2019 Chevrolet Impala vs. 2018 Volkswagen Passat

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Chevrolet Impala are height-adjustable, and the rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Volkswagen Passat has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Impala and Passat have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Impala has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Passat’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 5 points, IIHS rates the Front Automatic Braking optional in the Impala as “Superior.” The Passat scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Both the Impala and the Passat have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Chevrolet Impala is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

 

Impala

Passat

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

229

312

Neck Injury Risk

23.3%

39%

Neck Stress

184 lbs.

391 lbs.

Neck Compression

30 lbs.

47 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

270/69 lbs.

104/367 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.8 inches

Neck Injury Risk

36.3%

41%

Neck Stress

132 lbs.

297 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

57/21 lbs.

86/37 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Chevrolet Impala is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

 

Impala

Passat

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

150

280

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

61 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

15 inches

Spine Acceleration

38 G’s

44 G’s

Hip Force

551 lbs.

671 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The Impala comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years 60,000 miles. Chevrolet will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Passat.

Chevrolet pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Impala. Chevrolet will pay for the first oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance in the first year. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Passat.

There are almost 5 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Impala’s warranty.

Reliability

The Impala has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Passat doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Impala has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Passat’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Impala has a standard 800-amp battery (512 V6). The Passat’s 480-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 33 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

Engine

The Impala’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 23 more horsepower (197 vs. 174) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (191 vs. 184) than the Passat 2.0T’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Impala’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 25 more horsepower (305 vs. 280) and 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (264 vs. 258) than the Passat’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Chevrolet Impala V6 is faster than the Volkswagen Passat V6:

 

Impala

Passat

Zero to 30 MPH

2.4 sec

2.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6 sec

6.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.2 sec

6.5 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4 sec

4.2 sec

Top Speed

149 MPH

126 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Impala 4 cyl.’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Passat doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Impala uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Passat with the 3.6 DOHC V6 engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Chevrolet Impala as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Volkswagen Passat is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Impala’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Passat:

 

Impala

Passat

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

10.7 inches

The Impala stops much shorter than the Passat:

 

Impala

Passat

 

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Impala has larger standard tires than the Passat (235/50R18 vs. 215/55R17). The Impala’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Passat (245/45R19 vs. 235/45R18).

The Impala’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Passat S’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Impala has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Passat S. The Impala Premier’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Passat R-Line/GT.

Suspension and Handling

The Impala has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Passat’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Impala’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Passat doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Impala’s wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer than on the Passat (111.7 inches vs. 110.4 inches).

The Impala LT handles at .84 G’s, while the Passat SEL Premium pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Impala LT executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Passat SE (26.7 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Impala has liquid-filled engine mounts. The liquid helps further dampen engine harshness. The Passat uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The Impala 4 cyl. uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Passat doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Impala LT is quieter than the Passat SEL Premium:

 

Impala

Passat

At idle

38 dB

40 dB

Full-Throttle

77 dB

78 dB

70 MPH Cruising

69 dB

72 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Impala a Large car, while the Passat is rated a Mid-size.

The Impala has 2.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Passat (105 vs. 102.3).

The Impala has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 3.4 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front shoulder room and .7 inches more rear legroom than the Passat.

Cargo Capacity

The Impala has a much larger trunk than the Passat (18.8 vs. 15.9 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Impala’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Passat’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Ergonomics

The Impala Premier’s optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Passat doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Impala Premier offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Passat offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Impala Premier keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Passat doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Impala LT/Premier’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Passat doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Both the Impala and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Impala LT/Premier has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Passat doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Impala offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Passat doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Impala is less expensive to operate than the Passat because typical repairs cost much less on the Impala than the Passat, including $93 less for a muffler, $344 less for a starter, $179 less for front struts and $183 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the Chevrolet Impala as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Chevrolet Impala outsold the Volkswagen Passat by 25% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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