New 1999: Family car
Volkswagen Passat

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With the slimmest of leads, the Passat takes top honors in our Ratings of family sedans. It's based on the Audi A4 and A6, and it's roomy, quiet, and comfortable. It handles smoothly and precisely, rides firmly but compliantly, and has excellent seats. The controls have a quality feel. Major gauges are easy to see and grasp. The turbocharged 1.8-liter Four provides strong acceleration, and the V6 is smooth, quiet, and brawny. The optional five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and the brakes are excellent. The wagon version is roomy.
Body styles and prices
  Price range   Trim lines
4-door $21,200-$23,800 GLS, GLS V6
4-door wagon $21,750-$24,350 GLS, GLS V6
Reliability history
Engine       5
Cooling       5
Fuel       4
Ignition       5
Auto. transmission       5
Man. transmission       5
Clutch       5
Electrical       3
Air-conditioning       5
Suspension       5
Brakes       5
Exhaust       5
Body rust       5
Paint/trim       5
Body integrity       5
Body hardware       5
Safety information
Safety belts:
Front & rear
Dual air bagsStandard
Side air bagsStandard
Antilock brakesStandard
Traction aidTraction standard
Gov't front-crash test:
  Driver / Front passenger
N.A. / N.A.
Gov't side-crash test:
  Driver / Rear passenger
N.A. / N.A.
IIHS offset crash testGood
Injury claim rate compared with:
  All cars
  Family cars
Drive wheels
2 front, 3 rear
Engines available
1.8-liter 4 turbo (150 hp)
2.8-liter V6 (190 hp)
Transmission available
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
Fuel typePremium
EPA city/highway, mpg21/31
Fuel refill capacity, gal.18.5
Dimensions and weight
Length, in.184
Width, in.69
Wheelbase, in.106
Curb weight, lb.3,175
Percent weight, front/rear61/39
Typical towing ability, lb.2,925
Predicted reliability 4
Owner satisfaction 5
Predicted depreciation 3
From the test track
Tested model
1998 GLS 4-door, 1.8-liter turbo Four, 5-speed automatic
Tires as tested
Continental ContiTouring, size 195/65R15
0-30 mph, sec.3.8
0-60 mph, sec.10.3
Quarter mile, sec.17.9
Quarter mile, mph82
45-65 mph, sec.6.3
Dry pavement, ft.129
Wet pavement, ft.154
Pedal effort, 1st stop, lb.20
Pedal effort, 10th stop, lb.20
Other findings
Routine handling4
Emergency handling4
Turning circle, ft.38.0
Ground clearance, in.4.0
Fuel economy3
CU's overall mileage, mpg24
CU's city/highway, mpg16/38
CU's 150-mile trip, mpg30
Annual fuel: gal./cost615/$860
Cruising range, miles520
Ride, normal load4
Ride, full load4
Convenience and comfort
Driving position4
Controls and displays4
Climate-control system4
Door top to ground, in.51.0
Luggage capacity5+0
Max. load, lb.990
Front-seat comfort5
Front shoulder room, in.55.5
Front leg room, in.42.5
Front head room, in.6.5
Rear-seat comfort4
Rear shoulder room, in.53.5
Rear fore-aft room, in.29.0
Rear head room, in.3.0

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