Wide Open Spaces with the VW Passat 1.8T SE

Calling all tall people! Front seat or back seat? Your choice. The 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T SE with Technology is a midsize sedan with a huge amount of space in the front seat and the back seat, with the capacity to seat five adults comfortably.

Lengthwise it measures 191.9 inches and features a stretched 110.4-inch wheelbase and 72.2-inch width, which allows for 42.4 front-seat legroom and 39.1 inches of rear-seat legroom. That’s tap dance talk. The headroom is something to be excited about as there is no major space lost from the front seat headroom of 38.3 inches to the rear of 37.8 inches. And there is plenty of window visibility all the way around in this ride.

As a first-time driver of a Passat, I was excited to see how it performed. I got a kick out of feeling the turbo engine work as I merged onto the highway and passed other vehicles. The 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and is offered with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The ride was quiet, smooth and fast.

While I enjoyed getting the feel for this new Passat, it’s not totally new. The 2017 model, coming in colors like platinum gray metallic, has minimal changes since the 2016 facelift with fresh sheet metal, a revised interior and new connectivity and available driver assistance systems. They include blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, lane assist, park assist, adaptive cruise control, park pilot. Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking are also part of these systems that are now standard on lower trim lines.

The infotainment systems offers a touchscreen that enables gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming. It also offers standard Bluetooth connectivity for compatible devices are standard on all 2017 Passat models. For example, two phones can connect and be used at the same time.

I appreciated the cool factor of the almost monochromatic color scheme of the Titan black interior. Along with all that room in the back, the rear seat passengers had their own A/C vents and USB ports. If necessary, I could have taken advantage of the 60-40 split rear pass-through seats that fold down to extend the 15.9 cu-ft of carpeted trunk space.

I was happy, but not surprised, to see the hands-free option to open the trunk. A lot of new vehicles have it. But I was surprised at how wide the trunk door opened. In fact, I was surprised at how wide all of the doors opened. That’s a good thing. More space.

2017 VW Passat 1.8T SE W/Technology: $27,995. Combined City/Highway MPG: 27.

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