12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI - First Service

October 10, 2012
2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI Front Left View
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Long-Term 2012 Volkswagen Passat Update - FALL 2012 (1 OF 2)
Miles to date: 11,244
"10,000 miles isn’t just an arbitrary milestone."
It finally happened. After months of constant commuting and long road trips and, we finally managed to roll the odometer on our Four Seasons 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI past the magical 10,000-mile mark in September.
10,000 miles isn't just an arbitrary milestone for celebration: barring any unforeseen consequences, it's the first time Volkswagen says a new Passat should go in for scheduled maintenance. According to the owner's manual, service intervals fall every 10,000 miles, but the first 10,000-mile check-up is rather simple. Technicians are instructed to inspect brake pads, change oil and oil filter, rotate tires, inspect wiper blades, and if necessary, top off the urea-based AdBlue diesel emissions fluid. That last point is somewhat unique to the Passat TDI: while Jetta and Golf TDI models use a near-identical diesel engine, neither one boasts the Passat's selective catalyst exhaust trap, which requires the use of AdBlue.
2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI Front Left Side View
Our service visit was hinged largely upon a fluid change, although we did ask our dealer to look into a slight rattling sound our editors have occasionally noticed a rattle coming from from the headliner. Our dealer allegedly couldn't replicate the errant noise, and sent us on our way. The total cost for our visit: nothing, as Volkswagen's Carefree Maintenance program provides free basic scheduled maintenance appointments for the first three years or 36,000 miles of ownership.
Outside of our scheduled check-up, our Passat hasn't required much other upkeep during the time it's been in our care. We did replace the daytime running lamp bulbs when both burned out late last month. Replacement bulbs run $6 per pair, and the owner's manual says both are user-serviceable items - but the act of replacement isn't as straightforward as it seems. Most forward lamps are only accessible through small openings in the inner fender liners, but the DRL sockets are located on the underside of the lamp housings. Slender hands are ideal for the job, but they're no guarantee of success, as associate Web editor Ben Timmins found.
"I checked the bulb and the filament looked fine," he wrote, "so I jiggled it back in place and tried to screw it back in. It wouldn't go in, and I was powerless to figure out why because trying to insert and remove the DRL socket from the housing is a process you have to do blind. A member on a VW forum detailed a way to change the DRLs by removing the headlamp assembly, which requires removing the grille."
Did it work? Indeed, though Timmins notes putting things back together wasn't quite as easy, thanks to a few hidden mounting clips. "It's understandable VW doesn't advise its owners to remove plastic pieces every time they need to replace bulbs. Then again, the manufacturer-recommended solution is a joke that will leave you like me: with stuck bulbs and nicked hands."
2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI Menu
We're not sure either a dealer or novice can repair our complaints surrounding the Passat's navigation system. The clunky interface and spotty route guidance - which routed senior Web editor Phil Floraday off a freeway, onto slower county roads, and eventually back to the same freeway after a few dozen miles -- frustrated Floraday to the point where he almost swapped cars in the middle of a weekend.
"What really irks me with the system is the auto-zoom feature and the lack of a distance scale when you try to zoom. There's also no way to zoom out enough to see the entire route unless you choose the entire route overview, which doesn't allow you to zoom back in. Operation is clumsy, actual guidance isn't very good, and the interface looks really cheap. I won't be using the navigation in this car again."
Associate Web editor Jake Holmes echoed many of Floraday's sentiments. "The system often gives confusing directions like 'take the second street,' and zooms in and out so you can't see pertinent information on the display. Moreover, I can't find a way to get a list of the route directions before departing, which means I'm often in the dark about the route the nav has picked. I'd opt instead for a more sophisticated aftermarket unit."
Base price (with dest.)$30,265
Price as tested$30,365
Body Style 4-door sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Engine 16-valve DOHC turbodiesel I-4
Displacement 2.0 liters (120 cu in)
Power 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque 236 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Four-wheel
Fuel Economy 30/40/34 (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Electrically assisted
Turns lock-to-lock 3.0
Turning circle 36.4 ft
Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented disc/disc
Wheels 18-inch aluminum alloy
Tires Hankook OptimoH426
Tire Size 235/45HR-18
Headroom F/R 38.3/37.8 in
Legroom F/R 42.4/39.1 in
Shoulder Room F/R 56.9/57.0 in
Wheelbase 110.4 in
Track F/R 62.1/61.0 in
L x W x H 191.6 x 72.2 x 58.5 in
Passenger Capacity 102.0 cu ft
Caro Capacity 15.9 cu ft
Weight 3459 lb
Weight dist. F/R TBD
Fuel Capacity 18.5 gal
Est. Range 630 miles
Fuel Grade Diesel
Standard Equipment Power sunroof Touchscreen navigation iPod cable Fog lights Leatherette seating surfaces Automatic dual-zone climate control SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month subscription Bluetooth Auxiliary audio jack Tilt-and-telescopic steering column Cruise control Hill start assist Automatic headlights w/coming home function Heated front seats Power driver's seat 60/40-split folding rear seats Front and rear armrests w/storage Intermittent front wipers w/heated washer nozzles Stability and traction control
Wheel locks $100

Long-Term 2012 Volkswagen Passat Reviews to Date:

FALL 2012
2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI - First Service
WRAP-UP
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