2019 Volkswagen Passat vs. 2020 Acura TLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 TLX 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 TLX 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Volkswagen Passat is safer than the TLX:

Passat

TLX

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

ACCEPTABLE

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

234

250

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

19 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.2/.3 kN

1.6/2.1 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.39/.46

1.15/.91

Tibia forces R/L

1.8/.6 kN

4.4/5 kN

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 Volkswagen Passat is safer than the Acura TLX:

Passat

TLX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

119

187

Abdominal Force

136 G’s

179 G’s

Hip Force

247 lbs.

276 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

671 lbs.

678 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Passat the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The TLX was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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

The Passat’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the TLX’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Acura 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 TLX’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Passat’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the TLX’s camshafts. If the TLX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Passat’s reliability 21 points higher than the TLX.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Passat gets better fuel mileage than the TLX:

MPG

Passat

FWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/36 hwy

TLX

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

A-Spec 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/31 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

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

The Passat has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the TLX (18.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

The Passat stops much shorter than the TLX:

Passat

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

169 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Passat’s wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer than on the TLX (110.4 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The Passat SE R-Line handles at .84 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Passat’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (36.4 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The Passat’s turning circle is 3.1 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (36.4 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Passat may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 550 pounds less than the Acura TLX.

Passenger Space

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

The Passat has 9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the TLX (102.3 vs. 93.3).

The Passat has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 4.6 inches more rear legroom and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the TLX.

Cargo Capacity

The Passat has a much larger trunk than the TLX (15.9 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the Passat SE R-Line’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The TLX doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The Passat has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The TLX has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Passat and the TLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Passat is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The TLX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 TLX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Passat (except S/R-Line/GT) offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The TLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Passat SEL Premium’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The TLX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Passat owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Passat with a number “1” insurance rate while the TLX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Passat is less expensive to operate than the TLX because it costs $18 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Passat than the TLX, including $80 less for a starter, $381 less for fuel injection, $8 less for a fuel pump and $786 less for a power steering pump.

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 TLX has never been chosen.

The Volkswagen Passat outsold the Acura TLX by 36% during 2018.

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

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