2019 Dodge Charger vs. 2018 Volkswagen Passat

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Charger has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Passat doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Charger offers optional ParkSense which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Passat doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Charger offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Passat doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the Charger and the Passat have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 and rear cross-path warning.

The Dodge Charger weighs 449 to 1115 pounds more than the Volkswagen Passat. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

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

 

Charger

Passat

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

95

312

Neck Injury Risk

26%

39%

Neck Stress

230 lbs.

391 lbs.

Neck Compression

41 lbs.

47 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

96

384

Chest Compression

.7 inches

.8 inches

Neck Injury Risk

33%

41%

Neck Stress

155 lbs.

297 lbs.

Neck Compression

42 lbs.

85 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 Dodge Charger is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

 

Charger

Passat

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

164

280

Spine Acceleration

44 G’s

61 G’s

Hip Force

243 lbs.

627 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

270

305

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

Warranty

The Charger comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years 100,000 miles. Dodge 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.

There are almost 4 times as many Dodge dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Charger’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Charger has a standard 160-amp alternator (180-amp - Charger AWD/R/T and 220 Scat Pack/Daytona). The Passat’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Charger has a standard 730-amp battery. The Passat’s 480-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the Charger is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the Charger’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Passat’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Dodge vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Dodge 19th in initial quality. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.

Engine

The Charger has more powerful engines than the Passat:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Charger 3.6 DOHC V6

292 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Charger 3.6 DOHC V6

300 HP

264 lbs.-ft.

Charger R/T 5.7 V8

370 HP

395 lbs.-ft.

Charger R/T Scat Pack/Daytona 392 6.4 V8

485 HP

475 lbs.-ft.

Passat 2.0T 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

174 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Passat 3.6 DOHC V6

280 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Charger R/T Scat Pack/Daytona 392 6.4 V8 is faster than the Volkswagen Passat V6:

 

Charger

Passat

Zero to 60 MPH

4.2 sec

5.7 sec

Quarter Mile

12.6 sec

14.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

113.8 MPH

100.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Charger RWD with its standard V6 gets better fuel mileage than the Passat Auto V6 (19 city/30 hwy vs. 19 city/28 hwy).

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Charger R/T’s fuel efficiency. The Passat doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The Charger has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Passat doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Dodge Charger, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Passat.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Passat doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Charger SXT

Charger Daytona 392

Passat

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

15.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.8 inches

10.7 inches

The Charger GT/R/T/SXT AWD’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Passat are solid, not vented.

The Charger stops much shorter than the Passat:

 

Charger

Passat

 

60 to 0 MPH

106 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Charger’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Passat (275/40R20 vs. 235/45R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Charger SXT has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Passat S. The Charger R/T’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Passat R-Line/GT.

Suspension and Handling

The Charger 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 Charger offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Passat’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Charger’s wheelbase is 9.8 inches longer than on the Passat (120.2 inches vs. 110.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Charger is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Passat.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack handles at .92 G’s, while the Passat SE pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.8 seconds quicker than the Passat SE (25.3 seconds @ .8 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

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

Passenger Space

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

The Charger has 2.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Passat (104.7 vs. 102.3).

The Charger has .3 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Passat.

Cargo Capacity

The Charger has a larger trunk than the Passat (16.5 vs. 15.9 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Charger’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.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Charger is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Passat. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Charger’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 Charger’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Passat does not have an oil pressure gauge.

On a hot day the Charger’s driver can lower the front windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Passat can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Charger’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Passat’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Charger detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Passat doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Charger 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 Charger 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 Charger SXT/Rallye/R/T’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.

The Charger has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Passat R-Line/SE/GT/SEL.

Both the Charger and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Charger 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.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Charger is less expensive to operate than the Passat because it costs $288 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Charger than the Passat, including $164 less for a water pump, $483 less for a starter, $50 less for fuel injection, $229 less for front struts, $310 less for a timing belt/chain and $11 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Dodge Charger outsold the Volkswagen Passat by 46% during 2017.

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

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