The Volkswagen Passat is a midsize sedan that was introduced in Europe in 1973. In the U.S., the first- and second-generation models were marketed as the Dasher and Quantum, respectively. The Passat name wasn’t introduced to the U.S. market until its third generation, which was offered in both sedan and wagon body styles.
2012 to Present: Volkswagen Passat
The current-generation Volkswagen Passat was introduced for 2012. Unlike previous models, it features a design that is different from the European-spec Passat. This model is offered as a sedan only; the previous wagon was dropped.
Built in Tennessee, the current Volkswagen Passat was developed with the American consumer in mind. Thus, it has a roomier interior to compete more effectively with models such as the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata. At the same time, it maintains the handling attributes Volkswagen owners have long prized.
The Volkswagen Passat is marked by a long hood and a short rear deck. It also sports the familiar front fascia of other Volkswagen models, with a narrow horizontal grille hemmed in by oversized headlamps. A sporty lower grille opening is also present. Other notable features include a rising beltline, profile character lines, body sculpting and available alloy wheels.
Inside, the Passat has room for five with a 60/40 split-folding rear seat providing access to the trunk. All models offer keyless entry, power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control and an audio system. Available options bring in navigation, a power moonroof, heated front seats and leather upholstery.
When it launched, the base Passat came with a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that’s paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Also available is a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 140 horsepower, which is mated to six-speed manual or a six-speed automated manual transmission. A third engine choice is a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 that comes with a six-speed automatic.
For 2013, the Wolfsburg Edition joined the trim lineup and a rearview camera was made available for the first time. Volkswagen dropped the base five-cylinder engine the following year, replacing it with a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter four cylinder. The rearview camera was made standard on most trims, and a new telematics interface made its debut.
The turbodiesel engine received a 10-horsepower boost and slightly improved fuel economy for 2015, but was dropped from the lineup the following year. The Passat also received mild changes to the exterior and interior for 2016, including a new center stack. The rearview camera was made standard for 2016 and a dedicated USB port was added. Also, the sporty R-Line trim was introduced.
The Volkswagen Passat has numerous competitors, including the aforementioned Altima, Fusion and Sonata. Additional choices in the segment include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda6, Kia Optima and Subaru Legacy.
Earlier Volkswagen Passat Models
Previous-generation Volkswagen Passat models were based on the same design offered in other markets. The fourth-generation Passat was offered from 1998 to 2005. The fifth-generation Passat was sold from 2006 to 2010. No 2011 model was built.
Upon its debut, the fourth-generation Volkswagen Passat was powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Also available was a turbodiesel 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The diesel was dropped after one model year and in 2004 a 2.0-liter turbodiesel took its place. A third engine choice was a 2.8-liter V6.
In 2000, an all-wheel-drive variant of the V6 model was introduced. Volkswagen introduced an all-wheel-drive model with a 4.0-liter V8 engine two years later. Known as the W8, this top-end Passat was produced for three years.
The fifth-generation Volkswagen Passat debuted in 2006, coming in 3 inches longer and wider than the previous model. New gasoline engines were introduced and the diesel engine was discontinued.
This model’s standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 200 horsepower. It is paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Also available is a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and available with front- or all-wheel drive. For 2009, Volkswagen dropped the all-wheel-drive model and the V6 engine.