Updated May 1st 2007
by Chris Chase

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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Has it really been nine weeks already?

It was that long ago that Volkswagen of Canada offered us a Passat wagon for a medium term test drive. This, in response to the cacophony of forum opinion when we tested the $52,000, V6 4-Motion Passat Wagon back in February.

www.Autos.ca Assistant Editor Jil McIntosh also noted the high price of the 2.0T, four-cylinder version of the car she reviewed in early March. Indeed, forum responses criticized not only the cars, but also the pricing, and the Volkswagen brand itself.

Compared with our medium-term car, Jil’s tester added about $10,000 worth of luxury options. The car we’re saying goodbye to was equipped with fewer niceties, and hence, was less-expensive : Volkswagen’s way of saying, “See? Not all Passats are expensive, but they’re all nice.�?

Okay, I’ll give them the nice part. This was a very comfortable car despite the substitution of the plain old Luxury Package ($2,670) for the $5,280 Leather Luxury Package that Jil’s car had (non-leather cars get leatherette-covered seats). Ours also lacked the $450 rear side airbags and $1,600 adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, but like Jil’s, had a six-speed automatic transmission that costs $1,400.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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Altogether, it added up to a bottom line of $37,380 including freight. For this price, you must go without automatic climate control (I didn’t really miss it) and steering-wheel audio controls (I missed these a little, but the radio controls aren’t that far of a reach for the driver). The Luxury Package brings a power sunroof, alloy wheels and HomeLink garage door controls.

You can do even better than that, though, if you’re willing to give up some more nice-to-haves. Our tester was badged as a 2.0T model; but there’s also a “base�? Passat wagon that makes do without the 2.0T model’s Convenience Package (six-CD changer, map lights and lighted visors and footwells, a cargo net, chrome exterior trim and a radio antenna integrated into the rear window) and the useful power liftgate for $31,425 with a manual transmission.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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That car, plus $450 for rear-seat curtain airbags, would be my personal choice. Sure, I could get more features elsewhere, but $32,590 for a spacious European wagon that’s fun-to-drive and still has heated front seats (one extra that is important to my admittedly cheap backside) is an acceptable price in my opinion.

The last weekend we had the car in our fleet, I road-tripped the car to Boston. From my home in Ottawa. This is a 700 km drive that takes you through all kinds of traffic situations: the Interstates in Vermont and New Hampshire are practically deserted, but the highways through Montreal and in Boston can be nightmarish.

In all conditions, the Passat proved to be a terrific road trip car. The seats are comfortable, leg- and headroom are decent front and rear, and the cargo area is very accommodating. True, the turbocharged four’s 200-horsepower is less than most V6 engines these days, but the low torque peak and smooth power curve – 207 lb-ft comes on line at 1,800 rpm and doesn’t trail off until 5,000 rpm – makes for a very strong powerplant. It’s also smooth and returns good fuel economy: our tester averaged about 8 L/100 km over the entire Boston trip (most of the distance was covered at speeds ranging from 110-120 km/h). My only knock against the engine is its premium-grade fuel requirement, but this is pretty much de rigueur in turbocharged cars, even where the aim isn’t outright performance.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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The only problem we had with the car wound up being minor. We left it parked during our stay in Boston; when I went to unlock it to pack up and head out, the car wouldn’t respond to the key fob buttons. Out comes the emergency key (stashed inside the fob) and off comes the cover hiding the driver’s door lock cylinder (part of the outside door handle); I unlocked the car the old fashioned way, setting off the alarm in the process. Thankfully, shoving the fob into its slot on the dash shut it up and we were in business.

The problem with the Passat isn’t the price of the car; it’s the cost of the options. Volkswagen made its name in North America selling basic-but-solid cars that were practical and fun to drive. Maybe they need to get back to that and leave the luxury to Audi.

Updated April 16th 2007
by Paul Williams

On the road with the 2007 Passat Wagon

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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There’s no doubt that this Passat is a pleasant vehicle to drive, and as a wagon, it’s practical, too. In a way, the Passat, although completely modern, is something of a hold-out when compared with current trends. Unlike the big Chrysler Pacifica which towers over traffic, or smaller vehicles like the Toyota Matrix or Dodge Caliber, the sensibly mid-sized Passat rides low to the ground. In this, it’s a contrarian.

Open the door, enter the Passat, and you’ll drop into the sporty seat, stabilized by prominent side bolsters, your left foot on a big dead-pedal. It’s the familiar feel of a performance-oriented vehicle – low centre of gravity, firm and supportive bucket seat, legible instruments – compared with the “tall wagon�? crossover that’s coming to dominate the marketplace.

The benefits of this configuration are superior and more immediate handling, a feeling of pace when you drive, and a generally more stable feel on the road. This is why I like sports cars and sporty sedans (even some of their wagon versions) as opposed to all but the most performance-oriented SUVs.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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The Passat’s 2.0 litre, four-cylinder direct injected and turbocharged engine is an impressive piece of engineering. With 200 willing horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque, it makes the Passat Wagon much quicker than you’d expect. Acceleration can even be called aggressive when you require it. Otherwise, the six-speed Tiptronic transmission has you trundling along the highway with virtually no engine noise, returning excellent fuel economy. At 100 km/h, for instance, the engine speed is 1,900 rpm; at 120 it’s still a low 2,350 rpm.

Fuel tank capacity, by the way, is 70L, which is big for this class of car. It also means that a fill-up with premium fuel at today’s prices will typically cost you over $60.00 (assuming you have a few litres left). The “plus�? is that you can go a long way on that tank.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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According to the specification sheet sent by Volkswagen Canada with this vehicle, the base price of the Passat 2.0L wagon in this configuration (front-wheel drive, leatherette, automatic) is $33,995. The Luxury Package (includes convenience package) at $2,670 adds an in-dash six-CD changer, lighting package, trunk cargo net, 16�? alloy wheels, chrome exterior window trim, a rear integrated “diversity�? antenna, sunroof and Homelink. (You can save $1,400 by buying the car with a six-speed manual transmission).

As mentioned in earlier comments about this version of the Passat, the steering wheel is very plain. Plastic, with no remotes, it’s a cheap piece of hardware for a car in the mid-$30,000 price range. And it’s right in front of you all the time.

Other than that, the dash layout and centre stack is legible and simple. Everything’s within reach and easily identified, except for the cruise control, which is hidden from view and must be operated on feel alone (after several journeys in this car, I still get it wrong). The “floating�? dashboard is attractive and different (you see a similar application in the Nissan Maxima).

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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The outside mirrors could be about 20% larger, in my opinion, but the interior mirror is very big, and deserves special comment because of this. It’s actually big enough that you can see fully out the rear window and the rear side window. Consequently, you can see what’s approaching behind and beside you from the same mirror – a most notable feature.

Last weekend I headed to Toronto from Ottawa to deliver a bicycle and several boxes, and pick up some items at Ikea: just the thing for a wagon. The weather was poor, driving conditions bad, and the Passat, still wearing its winter tires, was easily up to the task.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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Some observations: the pedal placement (brake and gas pedal) seems odd, and they are too close to each other; the height adjustable centre armrest is a good idea; the seat rake adjustment by rotary knob is really inconvenient; the rear cargo compartment with the seats down holds the tallest 200cm “Billy�? bookshelf from Ikea; there’s a somewhat strange mix of electronic (parking brake) and manual (fine tuning knobs for the radio, seats) equipment; driver’s seat lumbar support could be more aggressive; windshield wipers and washers are very effective; defrosters work well; wind noise is low; on two separate occasions, the fuel pump didn’t shut off when the tank was full, causing gasoline to overflow.

No issues regarding vehicle operation. Electrical and mechanical all good.

Updated March 27th 2007
by James Bergeron

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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I had the opportunity to put about 300km on the Passat over the past week, which is quite a bit for me considering I had three other cars to drive at the same time. Nevertheless, I discovered that this vehicle really does sip on fuel. Yes, it requires premium, so fuel costs approximately ten percent more, but 300km of city driving on half a tank is promising.

This wagon feels very much like the V6 3.6L version I drove about a month ago. The 2.0T FSI engine puts out a healthy amount of power as well, which certainly does not leave you wanting for the V6 engine, especially when you can save $15,000. The engine is ultra-smooth and quiet and has good torque around town and on the highway, and provides brisk acceleration when pushed.

I have a few niggles with this wagon, but they are more along the lines of the price-per-feature quotient. For $36,000, I expect a few things to be standard, like steering wheel-mounted audio controls or even a leather wrapped steering wheel, which would be a lot nicer to look at and to feel in your hands.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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We spend a lot of time as drivers using the steering wheel. It is a critical part of the vehicle and should be made as comfortable and convenient to use as possible. Not having leather is a little disappointing given this car’s price as well, although the leatherette is of very high quality and I have no qualms with it.

The vehicle as a whole feels like it should: a very solidly-built German tank, ready to do battle on the roads of life. Smooth, quiet and sure-footed, a few times I forgot I was driving a wagon as I headed around a corner at a not-so-sane speed.

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit, I did notice something about the sunroof. If you do not have a window open, do not attempt to open the sunroof fully, as the wind buffeting will deafen you. Crack a window, however, and all is fine. I noticed the same with the rear window; just having it down creates nightmarish buffetting.

Intro

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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Since our article on the VW Passat 4Motion garnered so much interest, Volkswagen has sent us a medium-term tester to keep in our fleet until May. I picked up the vehicle from colleague and senior writer Paul Williams today, who had a chance to drive it to Toronto last weekend. His first comment to me was that the gas mileage was outstanding, with more than 645km on the odometer and over a quarter-tank of fuel remaining.

Our plan for the vehicle is to get as many kilometers on this Passat as we can and really put it through its paces over the weeks to come. I suspect we will rotate this through the hands of Autos’s contributing journalists in the Ottawa area when possible to get more exposure and to get more mileage onto it. In the meantime I have the Passat to baby sit and to use as my daily driver along with whatever other vehicles I may have to review, and of course my own two cars that haven’t seen very much tarmac lately.

Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews
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Although this Passat wagon is the same colour as our previous test vehicle, I assure you this is a different machine. This Passat is powered by the 2.0 turbo engine, putting out 200hp and 207lb/ft of torque and is front-wheel drive rather than all-wheel drive.

Unfortunately though, this Passat isn’t as inexpensive as you might expect, considering the loss of the 4motion and V6 engine from our previous test vehicle. Although this car is about $16,000 less expensive than our previous tester, it is still optioned up to $36,665. The saving grace? It is still equipped with leatherette, heated seats and that wonderful power rear lift gate.

This example is a basic Passat 2.0T Wagon with the added luxury package for $2,670. This includes an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, lighting package (with illuminated footwells, front and rear reading lamps, dual sunvisor-mounted vanity lights and door entry lighting), cargo net in the trunk, chrome exterior window trim and rear-window integrated diversity antenna, power tilt and sliding glass sunroof and 16″ alloy wheels and of course, Homelink.

This blog will be a little different than my normal routine. I won’t be updating this one daily but will be bumping it to the front page when updates are available, so set your bookmarks and check back often. There will be periodic updates from myself and other Autos journalists over the next month and a half.

2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T
MSRP as tested: $37,380

For more information on VW and the Passat visit Volkswagen Canada
Medium Term Review: 2007 VW Passat Wagon 2.0T volkswagen daily car reviews