What is it? The all-new, American-built Volkswagen Passat is larger than the car it replaces. For the U.S. market, it will be offered with three powertrains: 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder; 280-hp, 3.6-liter V6; and 140-hp, 2.0-liter turbodiesel. VW claims the diesel model will achieve 43 mpg on the highway, with up to an 800-mile range per tank. VW has promised its s4Motion all-wheel-drive system will be available.
What is new or notable? VW is focusing on value, with a starting price claimed to be "around $20,000."
CR's take: Volkswagen has said it aims to sell as many cars as Ford or Nissan in the United States. To reach that goal, it is working to reduce its production costs on new models and lower prices. From what we've seen of this strategy so far on the redesigned Jetta, we haven't been impressed with the results. The company's once-vaunted interior quality is returning to run-of-the-mill, and it has even revived some relatively unrefined and underpowered engines from its past to cut costs. As a result, its reputation for fun-to-drive German engineering at a relatively affordable price is at risk. We're relieved that the new Passat doesn't seem to take the new Jetta's decontenting to the same extent. Interior quality is impressive with a soft-touch dash and most switchgear is borrowed from the Touareg. Rear seat room is huge. However, to align pricing with sales-leaders Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Passat features an outdated base engine. The 2.0-liter turbo may be added in the future.
When will it be available? Summer 2011