2018 Volkswagen Passat GT
Test Drive & Review w/ Randy Halcomb

The 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT packs a whole-lotta sports sedan into a ridiculously reasonably-priced package.

The Passat GT’s exterior and interior Euro-styling beckons its luxury sister-brand Audi with every detailed element of fit and finish.

Randy Halcomb from Ontario Volkswagen recently invited me for an afternoon test drive of the 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT. In this iDSC Podcast he joins me for a detailed and exciting review.

And, as a special bonus for iDSC Podcast listeners, Randy shares his personal cell phone.

If you’re interested in the Volkswagen Passat GT, or curious about another model in the German carmaker’s line-up, you can reach Randy directly @ 909-772-1728 or email him @ RHalcomb [at] OntarioVW.com.

2018 VW Passat GT pictured as par of the iDriveSoCal103 VW Passat GT Review Banner

***Transcript***

Recording date – July 17, 2018 at in Ontario, CA

Tom Smith: I got to drive the 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT. And that’s a top-of-the-line sport version of the Passat, and V6 engine with 3.6 liter, 280 horsepower, putting out 258 pound feet of torque.

Randy Halcomb: It definitely had enough giddy up and go. It’s very responsive. As soon as you touch the gas.

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. Tom Smith here with my good buddy, Randy Halcomb from Ontario Volkswagen. Randy, thanks for joining me again.

Randy Halcomb: Hi, Tom. Thank you for having me again.

Tom Smith: We are out at Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California. And this little ditty that we’re about to head down the path of — It’s cute, isn’t it? This little ditty we’re about to head down the path of. Vehicle review, the 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT. I just drove that thing, and fun, F-U-N.

If I can take a page out of the Professor’s little playbook here. Well, I got to drive the 2018 Volkswagen Passat GT. And that’s a top-of-the-line sport version of the Passat, and V6 engine with 3.6 liter, 280 horsepower, putting out 258 pound feet of torque. And as Randy can attest as he drove with me in this test drive, I had a hard time not chirping the tires every time we came from a dead stop to accelerating. It was fun.

Randy Halcomb: Yeah. It definitely had enough giddy up and go. It’s very responsive. As soon as you touch the gas, almost a little too responsive, it kind of felt. So, take a little while to get used to.

Tom Smith: Yeah. The tires just chirped a little. I didn’t stay on it in a sense that they were sliding too much, but that’s a very, very fun car. The price point on the 2018 Passat is kind of ridiculous. I mentioned to Randy, every time I hit the accelerator, I realize the sticker, just MSRP, doesn’t make sense. I mean, the MSRP on the vehicle is how much?

Randy Halcomb: It was like $30,000, somewhere in that range of low 30s. To think of getting a vehicle with 280 horsepower for $30,000, a German-engineered is unthinkable.

Tom Smith: Yeah, yeah. Beautiful car too. It has that that Volkswagen red line on the grill that is oh so distinctive, as well as oh so sharp. The one that we drove was silver or gray. I’m not exactly sure what Volkswagen is calling that color.

Randy Halcomb: Yeah, it was the silver.

Tom Smith: But the outside of the vehicle is just absolutely gorgeous. The sport wheels, very cool. Nice accent with the red brake calipers that can be seen through the sport wheels, also very cool. And just, again, that red line with the bold black grill, I think, they call it a honeycomb, if I’m not mistaken, it just really, really is a sharp look to the exterior of the vehicle.

And in going inside the vehicle, the carbon fiber accents, very cool as well. And the seating and overall comfort, very sporty, but, yet, still very, very comfortable, and surprisingly spacious.

Randy Halcomb: One thing is seating. Probably more so in the passenger seat that I noticed was the amount of shoulder space. And the room that I had sitting in the passenger, it almost kind of felt like it was a sedan.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Randy Halcomb: The engine makes me feel like it’s a sports car, but sitting in the seat-

Tom Smith: Right.

Randy Halcomb: … makes me feel like I’m in a full-sized sedan.

Tom Smith: Right, right. And Randy and I are pretty similar sized guys. We’re not small by any stretch, we’re not huge by any stretch, but very, very comfortable for us to be sitting in it. Now, I hopped in the back seat actually when the car was still sitting in the showroom before we went for a drive, and plenty of leg room back there too. So, the vehicle exterior, interior, fantastic.

The tech, the one thing that I absolutely love is the option for Apple CarPlay or, in my world, Android Auto. I love being able to put Waze up there right on the dash, as well as play my podcasts because, you know, I can’t go anywhere without listening to my iDriveSoCal Podcasts.

Randy Halcomb: Absolutely. I got that when I jumped in my truck, and it just starts playing, and it goes through all the different podcasts.

Tom Smith: Right, right. You never listen to my podcast, Randy.

Randy Halcomb: Okay. I have to make sure that it should actually sound all right, you know.

Tom Smith: Yeah. So as I say so often in our podcast, we do it a little bit different. And in this one, Randy and I went for a test drive together. But we don’t usually do that. I usually send Bernadette or Clinton, the Professor Quan, out for a drive. And then, I do the interview with them. But in this case, I said, “Hey, Randy, let’s mix it up a little bit.”

And the cool thing about Ontario Volkswagen, one of the many cool things I like so much is working with Randy Halcomb. And what we’re going to do on the iDriveSoCal website is actually post Randy’s direct information. So, whether you’re interested in a Volkswagen Passat GTI like we drove today, the Atlas, which is there a new SUV, Volkswagen’s new SUV-

Randy Halcomb: Correct.

Tom Smith: … the all new Tiguan, or the Arteon that’s going to be coming out, anything from the family of Golfs, et cetera, you’re going to be able to reach right out to Randy directly.

Randy Halcomb: In fact, I’ll actually give you my personal cellphone, so that you can actually post it on that page.

Tom Smith: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, that’s the thing. Everybody loves getting a new car, everybody, even if it’s used, right?

Randy Halcomb: Yeah, absolutely.

Tom Smith: Everybody loves-

Randy Halcomb: At least, something new to them.

Tom Smith: But it’s the process, the old car dealer kind of car buying process, it’s not the same everywhere. And you guys definitely make it different. That’s why we’re partnered up. And Randy’s here to really be, you know, hey, you’re interested in a Volkswagen, you’re interested in maybe something that Ontario Volkswagen has on their lot, or you want them to track something down for you, hey, here’s Randy’s direct contact info. You know that I know him, that we work together directly. And, you know, boom, there you have it. No shim sham, flim flam. Straight to the-

Randy Halcomb: I’m glad you kind of touched on that a little bit. One of our philosophies here is always try to make the customers’ experience better. And one of the things that we realized is the amount of time that people spend in a dealership to buy a vehicle. So we’ve got a few things that we do online, and via e-mail, and stuff like that that can shorten up the time that a customer spends here in the dealership, almost down to having them in and out within an hour.

And that’s really what is about. I’ve talked to so many different customers buying cars over the last 20 years. The biggest thing was how long it takes to buy a car and how awful the process is. And we strive to change all that make the car buying process something fun, exciting because everybody loves a new car. They just hate the whole buying process.

Tom Smith: There’s all this tech, right. And as you listen to this podcast, you’re listening through tech, but you have various apps and various websites that want to do it for you. And they’re going to drop the car off in your front yard or whatever else. I don’t know about all that. I don’t know about the future. And the thing … There’s a couple things to it. One, the car, my vehicle, is the second most expensive thing I’m ever going to purchase next to my home.

Randy Halcomb: Correct.

Tom Smith: So, with that in mind, I think, I want to be able to shake somebody’s hand, ask them some questions, look them in the eye, and have a little talk about it, you know. I don’t think I’m alone there. And that’s just the personal element. I don’t know that — I don’t buy that that personal element ever will be removed. I’m all for shortening it. To be honest, the last couple of times that I bought cars, what took the longest at the dealer was me and my wife deciding on color.

Randy Halcomb: That’s typically what happens is getting them to decide which trim level or which exact model they want. And then, color always seems to be there. And flipping way back when I first had gotten into the car business I don’t know that color was such a big thing to a lot of our consumers. But as we’ve grown through the-

Tom Smith: Choices.

Randy Halcomb: Yeah, choices, and have grown through the different, all the way up to the millennials now that they want a specific color. And that’s the color that they want. And so they put a little bit of time and effort. I think the average person spends 12 or 13 hours researching the vehicles-

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Randy Halcomb: … and things of that nature. But it’s hard to really see the color of a vehicle unless you’re in person and see it in the light.

Tom Smith: The other element of the car buying process that I don’t think you can ever fully automate, and that is just that, hey, this is an expensive purchase, this is a purchase that involves a lot of documentation. It involves DMV records. It involves license plate. It involves financing. It involves titling. I mean, there’s a lot of things that I don’t know that even if I could do it through an app that I would want to entirely.

Randy Halcomb: There is a lot of moving — I call it a lot of moving parts. And it’s only gotten more documentation that we’ve had to with the regulations and things that nature of having to make sure we’re doing anything for the DMV taxes in the State of California, and so forth. But I think it’s been good because they’ve all been really for the consumer and making sure that they get what they’re bargained for, they get what they’re asking for, and that they don’t get bamboozled, I guess, you could say.

Tom Smith: You have the bad apples, you have the bad cops, but, by and large, apples are great. By and large, cops and police forces are great. And, you know, you have that across the board in all industries and businesses.

Randy Halcomb: I agree.

Tom Smith: So, we slid effectively way off topic-

Randy Halcomb: Yes.

Tom Smith: … from the Passat GT, 2018 Passat GT. But, again, fantastic car. absolutely beautiful styling, love the outside, love the inside. The other thing that I really like about the outside is the side mirrors have that black accent on the side mirrors, which matches nicely the black-accented roof.

Randy Halcomb: It’s almost like the shadow trim. So, you know, it all kind of blends in-

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Randy Halcomb: … a little bit the tint on the window. And it just kind of, you know, looks very, very aesthetically clean.

Tom Smith: Yeah, very sporty, large car for a fantastic price, even at sticker price. And, of course, come in and see Randy, or give me a call on a cellphone, which we’ll have posted on the website. But shoot, Randy, you want to drop it right now?

Randy Halcomb: Yeah. If anybody wants to get in touch with me, you can reach out to me on my personal cellphone, which is 909-772-1728, or even by email, which is RHalcomb [at] OntarioVW.com.

Tom Smith: There you go, Randy Halcomb at your service for all your VW needs right out here at Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California. They’re in the Ontario Auto Mall, which is literally right off the…

Randy Halcomb: We’re located off the 15 Freeway, in between the 10 Freeway and the 60 Freeway.

Tom Smith: Yup. And it’s always the 10 that I wind up making my way here. So, at any rate, Randy, thank you so much as always. Love you guys out here at Ontario Volkswagen, and always appreciate the hospitality. Very nice little drive and afternoon that we had.

Randy Halcomb: That was a lot of fun.

Tom Smith: And look forward to the next time that we have the opportunity to do it, unless you have anything you’d like to add.

Randy Halcomb: Nope. I appreciate everything that you do for us, Tom, and love listening to the podcast. Believe it or not, I do listen to them, and not just the ones about Volkswagen either. So, yeah-

Tom Smith: Thanks, man.

Randy Halcomb: … definitely get some information there.

Tom Smith: Appreciate it. Appreciate it. For iDriveSoCal, I am Tom Smith. Thank you ever so much for listening.

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