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New Passat gets diesel engine, Fender audio system

Volkswagen shows off the 2012 Passat at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

2012 Passat
The 2012 Passat comes out later this year in gasoline or diesel versions. Josh Miller/CNET

DETROIT--Billing it as its New Midsize Sedan preshow, Volkswagen launched the 2012 Passat at the Detroit auto show this week. The car features similar options and design as we saw on the Jetta update last year, with a more stately appearance suitable to the segment.

Some of the design cues on the new Passat are similar to those of the Jetta, but the car has a more upright grille. From the side, it almost looks like an Audi A4. The interior shows a new plushness that should compete well in the midsize segment, and further Volkwagen's goal of gaining U.S. market share.

Engine choices run from a base level 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 3.6-liter V-6, and the 2-liter diesel in the Passat TDI. That latter engine gets the Passat somewhere around 43 mpg. Volkswagen is aiming for a sporty Passat with the V-6 version by making its DSG the only transmission at that level.

Cabin tech options are similar to that of the new Jetta, with a base level flash-based navigation system. That navigation system is limited in features, but Volkswagen will also offer a hard-drive-based system, which should include live traffic.

Most interesting is a new Fender-branded audio system, to be offered in both the Passat and Jetta. This system is supposed to capture the signature Fender sound from nine speakers and a 400-watt amp.

Volkswagen says the base Passat will go for about $20,000, but we expect the V-6 version to be closer to $30,000.