Built by American workers at a new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., and “sized for America,” the 2012 Volkswagen Passat is, for all intents and purposes, a new car compared to previous generations.
The prior-generation Passat, which reached our shores in 2010, offered German styling and appointments but couldn’t be bought for less than $27,000. Its newborn American cousin is longer, roomier and, with a starting MSRP of $19,995, ready to compete with established players in the mid-size sedan segment such as Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and many more.
In addition to cutting shipping costs, VW found savings by deleting the wagon and four-wheel drive options and limiting the choice of engines to three proven powerplants: A 2.5-liter I-4 borrowed from the new Jetta, replaces the base 2.0-liter turbo; VW’s 2.0 TDI Clean Diesel offers 48 mpg on the highway and a one-tank range of up to 800 miles; or power seekers can opt for a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 280 hp at 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
There’s no noticeable downgrade in the interior. The new Passat retains its predecessor’s classy look and feel and adds 3.7 inches between the wheels, creating best-in-class rear-seat legroom and plenty of cargo capacity. A standard 60/40 split back seat offers a wide opening to the cavernous trunk.
The base S model comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, automatic dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth compatibility and eight-speaker audio; opting for the Appearance package adds alloy wheels, automatic transmission and a rear-seat center armrest. Safety measures such as a full complement of airbags and Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response system are standard across the lineup.
The SE trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, heated front seats and a six-way power driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery and more, plus available options such as bigger wheels, a sunroof and navigation. Opting for the V-6 gets you all those options and a new, nine-speaker Fender audio system. The top-of-the-line SEL editions include all the above, plus keyless remote ignition, foglights, leather-and-faux-suede interior and foglights.
As a company car, the new Passat offers style, craftsmanship and room for four adults of executive height and carriage. It’s not technically an American car, but it’s close.
Originally posted on Business Fleet