Volkswagen's Passat family sedan gets a boost in the power department for 2018 thanks to a new 2.0L four-cylinder engine that replaces the 1.8L in last year's base model.
It brings a modest increase of seven hp, for 177 total, matches the old engine's 184 lb-ft of torque and promises better fuel consumption thanks to its use of the Miller combustion cycle, which results in a higher effective compression ratio.
While those are fine reasons to plug a new motor into a car, Volkswagen's ultimate goal is to reduce the number of engines it uses in its different model lines: The 2.0L is a re-tuned version of the one in the new Tiguan crossover and the Passat shares its version with the Beetle coupe and convertible.
The Passat continues to be available in Trendline+, Comfortline and Highline trims. Inside, all trims lose their analog dashboard clock and, models without navigation now do without a digital compass and the base car's exterior is no longer adorned with chrome trim.
Comfortline models get a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, while the base and Highline cars stick with their 16-, 18- and 19-inch wheels.
There are no options in the Trendline+, but it comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration systems, as well as heated front seats, trip computer and a driver alert system.
Comfortline adds blind spot monitoring, heated rear seats, LED headlights and LED taillights. A driver assistance package adds radar cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and lane assist.
The Highline can also be optioned with the driver assistance pack and an R-Line appearance group that brings, among other things, those 19-inch wheels. This is also the only trim that can be had with a 3.6L V6 engine that makes 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Navigation is a stand-alone option in Comfortline and Highline models.
Fuel consumption estimates for the 2.0L are 9.3/6.5 L/100 km (city/highway), figures that are notably lower than those for the outgoing 1.8L. The V6's ratings are 12.2/8.5 L/100 km.
The Passat is a big, comfortable car with great rear-seat legroom and a huge trunk, but its styling is forgettable next to new-for-2018 versions of the Toyota Camry (believe or not) and the Honda Accord. With VW well into an SUV and crossover-centric product offensive, we can't help but wonder how much longer the Passat has left to live.