2020 Audi A4 vs. 2020 Volkswagen Passat

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Passat doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Passat doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the A4 and Passat have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The A4 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 A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Passat doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Pre Sense Front in the A4 as “Superior.” The Passat scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The A4 45 TFSI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Passat doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Passat only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the A4 and the Passat have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems 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 Audi A4 is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

A4

Passat

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

164

312

Neck Injury Risk

26%

39%

Neck Stress

232 lbs.

391 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

236

384

Neck Injury Risk

25%

41%

Neck Stress

119 lbs.

297 lbs.

Neck Compression

47 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 Audi A4 is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

A4

Passat

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

280

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

61 G’s

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

671 lbs.

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

Warranty

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The A4’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Passat’s (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).

Reliability

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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 A4’s reliability 16 points higher than the Passat.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 22nd in initial quality. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 13 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The A4 40 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 14 more horsepower (188 vs. 174) and 30 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 206) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 74 more horsepower (248 vs. 174) and 67 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 206) than the Passat’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Consumer Reports the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Volkswagen Passat:

A4

Passat

Zero to 30 MPH

2.7 sec

3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.3 sec

7.9 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.1 sec

5.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.9 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

91 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

On the EPA test cycle the A4 40 TFSI FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Passat (27 city/35 hwy vs. 23 city/34 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A4’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.

Transmission

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A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Audi A4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Passat.

The A4 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Passat doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

The A4’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

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For better stopping power the A4 Quattro’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Passat:

A4

A4 Quattro

Passat

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

13.3 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

10.7 inches

The A4’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 A4 stops much shorter than the Passat:

A4

Passat

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the A4 has larger standard tires than the Passat (225/50R17 vs. 215/55R17). The A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Passat (245/40R18 vs. 235/45R18).

The A4’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 55 series tires. The A4’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Passat R-Line’s optional 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The A4 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 A4 offers an optional 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.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Passat R-Line pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.8 seconds quicker than the Passat R-Line (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis

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The A4 is 7.5 inches shorter than the Passat, making the A4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Audi A4 amounts to more than styling. The A4 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is lower than the Passat (.29) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A4 get better fuel mileage.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A4 easier. The A4’s trunk lift-over height is 26.9 inches, while the Passat’s liftover is 28.2 inches.

Towing

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The A4’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Passat’s (3968 vs. 1000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Passat. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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The A4 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Passat doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The A4’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Passat has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

If the windows are left open on the A4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Passat can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Passat’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Passat doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the A4 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Passat doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

When the A4 with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Passat’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The A4’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to 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 A4 Premium Plus/Prestige 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 A4 Premium Plus/Prestige’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 A4 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 SE/R-Line/SEL.

Both the A4 and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A4 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Audi A4 Premium Plus/Prestige has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Passat doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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The A4 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A4 will retain 37.24% to 38.04% of its original price after five years, while the Passat only retains 33.69% to 34.46%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A4 is less expensive to operate than the Passat because typical repairs cost much less on the A4 than the Passat, including $50 less for a muffler, $226 less for a timing belt/chain and $70 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/13

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A4 and the Volkswagen Passat, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Audi A4/S4 outsold the Volkswagen Passat by 87% during 2019.

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

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