Volkswagen’s push to mainstream themselves into the North American car market continues with the new 2012 Passat. VW is seeking out greater marketshare by tailoring their cars to what they perceive as ‘American’ tastes, the main driving force is cutting the base price to the core, while making a larger car. And, it appears to be working. I readily admit I’m a VW purist, and the 2011 Jetta positively broke my heart, but the numbers do not lie. Sales of the Jetta are up nearly 60% from a year ago. So while I whine about the Jetta losing its mojo, more buyers are opening their wallets.
The 2012 Passat will be built at a brand new facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At first glance, the Passat simply looks like a larger Jetta. The unique, European flair of prior Passats has been traded in for a more homogenous look to compete with the Accord and Camry. The Passat is not a bad looking car at all, but the panache Ã‚Â it once had is gone. Also gone is the Passat wagon, and the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive.
All Passats are front-wheel drive four door sedans, with a choice of three engines. Pricing and features are listed below, is USD.
2.5L $19,995 As expected, VW went under 20k for the base Passat. What you get is the familiar 2.5L inline five, rated at 170hp, paired to a five speed manual. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, and steering wheel audio controls.
2.5L SE $23,725 The five-cylinder Passat is available in 8 trim levels, but my perception is that VW thinks this trim level will be the bread and butter Passat. The SE adds 17″ alloys, power drivers seat, heated seats, and a touch screen audio system.
2.0L TDI $25,895 VW’s smooth and torquey 140 hp oil burner is available with either a six-speed manual or DSG tranny. 17″ alloys, touch screen audio and heated seats are standard. The Passat is the only mid-size sedan sold in the US with a diesel engine. VW promises 43mpg on the highway, with a tank range of 800 miles.
3.6L VR6 $28,995 The top-spec Passat features a 280hp V-6. The only transmission available is a 6-speed DSG. 18″ alloys, Fender audio system and sunroof come standard.