DETROIT — Simple, clean, straight lines are often the best. And that’s what we found when we climbed into Volkswagen’s 2020 Passat.
There was a touch infotainment screen housed in glass and there was a long horizontal display that made the interior look wide. But what really set this off was the fit and finish. There was not a gap anywhere.
The odometer and speedometer were large with easy-to-read numerals. The former had a temperature gauge in the bottom of the circle while the fuel gauge was at the bottom of the speedometer. There was a TFT screen between the two. It had keyless lock and unlock and implicit with that was pushbutton start-stop.
As we toggled through the different information on the TFT, the front-wheel-drive sedan had a range of 370 miles. That was after almost one week of driving. Granted, we didn’t do much — the state was just opening back up — but still, that wasn’t bad.
The Volkswagen Passat was a conservatively styled sedan. But in its own way, it was slick. Leather seats were comfortable. There was stitching but it was restrained, only around the seats and the headrests.
Beneath the 6.3-inch wide infotainment screen was the tri-dial climate controls. In between them was the airflow directions and the switches for the heated seats. Beneath that was a deep bin. It held the USB jack and the 12V plug. The button for the start-stop was flush on the console next to the gear shifter.
We got into the back seats and found them expansive. We checked and there were 57 cubic feet of shoulder room. There was plenty of headroom, and legroom bordered on unbelievable. The backseats were heated and there were two more USB jacks.
There was a hump, even though the Passat was front-wheel-drive. But the back seat was so spacious that whoever was on the hump would be uncomfortable but comfortable. We looked in the trunk and it too had an awful lot of size with 15.9 cubic feet of space.
For 2020, the Volkswagen Passat got new sheet metal. Only the roof panel remained from the old model. Volkswagen said it gave the car a bolder look. But we think it gave the car a statelier look. The lines were crisp, even though there were a lot of creases, especially in the hood, the fit and finish stood out.
The car had slim headlights, a dominant grille, what VW is branding as a tornado line along the side and daytime running lights. Along with the taillights, all external illuminators were LED. Our SEL trim line had 18-inch alloy rims.
We also had adaptive headlights with range control and cornering lights. And there was a power-tilt-and-slide moonroof.
The Volkswagen Passat was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-inject four-cylinder engine that made 174 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. Sounds meek but it had a lot of oomph because maximum torque kicked in at a low 1,700 rpm. This car had diesel-like acceleration.
The engine was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. There were no paddle shifters on our trim line, but we could shift manually using the gear stalk. This transmission has been branded Tiptronic and it has been around since 1990.
It had an EPA rating of 23 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, 2020 Passat had a highway range of 600 or so miles.
There were automatic headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and an automatic dimming rearview mirror. Heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals were also standard, and our sideview mirrors had a power-folding function and memory.
There were the usual suspects in terms of equipment: smart cruise control, lane assist, rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, blind-spot alert, front and rear parking assist, and a navigation system.
The car had voice controls, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blind side monitoring, remote engine start and Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free smartphone operation.
The starting price for the Passat was $22,995. Upgrade the trim line to the SEL and the sticker for our 2020 Volkswagen Passat was $32,015.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.