Volkswagen has given its North American Passat a mid-cycle facelift, but it still looks like the poor Chinese relative of the classier European model.
It’s not the best day for VW to announce a new model after the emissions scandal in which the German group was caught cheating on EPA tests by installing software on certain diesel-powered VW and Audi model to rig the results, and this impacted the 2016 Passat’s media event, as two senior company execs cancelled their planned appearance, according to Autonews.
VW had promised us a “major facelift” for the American-made 2016 Passat, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything major other than some cosmetic polishing around the edges, and some tech and equipment updates.
The US Passat was never a car you’d choose for its design, and the facelift, which includes a slightly flashier front end with new a hood, bumper, fenders, grille and slimmer headlamps, together with a revised rear bumper and trunk lid, plus available LED head- and tail-lights, won’t change that perception.
The good news is that the 2016 model is the first Passat in the US to get an optional R-Line sports package featuring a stylized front bumper with contrasting black accents, side skirts, rear diffuser and 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/40 ZR rated tires.
Inside, there’s a new dual-binnacle instrument cluster, plus upgraded materials, a new steering wheel and column stalk designs, and “refined” chrome and piano black trim.
VW also introduced its latest MIB II infotainment system that’s available with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink, and which can be had with two different sizes of touchscreens (depending on the model) featuring gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming.
Elsewhere, and depending on which trim and options you choose, the 2016 Passat can be had with heated rear seats, an Easy-Open keyless access system to open the trunk by moving your foot under the car, and a multitude of safety features such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist).
All 2016 Passat models get rearview cameras and the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System that prevents the vehicle from crashing into another car or object after the initial impact, as standard equipment.
There are no changes to the powertrain lineup with the 2016 model being offered with three engines, including a 1.8L turbo’d gasoline unit, a 280hp 3.6-liter VR6 gasoline and the 2.0-liter TDI diesel – though we don’t know if the latter will be available from launch as VW halted sales of cars equipped with this engine following the EPA scandal.
Detailed pricing will be announced closer to launch later this year, but VW said that the entry-level 1.8T S model with a 6sp automatic would start at $22,440, which is the same as the outgoing 2015 Passat.