I love our Passat. When I say love, it's not that I can't think of anything more detailed. I mean I have deep and meaningful feelings for this car. I'm not embarrassed-we all have feelings for cars as we might have for people. Obsession, passion, longing-the romance is all there and, like any relationship, exists in so many 'types.'
Some cars are fast and hot, but end up being high-maintenance and best left as a summer fling. Some are the athletic types with great bodies, who keep up with my need for adventure, but make me feel fat and lame should I decide to spend my weekend inside flipping through my music collection and drinking too much. I don't need that kind of guilt trip.
A loving, long-term relationship isn't too comfortable or boring, but it doesn't wear you out. Our long-term VW Passat isn't what you might typically call 'a good time' but with this combination of excitement, looks and comfort, it's impossible not to get attached.
The V6 4Motion with Haldex all-wheel drive and our opted-for sport package makes everything easy-it's drama-free and willing to compromise. The car is calm and collected with the Haldex system, which senses any differences in rotation between the front and rear axles and applies power where necessary. A good marriage is supposed to be 50/50. But Haldex is the sensitive type, adapting quickly to apply as much as 100 percent torque to the rear axle, and up to 90 percent in the front if need be.
The attributes for a great driving experience occur subtly, so much so that it's barely noticeable how well you're being taken care of. Driven as a normal automatic, the shifts are quick, seamless and imperceptible-unless you're surprised that the power comes so directly when called for.
Still, it's easy to get comfortable with the Passat. But it hasn't grown old-there are a few sparks here and there to keep things fresh. The seats are sporty and that display in the gauge cluster for music and information is easy on the eye in more ways than one. There's even an iPod dock in the glovebox-a nice update to the usual auxiliary cable in/out. The engine makes the only note of complaint, sounding a little on the sluggish side.
The Adaptive Front Lighting system is also noteworthy. At freeway speeds, the bi-xenon headlights will turn up to 15 degrees with the steering. At slow speeds, hit the blinker and a new bulb comes on to illuminate the area in the direction you're headed. Safe, but a little embarrassing when blasting by pedestrians with what resembles a police searchlight.
When it comes to looks, the dealer-installed Hi-Def body kit is worth the price. The shiny stock grille is replaced with a more understated grey. But (sorry to brag) ours has been custompainted matte black. Compared with the standard look, this makes the car look sexy and sophisticated and, unlike many long-term relationships, will continue to hold my affections, even after a year.
At A Glance + Sexy Hi-Def makeover, iPod dock - Adaptive headlamps are startling at low speeds
Mileage: 11,006 Fuel economy: 21.0 mpg