wireless Apple CarPlay (you’ll need to use a cable) although it does add larger 19-inch wheels, a head-up display, auto high beam, paddle-shifters and a Bose audio system.

Unusually for a Volkswagen, there are no options for the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business, not even a sunroof or power tailgate. The only personalisation is the colour palate which consists of our test car’s ‘Pure White’ – the only no cost option – and ‘Deep Black’, ‘Aquamarine Blue’, ‘Manganese Grey’, ‘Pyrite Silver’ and ‘Reflex Silver’ all costing an additional $800.

Safety features in the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business are plentiful as you get auto emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, speed sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, fatigue warning for the driver and a system called ‘Proactive Occupant Protection’ that closes all windows and tightens the seatbelts if the car thinks an accident is imminent.

Performance & Economy: 8.5/10

Currently only one model of Passat is available in Australia – though more models are on their way. It is the familiar ‘EA888‘ 2.0-litre turbocharged unit used in a lot of Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi products. In this guise it produces 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque running through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The claimed 0-100km/h time is 8.1 seconds, which isn’t too shabby for such a large car. The Mazda 6 GT has a larger 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged engine, though the Passat feels closer in real life.

The DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) used in the Passat is quick to engage gears while moving and quick to downshift when needed but there are still the typical foibles when at lower speeds. When taking off from a standstill though, there can be a small judder or delay when setting off, which is also apparent when going from Drive to Reverse or visa versa.

The claimed average fuel economy figure provided by Volkswagen is 6.6L/100km for the wagon and 6.4L/100km for the sedan. This is helped by the start/stop system shutting the engine off at idle. It is smooth to operate and only rarely is there any interference from the engine restarting. In our week with the Passat we achieved just over 7L/100km with a mixture of urban and open road driving. For comparison sake the Mazda 6 GT’s claimed average fuel economy is 7.6L/100km – though in reality, it’s much more.

Ride & Handling: 8.0/10

The Passat has never been known for its handling but that doesn’t mean the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI is a fish out of water when shown corners. It is quite composed and dare we say fun when shown a twisty road and thanks to the long wheelbase there is a little body roll, but it is minimal. The more dynamic Mazda 6 will handle better but the Passat will still hold its own in the typical Germanic way.

Despite featuring 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, you would think the ride would be choppy or at least a bit uncomfortable but this isn’t the case with the Passat. It glides over bumps without any intrusion into the cabin. It is not crashy and seems to be quite composed even out on the open road where bumps can upset the ride quality it remains composed.

Interior & Practicality: 9.0/10

There may not be many changes to the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business’s interior compared with the pre-updated model but that is not to say that it hasn’t aged well. It is still modern and as previously mentioned, it has an aura of luxury and a premium feel to it. There are some hard plastics in the cabin, but they are also mixed with soft touch materials and lovely ‘Vienna’ leather seats.

The 8.0-inch ‘Discover Media’ centre screen is familiar to other Volkswagen products – it is easy to use and intuitive in nature with shortcut keys to the side of the screen. The inbuilt navigation system is easy to set and the map is clear and colourful so you won’t miss that turn. The rear camera which is displayed in the centre screen has a good quality picture and guidance lines, pair that with the rear AEB (auto emergency braking) and you’ll never get any parking battle scars.

The rear seat in the 2020 Volkswagen Passat is accomodating for taller passengers as there is plenty of knee and head room for anyone. There is also temperature control for the rear passengers with a set of air vents and rear sun shades. The one thing the kids might still complain at is that there are no rear charging points to be seen.

The boot in the Passat Wagon has 650-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place and with them folded, there is a whopping 1,780-litres – 144 and 132 litres larger than the Mazda6 wagon. The boot is also quite clever with storage bins to each side, a 12 volt power outlet, cargo tie down points, hooks to hang shopping on and levers to fold the rear seats down from the boot. While this is a lot of features we would still like to see a power tailgate.

Running Costs & Warranty: 7.0/10

The 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business comes with the brand’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with one-year of roadside assistance that’s topped up with every scheduled service – exactly the same term as the Mazda6, though it comes with five years of roadside assistance.

Servicing the 2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business over the course of it’s warranty period (five-years) will set buyers back a pretty hefty $2,840. You can pre-purchase a three-year ($1,300) or five-year ($2,300) service plan at the time of purchase, however. Although the Mazda 6 is cheaper to service ($2,029 over five years), depending on how many kilometres you do you could spend more time at the dealer due to the Mazda’s shorter 10,000km service intervals.

2020 Volkswagen Passat 140TSI Business DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.1/10

While sales of the Passat and its rivals have declined significantly, we’re very glad that companies such as Volkswagen offer mid-size wagons because they’re more dynamic, comfortable, spacious and better value than the SUVs that significantly outsell them.

It’s definitely not the cheapest to service, and nor is it the fastest car in the world, but the Passat is just such a likeable product that rarely puts a foot wrong. It’s excellent, and very much worthy of consideration for your next family car.

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