The 2018 Passat GT is an uninspired blend of a decent family sedan and a desire to compete as a performance car. If you would like to own one you’ll have to hunt the dealer lots for the 2018 model as it will not be offered for 2019. (according to the VW USA website).
The high point of the VW Passat GT appeal is the price. At $29,995 it is the least expensive V6 offered in a midsize sedan. The price is firm; there are no options available at this trim level. Even though the GT does not carry over to next year the replacement performance model, the SE R-Line continues the same price point and lack of options. It also comes with a 2 liter turbocharged engine pushing 100 horsepower less.
The Passat hasn’t seen a major styling update in over six years,
a very long time in this extremely competitive mid size class. That said, the Passat is a fully functional, very comfortable family sedan, and with the GT package you can even claim a bit of performance. The 280 horsepower V6 hits it peak power at only 2500 rpm producing a very responsive throttle and often unintended front wheel chirping.
The Dual Clutch 6 speed automatic transmission gives positive shifts, but they seem too soon on mild acceleration and downshifts are hard to get on light gas pedal increases. The GT sport mode allows the use of paddle shifters and the driver can take control of all shift points.
In addition to the powerful V6 the GT trim brings an upgraded suspension that is lowered about a half inch with firmer tuning on the springs and dampers to stiffen the ride a bit and 19 inch wheels. Unfortunately the upgrades fall short of true performance tuning, still allowing too much body roll on corners. The Passat GT retains much of the smooth ride and passenger comfort of other Passat trims with very good seat padding, mild bolstering and lots of interior room.
Styling upgrades for the GT include red trim surrounding the grille, 19 inch wheels, contrasting stitching on the seats, faux carbon fiber interior trim and a throatier exhust note.
The cabin is spacious, front and rear. The low roof profile doesn’t take away much headroom and even tall passengers can sit without mussing their hair. This is partly achieved by the dropped floor and results in a substantial sill height that can make it difficult to exit the car, especially in the rear. Rear leg room is the best in class with over 39 inches and shoulder room will accommodate three adults.
Ride quality is better than most GT optioned vehicles, remaining more a family sedan than a sports car. Long haul seat comfort is very good even after 4 hours behind the wheel. The roomy cabin allows for a lot of moving around in the seat eliminating some of the fatigue of traveling. Rear ride quality is almost as good with little jarring and transferred shock from the suspension.
Technology is almost as out of date as the design of the Passat.
Sadly lacking are adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic alerts. These features are common either as standard equipment or optionally on every other car in this class. The good news is they are offered on the 2019 models. Infotainment falls behind too, with a smallish 6.3 inch screen that is mounted too low in the center stack. Navigation mapping is good, Bluetooth works well and the display is clear and glare free. As with most cars today the voice controls leave much to be desired. The saving feature on infotainment is the standard Apple Car Play and Android Auto. VW offers a very nice digital dash on many of their cars but it is missing on the 2018 Passat GT.
Performance tests done by other reviewers such as Motor Trend and Car and Driver demonstrate that the Passat GT performs on par with its class rivals, but no better. Braking is acceptable, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is an unremarkable 5.9 seconds. Fuel economy is a huge factor for many buying mid size sedans and the Passat GT does no better than ok in this area. The 18 city and 29 highway ratings fall substantially behind the 4 cylinder trims from VW and other makers.
The 2018 VW Passat GT is a comfortable, roomy, and functional sedan with a taste of performance that lacks the styling or road handling to be anything more than an also ran in the midsize class.
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