2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL review: Hitting the premium bargain spot

2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL engine

The engine in the 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL is a 170-horse five-cylinder that works for its living. (click to enlarge image)

Seats are comfy and well bolstered to match its sporting aspects, the suede-like Dinamica inserts grippy for additional hold power in corners. Even tall friends will be happy in the back. Leg room is surprisingly generous, as is headroom.

The rear seatback folds down for additional room for long items in the trunk. The opening is wide, and with pull handles on either side of the trunk lid, the seatbacks are easy to fold. At 15.6 cubic feet, the trunk has room for a lot of stuff, but the trunk lid is supported by simple arms that swing down and into anything that’s in the way. Pack carefully.

2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL badging

The 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL badging identifies the car’s trim level but not the engine. (click to enlarge)

While acceleration of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL is tepid, the payback in mileage is middling. While the EPA fuel economy numbers are 22/31mpg for city/highway, we achieved 24.5 mpg in real world driving where the world contains a lot of up and downhills, something that is tough on fuel mileage.

Still, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SEL is about as loaded as a Passat gets, and everything is included in the price except delivery. For those who don’t need the acceleration of the V-6 and don’t drive enough miles to pay back the added cost of the diesel engine and diesel fuel, the 2.5 SEL is a worthwhile alternative for those who like the accessories. Considering that the Passat 2.5 SEL comprises about 75 percent of Passat sales, we’d call that a pretty accurate read of the market and a good choice for the buyer.