2007 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T wagon
2007 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T wagon; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase

As Volkswagen’s mid-sized sedan, the Passat has long been positioned, at least in Volkswagen’s eyes, as an upscale alternative to more common family cars from Japan, Korea and North America. There’s little doubt the Passat offers a more satisfying driving experience to those drivers who demand it, but this comes at a price: when the fifth-generation Passat (code-named, confusingly, B6) arrived for 2006, its starting price was just shy of $30,000, when entry-level versions of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry could be had at an MSRP of less than $25,000, and there were many competitive cars that came with even lower price-tags.

There was some value in that higher price, though. The Passat’s base engine was VW’s sweet turbocharged 2.0T four-cylinder motor, one that by the time 2006 rolled in, was known for punching above its power ratings, feeling stronger than its 200 hp/207 lb.-ft. of torque looked on paper. The option was a 3.6-litre V6 that made 280 hp and 265 lb.-ft. Both were ahead of the curve in using direct fuel injection, a technology that wouldn’t become common in other family cars for another few years.

2007 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T wagon
2007 Volkswagen Passat 2.0T wagon; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

The four-cylinder could be ordered with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, and the V6 was automatic-only. VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system (built by Haldex of Sweden) was offered in six-cylinder cars starting late in the 2006 model year.

The 2006 model was sold in sedan form only; the station wagon rejoined the line-up in 2007.

The six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive were made a package deal in 2008, and bi-Xenon steerable headlights were made available that year, too.

The gorgeous four-seat Passat CC – a four-door “coupe” – joined the line-up in 2009 and could be had with either drive-train (four-cylinder/FWD or six-cylinder/AWD). Meanwhile, the V6/all-wheel drive option was dropped from the regular sedan.

In 2010, the six-speed automatic option was replaced in four-cylinder models with VW’s sequential Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automated manual transmission. The 2011 line-up was pared down to the CC model, as VW prepared for the arrival of an all-new 2012 Passat sedan.

2009 Volkswagen Passat CC
2006 Volkswagen Passat
Top: 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC, by Jil McIntosh; bottom: 2006 Volkswagen Passat sedan. Click image to enlarge

Despite its higher-than-average power output, the Passat’s 2.0T four-cylinder boasts thrifty fuel consumption figures: 10 and 6.7 L/100 km in Natural Resources Canada’s city and highway test cycles, respectively, with the manual transmission and 10.8/7.1 L/100 km with the automatic. The 2010 2.0T model with the DSG transmission was even a little thriftier, at 9.6/6.6 L/100 km. The V6 was thirstier, of course, with ratings of 12.4/7.7 L/100 km in front-wheel drive form and 12.8/8.3 with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

The Passat wouldn’t be a Volkswagen without a litany of reliability concerns, and the B6 doesn’t disappoint; there are even a handful of new problems, compared to the previous generation, to make life more exciting for used Passat owners.

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