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First Look: 2016 Volkswagen Passat Review by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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2016 Volkswagen Passat

Restyled and Upgraded

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor

        • SEE ALSO: VW Research and Buyers Guide

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2016 Volkswagen Passat

THE HAGUE - November 5, 2015: Several weeks ago, amidst the eye of the storm of the diesel scandal, Volkswagen presented its renewed Passat. It may be awkward timing, but life goes on and so does the introduction of the 2016 model of VW’s midsize sedan.

A year ago, I drove the completely new Passat, but that model was not destined for the North American market. The one variant that is built in Tennessee, is the one that we will see here and for the 2016-model year, it has been restyled and upgraded, and will be available with both gasoline and diesel engines. Indeed they will be compliant with the EPA regulations.

It was, of course, the manipulation of software of the EA189 diesel engine was totally wrong and it was a severe misjudgment of the people responsible to think they would get away with this. As we all know, they have been proven wrong, and have badly damaged their company’s name and financial status. Notwithstanding the damaged image of the brand, VW drivers themselves do not seem to be very worried about their car’s engine. There are several people in my neighborhood who own a model with the offending engine, but they say that they have always been happy with performance as well as with the fuel consumption. In Europe, customers already known for a long time that advertised figures, both of diesel and gasoline engines, can never be met in daily life. Their only worry so far is the resale value.

Committed to Chattanooga
In the meantime, the Volkswagen Group came up with some positive news by reaffirming its commitment to expanding the Chattanooga facility. Volkswagen plans to invest a total of around $900 million in the production of a new seven-seater SUV that is planned to go in production by the end of 2016. For the plant in Tennessee alone, this means an investment of $600 million and the creation of two thousand additional jobs.

According to Michael Horn, president and CEO Volkswagen Group of America: “The U.S. continues to be one of the most important markets for Volkswagen and our commitment to Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee is clear proof of that. The Chattanooga plant is a core part of our strategy in North America. Here and throughout the region, we will work toward meeting the demands of our U.S. customers and regaining their trust in the Volkswagen brand.”

Volkswagen is not only investing in a new production line for the new SUV, but also has established a new Engineering and Planning Center in Chattanooga, which allows the car manufacturer to quickly and more efficiently implement market specific changes to vehicles.

Bolder design

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2016 Volkswagen Passat
Now, let’s look at the 2016 Passat that shows tightened family ties with the European model and the 2017 Tiguan, thanks to the new look with a bolder design of the grille and bumpers. Newly designed are also the hood and trunk lid, the front fenders, and the head and tail lights that are now optionally available with LED headlights and tail lights - a premiere for the VW sedans. Only the doors, roof and rails are carried over from the outgoing model.

The optional R Line trim has different rocker panels, black accents in the front bumper, a rear panel that looks like a diffuser and unique 19-inch wheels with 235/40 tyres.

Up-to-date connectivity
The interior has also been reworked and upgraded. The new Passat now gets VW’s MIB (Modular Infotainment) II system with a touch screen in two different sizes, depending on the package. Volkswagen expects that most customers will chose the touch-and-swipe screen that's similar to smart phones or tablets. Such screens will also react to your hand coming close and pop up controls. The system has been set up to work with VW Car-Net, Apply CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, so that it can work with the owner’s smartphone.

Extended safety equipment
Just like its European twin brother, the US-version will feature a slew of high-tech safety systems as standard equipment . Among other features, this includes a rear view camera and Automatic Post-Collision Braking, which prevents the car crashing into other objects after an initial impact.

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2016 Volkswagen Passat

Optional features available (depending on trim level) are Adaptive Cruise Control, forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitor with rear traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and parking steering assist.

There are no changes under the hood, as the engines of the outgoing model are carried over in the 2016 Passat: the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder TSI direct injected turbo engine, the 280 hp strong 3.6-liter VR6 and the 2-liter diesel motor. Since the sale of the TDI models have been suspended, it is not known yet when the diesel model will be available again.

Prices start at $22,440 (MSRP) for the Passat 1.8T S model with automatic transmission, Climatronic, dual-zone climate control, the above mentioned infotainment system, CD-player, aux-in and Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The LED Lighting Package costs $1,245.

The R-Line, a first for the US-Passat, starts at $ 23,975 and features 19-inch wheels, special rocker panels and a different bumper with black accents and a rear diffuser.

The prices of the top model, the V6 SEL Premium, equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 teamed to 6-speed DSG automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Hill Hold Control, start at $ 36,835 MSRP.