Redefining Mid-Price Luxury: The 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium
The 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium.
Around 1980, Los Angeles Magazine did a comparison chart of old money versus new money, where people would live, what kind of watch they would own, what car they would drive, etc.  "New Money" was a red Mercedes-Benz 450 SL.  "Old Money" was a midnight blue four-door Honda Accord.

I was reminded of that chart during my week in the 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium, because, to me, it's the perfect  blend of the virtues of a 1980 Benz (though not the SL) and the early Honda Accords.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium.
The Passat V6 SEL Premium is luxurious without being ostentatious...luxurious in the old Benz sense of everything is well-made, of good materials, comfortable and logical in terms of layout.  Best of all, like the Accords of today and yesterday, it's a one-price deal.  Choose the trim level you want and there are no extras.

$34,650 buys you the Passat V6 SEL Premium  Add another $850 for destination charge and the price out the door is $35,500.  For that money, you get a 3.6-liter, 24-valve V6 making 280 horsepower,  mated to a six-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and sport mode.  The EPA says it's good for 19 city/28 highway.  We hovered right around 25 mpg in a mix of city street and urban freeway driving.

Also standard: 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, halogen front fog lights with low-speed cornering lights, heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors with position memory, rain-sensing variable-speed intermittent wipers, a power tilting and sliding moonroof, rear camera system, parking steering assist and park distance control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor and rear traffic alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, remote engine start, keyless access, pushbutton start, and a hands-free easy open trunk lid release.

Interior view of 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium
2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium interior.
Inside, there's VW's Car-Net, which brings smartphone integration, including Apple CarPlay, navigation, security and service and infotainment, as well as dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, heated, six-way power front seats with power lumbar support, heated 60/40 split-folding rear seat with armrest, storage and trunk pass-through, leather seating surfaces, ambient interior lighting and footwell lights and a self-dimming interior rearview mirror.

Flashy?  No.  Well-equipped?  Yes.  Luxurious in the classic sense?  Yes.  And at a price that's slightly below the average new car price in the United States in 2018...two or three-thousand dollars less than a comparably-equipped Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.   If Los Angeles Magazine were doing its chart today (now, of course, it would be a clickbait online slideshow),  the 2018 Volkswagen Passat V6 SEL Premium would be the obvious "old money" choice.