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2012 Volkswagen Passat Review by Marty Bernstein +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Volkswagen Passat


Volkswagen Buyers Guide 1997-2012
2012 Sedans Sold In North America Ranked By Rear Leg Room


By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor-at-Large
The Auto Channel

VW realized they had to combine German engineering, design and quality with a heavy dose of what American’s want in a four door family sedan to have an appealing vehicle. To accomplish this rather lofty goal, over $1 billion was invested in a sparkling new factory in Tennessee and countless millions more were expended in creating the new vehicle. How did they do? Quite well actually.

On a recent visit to the new facility I was first impressed by the almost obsessive, okay it was obsessive attention to quality on the assembly line in this state-of-the-art production center. The new Passat possesses many features most American’s will appreciate including an almost $7 thousand dollar drop in price from the previous Passat model. And did it by improving the new American attitude model which translates into more for less. And isn’t that nice?

As the new addition to the competitive mid-size car category Passat had to it better and in areas that are of importance. Most mid-size sedans have a back seat, but requires an extreme body bending yoga exercise known as hip-wrenching-knee-strain to seat two adults. The Passat has a limo-lite backseat with enuf legroom for Michael my 6’5” son (and co-writer) and his beautiful 6’ tall wife to be seated … almost comfortably. Friends who aren’t that tall – average height – were very comfortable. And egress and aggress – auto-speak for getting in and out of vehicle was also good for both the tall and not so tall. It’s the benefit of the new model’s added length and width.

Watch the introduction of the 2012 Passat at the Detroit Auto Show

The body design is smooth and aerodynamic without being outlandish or avante garde trendy. It’s quiet and understated which sends a message of quality that’s not going to become tiresome or outdated. The interior is comfortable with nice touches but less designer-like impressive than the previous model which was at bit over the top in materials which ramped up the cost too. Less is less, but still nice. The so called infotainment – music, navigation, ac, etc. – systems are well designed with audio from Sight lines were clean to the front, both sides and the back.

There are three engine choices starting with the base model 5-cylinder with 170 hp and 177 torque with okay mpg of 22/31 when paired with the automatic and almost the same mpg with a manual stick shifting vehicle. There’s an over the top 3. 6 liter V6 monster with 280 horses and 288 torque rating. But for me the best mpg-er will be the VW TDI diesel. It’s a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel with 140 hp and 236 lbs of torque that gets a whooping 31/43 rating, again both automatic and manual available.

Driving the Passat is pleasant experience. The handling, steering, power and ride are all interconnected and work harmoniously. That’s German engineering at its best. This is not a supercar, it’s a family sedan and does very well and will respond when needed.

If a family sedan is on your shopping list this year, check out the American made Passat at a VW dealer to see the three base models, three trim levels with a starting price of $19,995.

Say hello to a good buy, you‘all.

Watch TACH's exclusive VW Passat promo video