Volkswagen recently introduced its totally new for 2012 Passat. Manufacturers often use the term "totally new" for cars that have just been facelifted but it is used in its truest sense for the new Passat. Not only is it a fresh design from the ground up, it's the first car to be made in the new billion dollar factory VW just built in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is Volkswagen's first effort to build cars in the States since closing their Rabbit plant in Pennsylvania twenty five years ago.
I had the opportunity to see the new Passat in the Dave Walter VW/BMW display at last week's Glenmoor Gathering. The styling is very clean for a mid-size sedan but the real story is below its skin. The interior of this car is nothing short of cavernous. It's hard to believe that the overall length of the this car is only four inches longer than the model it replaced. Although I've always been a VW fan, I've always driven larger Audi sedans because of the additional rear seat legroom they offered. The new Passat seems to have just as much interior space as the A6, if not more.
The other hidden surprise for this car is the availability of a diesel engine with your choice of a manual or automatic transmission. Although it only displaces two liters, it offers 236 pounds-feet of torque and can propel the car from 0-60 mph in just eight seconds. Probably the best statistic of all is that this roomy sedan is rated at 43mpg on the highway with the diesel option. My past experience with VW diesels would suggest that this is a conservative number and actual mileage may be a bit better.
The surprising part of this whole story is that Volkswagen actually lowered the price of the Passat with the introduction of the improved 2012 model. Gas engined models start at just under $20,000 while the entry level diesel is priced at just $25,000. Will this possibly be the diesel engined car that finally wins over the mainstream American consumer?
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