The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack was to be our first BabyDrive Family Adventure car!! So not only was I was excited to get away from it all for a few days as a family, I was excited to drive the Passat and see how it would go carrying all our gear that we now seem to trudge everywhere with us!!!
Well, firstly I was impressed with what a good looking car it was! I love the chrome wing mirrors and detailing on the outside and the inside was stylish as well!
Loading the boot for our trip I was pleasantly surprised how much stuff we could get in there!! Our daughter's bedrail wouldn't fit on the boot so had to go into the rear footwell but other than that we crammed it all in! When the boot is empty it will hold 16 shopping bags. Or the Mountain Buggy Duet twin stroller and Urban Jungle single strollers both fitted with seven bags beside them. The Mountain Buggy Nano compact stroller fitted with 13 shopping bags beside it.
We found using the dog screen instead of the roller blind allowed us to get more into the boot rather than having to put things in the cabin.
Storage was fantastic in the cabin too. In the front, the two cup holders in the central console were well sized to hold all types of vessels from large refillable water bottles to 600ml bottles and disposable and reusable coffee cups. The door bins are large and felt lined, they would hold a large refillable water bottle and my wallet.
There is a cordless phone charging tray in front of the gear lever that also has a USB socket and I found the best place for my phone.
The central console storage box is quite small but is felt lined so nothing will rattle in there and there is a USB socket in there too. The glove box is also small, I could only get my wallet in there with the manual. It is also felt lined and has the option to work like an Esky with a cooling dial in there too, which is handy for keeping kids' food cool when you're out and about all day.
There is a glasses case in the ceiling too and both front visors have lit vanity mirrors in them.
In the back, the storage is also good with equally good capacity in the door pockets and solid map pockets on the back of both front seats that would hold an iPad but not conceal it.
There are three different sized cup holders in a fold-down armrest in the central seatback. I found they were very versatile and would hold various sized vessels, like the front ones, from my large refillable water bottle to a Pigeon baby bottle and reusable and disposable coffee cups.
There are ISO Fix in the outer rear seats in the Passat within plastic guides, which made them easy to connect to.
There were top tethers in the backs of all three rear backrests which I found best to access by bringing the seatbacks forward as I couldn't reach across the long wagon boot!!
The seats were relatively easy to install, but I could only fit two child seats into the back of the Passat. The seat base and back has a fair bit of shaping, which prevented me from being able to fit a third seat in the middle. If you definitely need to install three child seats then make sure you check they will fit on your test drive.
I installed the Britax Graphene (rear facing) on one side and the Britax Unity infant capsule on the other. I could just sit between the two seats but it was quite a squeeze!
My main negative for BabyDrive was I did have a problem when installing a forward facing child seat. The rear headrests are not removable and I found they pushed the top of the child seat forward in a really uncomfortable angle which meant my daughter's head was also pushed forward. This was worse when she fell asleep because then her head had to flop forward onto her chest rather than resting backwards into the child seat. While my husband was driving, I had to get into the back and hold her head back while she was asleep, which wasn't really ideal!! The rear headrests are also shaped so that it is hard to connect a rear baby mirror. I found our Britax one, which is usually fantastic at fixing onto anything, just rotated and slipped off these headrests. It's such a shame because apart from the headrests it is a fantastic BabyDrive!
The media system in the VW Passat has a beautiful, big screen with a really crisp, clear image. I found it an easy system to navigate and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The sat-nav is very good and the voice commands are easy to change volume or mute via the announcements button on the screen.
I discovered my favourite screen when I had had enough of my daughter's nursery rhymes and wanted to move it to play just in her rear speaker and this beautiful screen appeared where I could just swipe the noise to where I wanted it!!! AMAZING!! I did get a little carried away with testing swirling it around and dropping it onto my husband's head!! All juvenile and not very mature of me!!! 😉
Visibility out of the Passat was very good for rear and front passengers. Reverse parking was simple and the parking sensors are loud but can be easily muted from a button on the screen.
The Passat was a lovely car to drive, smooth, easy and enjoyable. It was mostly quiet with just an occasional tractor like grunt which I am told is the diesel engine. There is an annoying lag when accelerating which I just can't stand so found when I drove it in sport mode it overcame the lag and it drove fantastically, but that is how I would expect a car to be in normal drive mode though!
Overall I would have found the Passat a great BabyDrive if you only need two rear-facing child seats! Otherwise, you do need to use forward-facing child seats at some stage and those headrests are just a problem! Apart from that and the lag it's a great vehicle inside and out!
The VW Passat scored a five-star ANCAP Safety rating in 2015 and has seven airbags.