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2012 Volkswagen Passat 3.6L SEL Review

Well-Built Family Sedan

A three-quarter front view of a Volkswagen Passat 3.6L SEL

In short: A powerful and refined full-size sedan.

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee and designed specifically for the American market, the all-new Passat is yet another step in Volkswagen's quest to become the number one automobile manufacturer in the world. This no-nonsense, large family sedan is reminiscent of American cruisers with its drivability and ease of use. VW has kept more serious car enthusiasts content with two different motors — a peppy inline 5-cylinder and a 3.6-liter VR6 that provides ample power. Volkswagen's DSG transmission offers different driving modes meant to match the moods and demands of owners. While we hate to complain, we found the "Sport" setting extremely aggressive, making us want to upshift manually before the computer could.

Our SEL trim level tester came fitted with a DVD player and navigation system, along with keyless entry and a 400-watt Fender Premium Sound System with built-in tweeters along the Riva line above the dash. The cabin is quite comfortable, and offers plenty of room even for rear passengers, although we would have enjoyed a sunroof, as well. That aside, however, we found the Volkswagen Passat 3.6L SEL to be an all-around pleasing family car with plenty of pep for parents in a rush.

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Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty; 12-year/unlimited mile limited warranty against corrosion perforation; 3-year/36,000-mile 24-hour roadside assistance; 3-year/36,000-mile Carefree Maintenance.

Base Price: $28,995 / As Tested: $33,720

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 3.6-liter VR6 engine with FSI
Horsepower: 280 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque:258 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting

Curb weight:
3,446 lbs
Wheelbase: 110.4 in
Length/Width/Height: 191.6/72.2/58.5 in
Turning circle: 36.4 ft

front vented disc brakes; rear solid disc brakes; ABS with electronic brake pressure distribution and brake assist
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; four-link independent rear

Traction: electronic stabilization control

Top Speed: 130 mph (governor limited)
0-60 mph: 6.4 seconds

EPA City:
20 mpg
EPA Highway: 28 mpg

intelligent crash response system

Likes: cabin space is good, especially in back; large trunk; performance from V6 engine

Dislikes: not-too-exciting design; wind noise above exterior rear view mirrors


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Photography: AlphaMedia

PNW120911 (Updated: 12/20/11 NW)