Anthony's Analysis: 2021 Volkswagen Passat R Line


Automakers must try to make their midsize sedans appealing. Some vehicles have new, swooping style like the Hyundai Sonata, while others like Honda and Toyota are still class-leading. SUVs may be dominating and killing off sedans, but some automakers are brave enough to keep at the sedan game. One of these automakers trying to keep the sedan alive is Volkswagen. They have two sedans, the new Jetta and the updated Passat. Right now, we are going to take a look at the Passat and see if it’s good enough to keep sedans alive.

Fun fact: the Passat in the United States is different than the European Passat. They're so different that the only similarities can be found on the exterior. The Passat's exterior isn’t ugly and Volkswagen tried to spruce it up with the R Line trim. It’s more of an appearance package with 19” wheels which I liked. The front starts the trend of the Passat being quite the boring car it is. When you park the Passat, it just blends in. It’s really nothing special.

Inside, the Passat feels old. There are so many features the top-of-the-line Passat R Line doesn’t have that I was surprised. In front of the driver are old analog dials that look like they came from a 2015 model. Steering wheel controls are also a little old, but at least they’re physical buttons. The infotainment system is also a bit outdated, but it works all right. Navigation wasn’t available but I used Apple CarPlay that 90% of the time worked. Lower down, you’ll see only heated seats. Going to the gear selector, Volkswagen did something that’s just weird. There are black blank spaces that would normally be buttons in other models.

Now for the seats. They broke me. I’m not kidding, I was taking a turn and my back just gave out. Part of the reason is that the seats are so flat, even a passenger a day prior complained to me about how un-supportive the Passat’s seats are. When you look for soft-touch materials, you won’t find too much. There are too many scratchy plastics to even think this car can be over $30,000. I want to show a few positive features, and the Passat’s size helps. The also un-supportive rear seats have a lot of room, as is the absolutely massive trunk.

Behind the wheel, you get an odd combination in the drivetrain. All Passats come with one engine and transmission, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, which makes 174-horsepower, and a very old six-speed automatic transmission. I really don’t understand how this engine makes so little horsepower, or why the Passat uses a transmission that’s probably five years old if not more. Since this is what the Passat gets, it isn’t a surprise that 0-60 MPG takes a very slow 8.3-seconds. While driving, the automatic can be quite jerky when you’re driving. I received between 24-25 MPG, mainly because I gave up trying to have it feel sporty.

The Passat isn’t created to be sporty. It’s supposed to be a decent cruiser which it does all right. Once again, nothing special, and definitely not up-to-par with almost every other vehicle in its class. What is nice is that the Passat gets all of Volkswagen’s safety technology which includes blind-sport-monitoring and adaptive cruise control. They act the same as my 2016 Golf GTI so I know that the systems work quite well. There's also a unique remote-start system that shuts off once you unlock the door, basically negating the use of the feature. Unlike most vehicles today, you don’t get different driving modes. Instead, you can put the transmission into sport, which once again, is just old-fashioned.

That’s what the Passat is. It’s old-fashioned. The technology feels old, the drivetrain feels old, and the interior is quite cheap. The price of this model is around $32,000 and you’d be crazy to buy one for that money. Thankfully, looking on, you can find a Passat R Line for at least $5,000 less if not more. When the Passat becomes a $25,000 car, it starts to make more sense. It has average tech for the average driver and is a larger sedan. Can I recommend it? No. $32,000 gets you the incredible Hyundai Sonata N Line which has more features, looks significantly better, and has over 100-horsepower more.

I guess you can say that I’m disappointed in the Passat. It used to have the option of having a V6, all-wheel-drive and was at least a decent option. Like I said, Europe has a completely different version which is more expensive but is probably worth it. Our American Passat may be in trouble, just because Volkswagen could pull it for another SUV or try to get people into the suave Arteon. Listen, Volkswagen can make some great cars, but the Passat has fallen behind. I would be surprised if there is a next-generation Passat for the United States.  I’d test drive any other midsize sedan before looking at the Passat R Line.


                                                               Some Nerdalicious Stats


2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4

Power: 174-horsepower

Torque:  206 lb-ft

0-60 MPH

8.3 seconds

Not acceptable

Top Speed

116 MPH

It’ll take a long time for this.


         6-speed automatic

Oh, that’s old.


Around $31,000

Not enough features for that price.



The Passat doesn’t make enough power for all-wheel-drive.

Did I like it?

No, it broke my back! It’s also bottom of the class and cheap.




  1. Comfortable seats are so important. Thanks for the article.

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