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New Volkswagen Passat vs Toyota Fortuner

Motor Trend India logo Motor Trend India 23-11-2017 Somnath Chatterjee

The SUV vs car debate has long been going on and on. SUVs are supposed to take you to the unknowns but the only unknowns you will ever go to in your shiny new SUV is that new mall that your wife is pestering you to take her. But no matter how good the economy is, our roads do not show it and they are getting worse and worse. With rains also come panic and havoc where Gurgaon or Mumbai turn into Venice. Thus you do need SUVs but buying an SUV also has some sacrifices. Let us compare the newest luxury sedan vs the most selling SUV.

7U4A8164 © Motor Trend Staff 7U4A8164


Obviously the Fortuner is longer, taller and wider but in terms of length and width, it is not such a big difference. The Passat, if still being sublte, is imposing and has presence- much more than the last one. The new Passat is sleeker and looks longer than the earlier one. The lines are sharp and yes we are big fans of its 'not too shouty' lines yet also a car that commands respect. The Fortuner, is well, a Fortuner. The new gen model is wearing a toothy grille, sharp headlamps and is dripping with a Lexus vibe which has gone down very well. It is big and has tonnes of presence.

a car parked on the side of a road: New Toyota Fortuner Diesel Automatic Review © Motor Trend Staff New Toyota Fortuner Diesel Automatic Review


Both interiors are nice places to be- something you expect paying 30 odd lakhs. The new Fortuner is a huge improvement over the earlier one in terms of everything-quality, design and features. The whole dash which is covered in leather looks and feels great and so does the new steering wheel and the fancy instruments. The mix of materials is good and a giant leap over the earlier one.

a view of a car: 7U4A8045 1 © Motor Trend Staff 7U4A8045 1

But it cannot hold a candle to the new Passat. Try to go to a bank and ask to see one of their big safes and when no one is looking, try to get in- the feeling is akin to being in the new Passat. The doors require a hefty push and it feels it could last through a nuclear war. What build quality! And then there is the classy interior. It is faultless with superb quality all around. Everything is perfect, right from the old school clock, the neatly laid out dash and the feel of the switches.

a close up of a car: Toyota Fortuner Interior © Motor Trend Staff Toyota Fortuner Interior

The Fortuner is a seven-seater and the second row and good space plus the seats are comfy. The new Passat has more legroom for the rear seat though and they are more comfortable to boot.


The new Fortuner gets features like LED headlamps, smart key, 7 inch touchscreen, navigation, rear view camera, leather, push button start, 7 airbags, powered boot release, 4wd and more! There is an improvement here no doubt. However when you see the Passat, things change. The new Passat has 9 Airbags, Hill Start Assist, Auto Hold, Reverse camera with 360° area view, Park assist, App connect, ‘NAPPA’ leather seats, Dynamic chassis control, 3 zone Auto AC, Electric adjustable front seat, LED Headlamps, powered boot release, electric sunroof, I can go on and on, you get the drift!

a car parked in a parking lot: 7U4A8027 © Motor Trend Staff 7U4A8027


The Fortuner gives you more choice in terms if engine options with a 2.7l petrol and a 2.8l diesel with both engines having manual and automatic options. The diesel is available with 4x4 also. To drive, the new Fortuner is again much improved- there is more refinement and more polish to the driving experience. The manual is more fun and for 4WD enthusiasts it make sense but for most the automatic is the one to buy. The steering is lighter compared to the previous one too plus it handles better with less roll. The Passat comes with a 2.0 diesel with a 6-speed DSG gearbox. The engine is a bit audible but what is fantastic is the gearbox and power delivery. It is quick and the fast shifting gearbox makes for brilliant progress. There is a shove and in the faster modes, it is fun and quick. The driving experience is distinctly European with its tight handling and a slightly firm ride. However you can also adjust the dampers (first for a car of this price) and this makes the car slightly better in our road conditions still it's a bit stiff overall.

In comparison to the Fortuner, the Passat is on an another league in the handling and gearbox plus power delivery. Both ride nearly the same but the Fortuner wins when the roads turn bad with its 4WD and ground clearance. Obviously.

a car parked on the side of a road: Toyota Fortuner Rear Three Quarter © Motor Trend Staff Toyota Fortuner Rear Three Quarter


Have we taken leave of our senses? What is the point of this comparison? The point is simple. An SUV while having many advantages is over hyped and a sedan for less the money is better built, has more features, drives better and generally offers a more luxurious experience. The Fortuner starts at Rs 27 lakh and goes all the way to Rs 32 lakh. The Passat starts at Rs 30 lakh and goes till Rs 33 lakh. The SUV is more practical for our roads and you can take it on road trips plus there is the raised driving position and the presence. The luxury sedan which is the Passat meanwhile trumps it in every other department. The features, quality and the overall experience means that a luxury sedan offers you more. Thus while SUVs are popular the sedan is not dead and not a bad deal at all.

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