2012 Volkswagen Passat
With the 2012 Passat, Volkswagen is moving their mid-size sedan out of the enthusiast realm and straight into the Camry and Accord mainstream. Just as they did with the compact Jetta, the new Passat goes up in size, but down in price. And it's also now made here, in a brand new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Passat's increased size is readily apparent from any angle. Sharp body lines and a sloping roof make for a look that's a little classier and less sporty than before, and totally like Jetta's big brother. 16, 17, and 18-inch wheels are available. The larger outside pays off handsomely inside where increased leg and shoulder room are much appreciated, as are the high quality materials and the impressive Fender sound system.
Rear seat leg room is now best in class, and there's more trunk space than Camry or Accord. The only time the new Passat isn't noticeably bigger is when driving it. Though ride quality is on the soft side, it retains a solid, Germanic feel in corners.
Front-drive powertrains range from a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-5, to a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter VR6, to our favorite, the 2-liter TDi clean diesel. All-wheel-drive is not in the picture for now.
"With the new Passat, Volkswagen is pretty much just following the formula they established with the Jetta last year. And that's making it a lot bigger and charging less for it. It seems to have worked with the Jetta, and now we'll see if it works for the Passat as well." – Brian Robinson
The new Passat goes on sale this fall with prices starting around $20,000, and that includes 3 years of scheduled maintenance.
Price: Starting around $20,000