Volkswagen dropped the cloth on its new midsize sedan, and although its new in body it retains the same old Passat nameplate.
The 2012 Volkswagen Passat was developed specifically for the North American market, which means it's proportions are bigger and fatter. Riding on a longer wheelbase, its overall length has grown from from 187.6 to 191.7 inches. The longer wheelbase opens up more legroom in the second row and puts the family sedan it more in line with its competitors.
Buyers will have three engines to choose from, starting with the standard 170-hp 2.5-liter five cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual. Notably, VW added a 2.0-liter TDI option to the Passat. The diesel engine produces 140-hp and 236 ft. lbs. torque and is expected to achieve 43 mpg on the highway and an 800-mile range on a tank of fuel. It's equipped with a six-speed automatic, but buyers can upgrade to the 6-speed DSG. If fuel economy isn't a strong factor, the Passat is also available with the sporty 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6 engine, which is mated to the 6-speed DSG.
The Passat may have grown in size, but its price has shrunk considerably. The base model will start at only $20,000--a price cut of almost $7,000 from the outgoing model. That rollback should help Volkswagen increase sales going forward, but it has a long way to go to reach that target of 1 million units by 2018, with Audi accounting for 20 percent of sales. The carmaker sold 256,830 vehicles in 2010, of which only 12,497 were Passats.