How Do I Start This Thing?

The 2006 VW Passat arrives just in time for me to jump in and pick my kids up from school. Admittedly, I'm running a tad late, but what's new? I jump in, adjust the seat (which I'll get to a little later) and mirrors and try to start the car. Just how do I start this thing?

There's no key, just a key fob and a slot that it seems to fit in. It doesn't turn however. Okay, I'm running way too late now to fuss with it, so out comes the owner's manual. Let's see -- insert the key fob, and press in to start. Whatever happened to turning a key to start a car's engine? It's a little strange at first, but I quickly adapt and am soon running errands like a champ in the '06 Passat.

Now back to those seats. There's a power switch to recline the driver's seat, and a power lumbar adjuster, but would you believe that I actually have to move my seat up and forward manually! Now, I don't like to think of myself as prissy or spoiled, but it seems very strange that this little 'luxe car with leather seats, seat heat, navigation, satellite radio, sunroof and more doesn't have power-adjusting seats. Why would they take the time and effort to make a power lumbar adjuster (does anyone actually use that?), yet I have to pump a lever to raise my seat high enough to see.

The steering wheel adjusts both up and down as well as telescoping in and out, allowing me to find a comfortable fit after all.

Don't Try This at Home

The rear seat of the Passat fits two children and their car seats comfortably. My older child in a booster seat is able to open the door, climb in and buckle her seatbelt independently. Trying to squeeze in a third child for morning carpool, however, leaves me with a huge headache. I manage to push and pull the seats so that I can fit a third child (and second booster seat) in the middle, but getting the kids out of those seats is another story. So the moral is, don't try this at home! The Passat is not built for three child safety seats.

Storage compartments in this car are pretty efficient. The front doors have space for water bottles (or a canister of wet wipes) with room left over to store my office-on-the-go (letter-size files and kids' coloring books mingle happily here). The small pop-out container at the back of the center console, facing the rear passengers, proves to be a pain, however. As my children climb in, out and through this car, that storage bin keeps catching on their feet and popping out.

On a much "cooler" note, the center console and glove box have air vents in them allowing me to direct AC into those compartments, keeping my kids' drinks and snacks cool while driving. That's innovation!

Family-Friendly Features Come Standard

The 2006 VW Passat comes equipped with some family-friendly safety features, and what's even better is that they're standard equipment, so budget-conscious families need not be left out: Driver and front passenger front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, Side Curtain Protection® head airbags for front and rear passengers, pinch protection on the power windows and a tire pressure monitoring system (after a recent cold spell, the system is telling me my tire pressure is too low).

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