Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 BMW 3 Series VS 2016 Volkswagen Passat Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2016 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2016 Volkswagen Passat

Safety Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 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.

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Passat doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Passat doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an optional Side and Top 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 3 Series Sedan and the Passat 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, daytime running lights, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

150

302

Neck Stress

115 lbs.

158 lbs.

Neck Compression

44 lbs.

104 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 BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Volkswagen Passat:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

184 lbs.

247 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

291

305

Spine Acceleration

38 G’s

44 G’s

Hip Force

513 lbs.

671 lbs.

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

Instrumented handling tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and analysis of its dimensions indicate that the 3 Series Sedan, with its five-star roll-over rating, is 1.2% less likely to roll over than the Passat, which received a four-star rating.

Warranty Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The Passat’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 40,000 miles longer than Volkswagen pays for maintenance for the Passat (4/50,000 vs. 1/10,000).

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 170-amp alternator (180-amp - 3 Series Sedan Diesel and 200 ActiveHybrid). The Passat’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 900-amp battery. The Passat’s standard 570-amp battery and largest (V6/diesel) 640 amp battery aren’t as powerful.

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Passat’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 23rd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 18th in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 21st.

Engine Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the Passat:

Horsepower

Torque

320i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

180 HP

200 lbs.-ft.

328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

240 HP

255 lbs.-ft.

340i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

320 HP

330 lbs.-ft.

Passat 1.8T 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

170 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Passat V6 SEL Premium 3.6 DOHC V6

280 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 10 more horsepower (180 vs. 170) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 184) than the Passat 1.8T’s standard 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the Passat V6 SEL Premium’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the 328i is faster than the Passat V6 (automatics tested):

3 Series Sedan

Passat

Zero to 30 MPH

2 sec

2.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

15.1 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.9 sec

4.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

14.8 sec

Top Speed

155 MPH

126 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the 328d gets better fuel mileage than the Passat 1.8T:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

2WD

Auto

32 city/42 hwy

25 city/38 hwy

AWD

Auto

30 city/40 hwy

n/a

On the EPA test cycle the 340i RWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Passat V6 (22 city/33 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Passat doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’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.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the 340i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Passat:

340i

Passat

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

10.7 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the Passat:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the 3 Series Sedan has larger standard tires than the Passat (225/55R17 vs. 215/55R17).

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Passat S’ standard 60 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Passat R-Line’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Passat S.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Passat doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Passat doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The 340i handles at .91 G’s, while the Passat SEL pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 340i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.5 seconds quicker than the Passat SE (25.6 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan is 9.1 inches shorter than the Passat, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 328i is quieter than the Passat SEL:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

At idle

40 dB

40 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

78 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

72 dB

Cargo Capacity Comparison

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Passat’s liftover is 28.2 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Passat’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an available heads-up display which 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 3 Series Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Passat’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left down on the 3 Series Sedan w/Comfort Access the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the Passat can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The 3 Series Sedan’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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. Heated windshield washer nozzles are not available on the Passat S.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Passat doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Passat doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Passat SE/SEL’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i)’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Passat doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Passat and aren’t offered on the Passat S.

When the 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which 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.

On extremely cold Winter days, the 3 Series Sedan’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.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Passat offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 3 Series Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Passat S/Wolfsburg doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Economic Advantages Comparison

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Passat because it costs $342 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sedan than the Passat, including $40 less for an alternator, $121 less for a starter, $7 less for a fuel pump, $34 less for front struts and $391 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations Comparison

The BMW 3 Series Sedan has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

3 Series Sedan

Passat

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

TRUE

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 22 years. The Passat has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 20 years. The Passat has never been an “All Star.”

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