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2020 VW Passat sketched ahead of Detroit debut

Volkswagen's updated midsize sedan gets a little more style, but largely stays the course.

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Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
2 min read
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The new Passat's design borrows heavily from the Jetta sedan.

Volkswagen

new Passat is bound for the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January. But since this isn't a brand-new, ground-up redesign, the changes will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. A set of teaser sketches released Wednesday only further confirms this. The updated will have a few noticeable tweaks, but overall, it'll largely stay the course.

In fact, the 2020 Passat kind of looks like it'll just be a pumped-up . The smaller sedan's grille and headlight design makes its way to the Passat, with stylized, rounded-off lower air vents. Around back, the sedan looks to have more of a fastback shape than before -- something Roadshow's Emme Hall confirmed while testing a Passat prototype earlier this month. That's good for style, but bad for rear headroom.

The Passat will not move to Volkswagen's modular MQB platform in this update, so it'll be leaving a lot of the automaker's latest tech on the table. Full-speed adaptive cruise control won't be on offer, and we're told the car won't get VW's excellent Digital Cockpit gauge cluster, either.

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The 2020 Passat will have a more heavily raked roofline than before.

Volkswagen

Every 2020 Passat will be powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 engine, with 174 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will handle shifting duties, and the Passat will only be offered with front-wheel drive.

A number of trim levels will be available, including a sporty-ish R-Line variant with large, 19-inch wheels. Otherwise, look for LED headlights and taillights to grace all Passat trims, as well as an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite radio.

Following its unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2020 Passat will go on sale in the first half of 2019.

2020 Volkswagen Passat: Still in camouflage

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