2019 Volkswagen Passat vs. 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen Passat are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Passat has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the Passat and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The Passat comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The 3 Series Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 89 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Passat’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen Passat’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 3 Series Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Passat uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 3 Series Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Passat has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan (18.5 vs. 15.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Passat’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (235/45R18 vs. 225/35R20).

The Passat has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 3 Series Sedan; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Passat’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (36.4 feet vs. 37.4 feet). The Passat’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (36.4 feet vs. 39.2 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Passat may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 700 pounds less than the BMW 3 Series Sedan.

Passenger Space

The Passat has .4 inches more front legroom, .9 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 3.9 inches more rear legroom and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the 3 Series Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Passat has a much larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (15.9 vs. 13 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Passat R-Line/SE/SEL to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Passat has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the 3 Series Sedan. The Passat also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the 3 Series Sedan.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Volkswagen Passat, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend selected the Passat as their 2012 Car of the Year. The 3 Series Sedan has never been chosen.

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

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