Best car

Volkswagen Passat: best large family car

Spacious, quiet and comfortable, the Volkswagen Passat is an understated family favourite. In Allroad guise, it becomes an allrounder of near-limitless capabilities

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 150PS 4Motion

This model from £30,855

It’s an odd thing to say about a car not known to be one of the great characters of the automotive world, but we love a good Passat. While others bluff and bluster as they try to convince you function really should follow form, the Passat just quietly gets on with being the best mass-market large family car you can buy. Which is why it was voted Car of the Year by the European Car of the Year jury. There’s no occasion to which a Passat is not suited, no task within the bounds of all normal use that it will not take up with relish. A Passat is more than just uncommonly spacious, quiet and comfortable, it infuses a sense of wellbeing among those on board that you tend only to find in more premium brands.

But, of course, while all Passats are equal, some are more equal than others. If you’re going to have a Passat, there seems little point in not choosing the estate version. You’re not buying because it’s some kind of style guru, so you might as well make the most of the entirely practical credentials upon which its reputation is borne. And it is a brilliant estate thanks to a vast, easily accessed and well shaped load area.

But you can go one better with the Alltrack, which comes with a ride height raised by 28mm and, crucially, all-wheel-drive as standard. With the Passat’s standard long wheelbase, this makes it one of the best tow cars this side of a full-sized SUV – which typically cost tens of thousands more. In this guise, the Passat can drag a horsebox across a muddy field or sweep your family and clutter all the way to the Alps for some winter sports. A choice of two 2-litre diesel engines ensures the Passat has both the torque to pull the load and the economy to provide low fuel bills and massive range.


  • Engine: 1968cc, 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Top speed: 127mph
  • 0-60mph acceleration: 9.2sec


  • Claimed economy: 57.6mpg
  • VED: Group D
  • Insurance Group: 19 (1=low, 50=high)

RAC Drive Verdict

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