Concern: The new Passat is a top-notch competitor against everything in the mid-size family sedan class -- the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry, among the currently popular contenders. But here's hoping that Volkswagen's service acumen is now as high as the company's product quality. It would be a pity if VW ruined the new Passat's sales with poor treatment of its owners in the repair bays.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Top marks in all three categories. That means excellent handling in tight corners, excellent acceleration in highway lane changes -- in short, about as much fun as you can expect from a four-cylinder family sedan.
Head-turning-quotient: Rich, stately . . . with a hint of wild child evident in its heavily chromed lower grille.
Body style/layout: The 2006 Passat 2.0T is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, mid-size family sedan with a traditional notchback trunk. The new Passat line also has a new, more powerful all-wheel-drive offering in the Passat 3.6 4Motion. A new Passat wagon will be released in spring 2006.
Engine: The Passat 2.0T is equipped with a turbocharged two-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder engine that develops 200 horsepower at 5,100 revolutions per minute and 207 foot-pounds of torque at 1,800 rpm. The engine can be linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed automatic that also can be shifted manually.
Capacities: The Passat 2.0T has seating for five people. Maximum luggage capacity is 14.2 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 18.5 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: We averaged 30 miles per gallon in mostly highway driving.
Safety: Rigid body construction; standard side air bags for front passengers; front and rear head bags; four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear designed to quickly shed water for improved wet-road stopping).
Price: Base price on the tested 2006 Passat 2.0T with automatic transmission is $24,975. Dealer's base price is $23,058. Price as tested is $28,415, including $2,825 in options and a $615 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $26,254.
Purse-strings note: It's a buy, but you can bargain. Lots of competitors.