VW is making a fast comeback despite the lack of a TDI drivetrain. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Mar. 1, 2017 This week’s ride is courtesy of VW in the form of the U.S. built 2017 Passat Premium - $34,815 incl. the $820 D&H charge to start while providing owners a low 20/28 mpgUS city/highway rating from its 3.6L V6 mated to a 6-speed DCT. The base 1.8L TSI equipped S trim w/ a 6-speed AT starts at $23,260 incl. the $820 D&H charge. For 2017, the Passat is being offered with the very latest driver assistance, connectivity, and convenience features in lower trim lines for lower costs. 2017 VW Passat Premium Exterior The 2017 Passat was refreshed in 2016 with an aggressive four character line hood, slimmer LED headlamps, DRLs, and taller but still non-distinct chrome four-bar grille up front. From the profile, a std. power roof, laser welded body to roof seam, chrome DLO surround, light character line from the hood, following the lower edge of the DLO, and into the rear shoulders, a tight radius deep shadow creating character line running almost horizontal above the handles, heated power folding mirrors and light 18” alloys exclusive to and standard on the full boat Premium trim. Moving to the rear, a std. Hands-free "Easy Open" trunk with 15.9 cu. ft. of cargo volume can swallow a ton of luggage. A thin horizontal chrome trim connects the wrap around rear LED lamps. A more substantial chrome band running from the lower rear quarter panel profile around and through the entire lower rear bumper fascia finishes off the somewhat bland overall “look.” Dimensionally, the Passat is 191.9 inches long, 72.2-inches wide, 58.5-inch tall, all riding on a 110.4-inch wheelbase. While that wheelbase and 102 cu. ft. of passenger volume is std. fare for the midsize segment, the rear seat legroom is one of the best rivaling even the largest midsize Sonata. 2017 VW Passat Premium Interior The 2017 Passat provides a very pleasant place to sit for thousands of hours of ownership. Along with extending full coverage sun visors, power tilt/open sunroof, sunglass holder, and auto dimming frameless rear view, there is a dual layer forward edge dash with separating trim piece. I love these dual layer dash edges. Other high end features include dual auto climate, slim chrome trim around the vents, display audio bezel, upper door trim, cupholders and shift lever, and a tasteful wood grain plastic inserts across the center dash. I wish more OEMs offered this in the mid-size segment. Soft touch upper dash components with hard plastic lowers – std. in the industry, soft door inserts, padded door armrests, adjustable center console armrest, powered 8-way powered driver’s seat w/ lumbar support, and pleather heated front and rear seating surfaces make for one of the most comfortable seating environments both front and rear in the midsize segment. 2017 VW Passat Premium 3.6L V6 The 2017 Passat Premium features a 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque 3.6L V6 mated to the standard 6-speed DSG dual-clutch AT w/ paddle shifters. In the few miles I have driven it today, it is very powerful with the ability to move the 3,571 lb. midsize sedan to 60 in less than 6 seconds. The 20/28 mpg city/highway rating is this drivetrains shortfall but I wanted to get a feel of it before the 2018 VW Atlas 7-passenger SUV equipped with almost the exact same drivetrain is released to the public in just weeks. 2017 VW Passat Premium Infotainment The 2017 Passat Premium includes a smallish 6.3-inch touchscreen with smartphone like gesture controls. The MIB II system has a proximity sensor that automatically switches its display to allow easier selection of specific features. Regarding Bluetooth, two phones can connect to the car at the same time. I wish more offered this feature as well. The kick @$$ part of the Passat Premium is the std. Fender audio system. It sounds fantastic! Along with std. Apple Car Play – kind of a mediocre solution – and the much more predictable Android Auto, VWs MirrorLink can somewhat mimic your smartphone on the 6.3” display. The std. Car-Net Security allows you to use your smartphone to locate your parked car. It also allows owners to set boundary or speed alerts, and receive a text or email message if their set speed limit or approved area is exceeded. I have not used these features and may not be able to access them to see if they work as advertised since it is a press car. Car-Net Guide & Inform is free for 4-years including SiriusXM Traffic. 2017 VW Passat Chassis The Passat’s ride and handling is world class and beats every other OEMs affordable midsize. I have said this since 2012 and it continues to this day. The best thing every other OEM could do is copy the Passat’s suspension and EPS systems dimensionality, hardware and software to a bolt and line of code. The strut front end and multi-link independent rear end, both with stabilizer bars, allow the Passat to feel very confident in an aggressive lane change yet long distance ride comfort was not sacrificed. How do they do it??? The electro-mechanical power steering (EPS) system is light at parking lot speeds and gains weight as speeds increase. If you take the best handling attributes of the Mazda6 and soft ride of the Camry, you have an idea as to what the Passat is like to drive. With the large 12.3 x 1.0-in vented front discs and 10.7 x 0.4-in solid rears, the braking is strong. Better yet is the progressive nature of the braking experience. We get use to whatever we are driving but VW simply knows how to do braking feel right as well. All of this is from my experiences in the 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 refresh and now the few miles I have driven the 2017. The trunk is hugggeee!!!! 2017 VW Passat Safety Besides the best-in-class driver comfort, the Passat excels on the crash test safety front. The brands Automatic Post-Collision Braking System apply the brakes after a collision is detected by the airbag sensors to reduce residual kinetic energy and reduce the chance of additional damage. It is standard on every Passat. Along with front, side, and side curtain airbags, ABS, Brake Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Stability Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (above 31 mph) is standard across all trims. 2017 VW Passat NHTSA 5-Star Crash Test Ratings 2017 VW Passat IIHS Top Safety Pick Crash Test Ratings The IIHS rating is not a Top Safety Pick+ rating given the headlight shortfall. I am not sure if the LEDs in the 2017 Premium and Tech equipped trims were tested to achieve the top result or not? I have not driven the Passat Premium so equipped in the dark yet but will before the night is out. Like the LEDs, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is available on the Premium and Tech equipped trims. I have not used that yet but will before the week is out as well. Unfortunately it is not a full stop and reaccelerate system but instead operates in the range down to 12 mph when slowing and 16 mph on up when accelerating. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (traveling > 3 mph) out to approximately 65 feet, Lane Departure Warning system w/ Lane Assist (> 40 mph), Park Distance Control w/ ultrasonic sensors (0 to 5 ft. range below 9 mph), and Park Assist that can automatically steer the car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces in reverse are all included on the Premium trim. Notice the back seat leg and knee room? More to come as the week progresses… 2017 VW Passat Full Trim Pricing (incl. the $820 D&H charge) 1.8T S - $23,260 1.8T R-Line - $24,795 1.8T SE - $26,315 1.8T SE w/ Technology - $28,815 V6 SE w/ Technology - $30,115 1.8T SEL Premium - $31,815 V6 SEL Premium - $34,815 VW February 2017 Sales Overview VW reported it achieved sales of 25,145 vehicles in February 2017, up 12.7 percent over the 22,321 sold in February of 2016. YTD sales of 48,655 is up 14.8 percent over the 42,400 sold through the same period of 2016. And why highlight the Passat besides it being this week’s ride? The Chattanooga-built Passat sales totaled 6,114, up a very healthy 39.6 percent over the 4,380 sold in February of 2016. YTD sales of 12,001 vehicles is up 50.7 percent over the 7,966 sold through February of 2016. U.S. February 2017 Sales vs. February 2016 Sales Ranks and Results for the top 18 Automobile Manufacturers GM February 2017 Sales Up 4.2% with 237,388 Vehicles sold Ford February 2017 Sales Down 4.0% with 208,440 Vehicles sold Toyota February 2017 Sales Down 7.2% with 174,339 Vehicles sold FCA February 2017 Sales Down 10.1% with 168,326 Vehicles sold Nissan February 2017 Sales Up 1.2 % with 122,003 Vehicles sold Honda February 2017 Sales Up 2.3% with 121,686 Vehicles sold Hyundai February 2017 Sales were flat with 53,020 Vehicles sold Subaru February 2017 Sales Up 8.3% with 45,500 Vehicles sold Kia February 2017 Sales Down 14.2% with 42,673 Vehicles Sold Mercedes-Benz February 2017 Sales Up 6.8% with 27,383 Vehicles Sold VW February 2017 Sales Up 12.7% with 25,145 Vehicles sold BMW February 2017 Sales Down 2.5% with 24,712 Vehicles sold Mazda February 2017 Sales Up 5.9% with 22,824 Vehicles sold Audi February 2017 Sales Up 17.3% with 13,741 Vehicles sold Mitsubishi February 2017 Sales Up 38.8% with 10,924 Vehicles sold Jaguar/Land Rover February 2017 Sales Up 16.4% with 9,231 Vehicles sold Volvo February 2017 Sales Down 11.6% with 4,651 Vehicles sold Porsche February 2017 Sales Up 2.1% with 3,637 Vehicles sold In February, BMW moved ahead of Mazda, Mitsubishi moved ahead of Jaguar/Land Rover, and Volvo moved ahead of Porsche. In terms of Market Share, GM was a clear winner in February with a 0.9 percent gain over February of 2016. Nissan was up 0.5 percent while both Kia and Toyota took a 0.5 and 0.8 percent hit respectively. Regarding segment sales totals, Silverado and Sierra outsold the F-Series. Consider the Niro’s first full month sales totals. From nothing to the 4th best-selling Hybrid in the country! The Prius moved back ahead of the surprisingly strong Fusion Hybrid. Remember the Fusion Hybrid outsold the Prius last month for the first time in history. YTD, sales of the Prius (9,971) are ahead of the Fusion Hybrid (9,795) by just 176 vehicles. With the Ioniq entering the C-segment hatch hybrid space, the Prius may lose more sales than the midsize sedan based Fusion Hybrid. It will be a very interesting year based on the monthly and yearly sales results. February sales exceeded 17 million vehicles for the eighth straight month although February sales were off 0.01 million vs. February of 2016. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for light vehicles was approximately 17.5 million vehicles.