TodayApril 15, 2022

2020 VW Passat SEL review pricing specs

Volkswagen Passat sedan made in America

  • Spacious interior with new dash design and premium materials
  • 2.0-liter TSI engine boosts torque to 206 lb-ft
  • Standard features include: 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, full LED lighting, App-Connect, Front Assist with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert
  • MSRP starts at $22,995

I remember when they started making the Passat at the Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Tennessee. I liked the four-door sedan straight away. Today, it is still a great sedan and is fighting furiously with the competition to stay relevant in an SUV world.

2020 VW Passat SEL rear

2020 VW Passat SEL rear


For 2020, the Passat has a much bolder look. The only section of the sophisticated design carried over from the previous Passat is the roof panel.

Slim LED headlights and a dominant grille give the 2020 Passat a focused, expressive face. 17-inch ten-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels and 215/55R17 tires are standard, while SEL models come with 18-inch five-spoke two-tone wheels and 235/45/R18 rubber.

R-Line models take the basic design and up the ante. The more aggressive front end treatment features a unique bumper with C-signature air intakes in gloss black and adds vertical chrome stripes to the grille. At the back, a rear diffuser and rear spoiler add a sporty touch. R-Line models feature striking 19-inch, two-tone, five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 235/40R19 rubber.

Passat SEL trims are equipped with Volkswagen’s Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with range control and cornering lights. A power-tilt-and-slide sunroof is standard equipment on Passat R-Line and SEL and is optional on SE models.

The 2020 Passat remains a generously-proportioned four-door sedan. Nose to tail, it measures 193.6 inches and features a 110.4-inch wheelbase and 72.2-inch width. I noticed the rear-seat legroom the first time I set in the Passat, and it is still exceptional at 39.1 inches. Thanks to a sophisticated overall package of aerodynamic design features, the 2020 Passat manages a low coefficient of drag (.29).


Like the exterior, the redesigned interior conveys sophistication and quality. The new cockpit incorporates a horizontal design that emphasizes the interior space; the concept is prominently illustrated by a long horizontal element that stretches the dashboard’s length, including the air vents and framing a new, more contemporary instrument panel.

2020 VW Passat SEL IP

2020 VW Passat SEL IP

Small but mighty, the 2020 Passat offers the same cabin space that helped make the outgoing model popular. Base-level S models come with cloth seats in Titan Black. SE trims upgrade to Volkswagen’s V-Tex leatherette, available in Titan Black, Shetland Beige, and Mauro Brown. R-Line trims also adopt V-Tex, with two color options—Titan Black and two-tone Titan Black and Shetland Beige. SEL models feature leather in the same color scheme as SE models. The car I test drove had the Shetland Beige Vienna Leather interior.

The Passat offers heated front seats as standard on SE models and above, with heated outboard rear seats standard on SEL models. A powered driver’s seat with memory is featured on SE trims and above, while SEL models further upgrade to Sport Comfort seats, which bring power to the front passenger seat. Additionally, SE and SEL models feature a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel. In R-Line models, the 2020 Passat comes with a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel that features shift paddles.

Fender Premium Audio. SEL models feature the 400-watt Fender Premium Audio system with eight speakers and a separate subwoofer, allowing passengers to feel the music as if they were listening in person.

MIB II Infotainment. All 2020 Passat models feature Volkswagen’s innovative MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. The display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor (as in smartphone and tablet technology) rather than the more common resistive touchscreens that require pressure, enabling gesture controls like swiping and even pinch-zooming.

Passat S, SE, and R-Line models come with the Composition Media unit, which features a glass-covered 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display. The infotainment system offers one USB-A port (SE models and above receive two charge-only ports in the rear center console), standard Bluetooth technology for compatible devices, and SiriusXM® radio a three month trial period, as well as a rearview camera.

The unit can send and receive SMS text messages via Bluetooth with compatible phones and pair two phones simultaneously. App-Connect smartphone integration for compatible devices is standard. It offers users the ability to run select smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through services such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Passat SEL models come with the Discover Media system, which adds HD Radio and 2.5D navigation. It features one-shot voice destination entry, typed destination entry with search and auto-complete, and predicts possible destinations based on frequently used routes.

Volkswagen Car-Net. Since its debut for the 2014 model year, Volkswagen Car-Net has allowed Volkswagen owners to connect to their vehicles. For the model year 2020, Car-Net moves into the next generation of integration, with an updated mobile app, a long list of no-charge services for five years, and new subscription options. Car-Net Services are in four areas: Remote Access, Safe & Secure, Hotspot, and Guide & Inform. 2020 Passat SE models and above will come with Car-Net (late availability).

Car-Net Remote Access is offered at no additional charge for five years from the date of the vehicle purchase. Features include remote start and stop (if equipped), remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash of lights last parked location, and remote vehicle status display, which provides information on fuel level, mileage, and door and window status.

When it’s time for scheduled service, Car-Net can notify the customer and provide a simple way to schedule a dealer visit.


The 2020 Passat is powered by Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection EA888 engine, which produces 174 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque (22 lb-ft more than the previous Passat). The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shifting, with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles on R-Line models.

The TSI engine features innovative solutions such as water-cooled exhaust gas routing through the cylinder head to the turbocharger (to efficiently reduce full-load fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and multi-port injection. Thanks to its fully-electronic coolant control system, the four-cylinder engine also offers highly efficient thermal management with a short warm-up phase; this reduces friction and decreases fuel consumption.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2020 Passat is 23 mpg in city driving, 34 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined.


The Passat has dynamic handling and precise steering that drivers have come to expect of a Volkswagen. Its front suspension features struts with lower control arms, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar. At the rear, there’s a sophisticated four-link independent layout with telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. Electromechanical power steering is weighted to balance precision at highway speeds and lower steering weight at parking speeds.


The Passat provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It features six airbags as standard (front and side airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for outboard seating positions), along with electronic safety systems, such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, Intelligent Crash Response System, and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Driver-Assistance Technology

To meet the demands of American drivers, the 2020 Passat offers a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology. Available features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane-Keeping System (Lane Assist); Park Distance Control; Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist); and High Beam Control (Light Assist).

The American made 2020 Volkswagen Passat will be available in four trim levels and is in dealerships right now waiting for you.

2020 VW Passat SEL cargo

2020 VW Passat SEL cargo

Exterior Colors

The Passat is available in six colors—
Pure White
Reflex Silver
Platinum Grey
Deep Black Pearl
Aurora Red Chroma
Tourmaline Blue.

2020 VW Passat Competitors

Chevrolet Malibu
Ford Fusion
Honda Accord
Hyundai Sonata
Nissan Altima
Toyota Camry

2020 VW Passat model and pricing:

2020 VW Passat 2.0 Turbo S $22,995
2020 VW Passat SE $25,845
2020 VW Passat R-Line $28,645
2020 VW Passat SEL $31,095


Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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