Volkswagen has built its reputation on affordable, high-quality vehicles and has always found unique ways to stay ahead of the competition. The 2012 Volkswagen Passat sets the bar higher yet again and was recently named 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year.
The 2012 Passat is a huge value. For a starting price that even lightly optioned compact models have no problem blasting right through, you can pick up a midsized sedan that’s on the large end of its class. The clean, handsome bodywork carries a timeless elegance. The Volkswagen family resemblance is clear in the unfussy lines that won’t look embarrassingly dated anytime soon. In fact, the Volkswagen design team has infused the Passat with a look that comes off to most onlookers as far more expensive than it happens to be. It’s your choice to tell them that the car only looks like a million bucks.
The 2012 Volkswagen Passat offers three distinct trim levels: The Passat 2.5S (MSRP $19,995) is crazy-affordable and crazy-well-equipped. There’s an energetic 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine producing 177 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque, and some highlights from the long standard features list include Climatronic® air conditioning, six-speaker audio system with CD, auxiliary input and Bluetooth® hands-free. There are audio and communications controls on the steering wheel, and even powered exterior mirrors and automatic headlamps.
Moving to the Passat 2.5 SE outfits this handsome sedan with standard-17 inch Sonoma alloy wheels, V-Tex upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver, an instrument cluster incorporating a multifunction display nestled in place behind a leather-wrapped steering wheel, self-dimming rear-view mirror, power-adjustable heated exterior mirrors and a Premium VIII touchscreen audio system featuring six-disc capacity and eight speakers.
You’ll easily spot the Passat 2.5 SEL if you look for the chrome accents on the bumper. The interior gains footwell lighting, sport seats, a rear-seat pass-through and the RNS 510 radio Navigation System that plays through a premium Fender® sound system. Leather seats are part of the Premium Equipment Package, which also includes the convenience of keyless entry and push button starting. Foglamps, driver’s seat memory and eight-way power adjustment for the front passenger’s seat are also included in the Premium Equipment Package.
Alternate powertrain options for the 2012 Passat include the extremely efficient 2.0-liter TDI® Clean Diesel engine. This highly regarded four-cylinder diesel engine makes 140 hp and an exceptional 236 lb/ft of torque while turning in a fuel logbook that reflects an astounding 795-mile range from a single tank of fuel. That works out to an EPA highway economy estimate of 43 mpg of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. The TDI is a high-tech engine that features a turbocharger, direct fuel injection and a Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR) to meet tailpipe emissions requirements for all 50 states.
The TDI engine is a special powerplant that only Volkswagen can offer, and so is the other propulsion option, Volkswagen’s innovative 3.6-liter VR6. This engine’s 280 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque transform the 2012 Passat into a sports sedan. The disciplined chassis that underpins every Passat can handle all the power that any of the engines can throw down and still drive a size smaller than it actually is. Quick reflexes, controlled ride motions and a high level of refinement are delivered by the strut front suspension and four-link rear axle setup, both augmented by anti-rollbars to keep cornering attitudes under control. The power rack-and-pinion steering system varies its assist to give you the perfect level of boost in parking lots and out on the highway.
The innovative engineering isn’t limited to the engines Volkswagen outfits the 2012 Passat with. Automatic transmission duties are taken up by the motorsports-inspired Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG), which is standard with the VR6. The six-speed DSG can snap off gear changes much quicker than traditional automatics, and it operates far more efficiently, too. Volkswagen stands behind its innovation with a no-charge Carefree Maintenance program that takes care of scheduled maintenance for the three-year/36,000-mile warranty period.
The 2012 Volkswagen Passat has your back on safety, too. The body has a safety cage designed with anti-intrusion side beams and B-pillars made of forged steel. Electronic Stability Control is standard, and the Volkswagen Intelligent Crash Response System automatically unlocks the doors, shuts off the fuel pump and activates the hazard flashers. The six standard airbags have you covered with front, side thorax and side curtain protection.
One of the most intriguing details about the 2012 Passat is that it’s built in a brand new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. German engineering expertise may be clearly on display throughout the 2012 Passat, but the precision build quality is the handiwork of your compatriots working inside a brand new facility designed to have minimal environmental impact.
There’s no firmer vote of confidence in the North American auto market than that, and the 2012 Volkswagen Passat shows that Volkswagen is committed to offering American buyers a midsize sedan par excellence at a virtually unbeatable price. America, this is your midsized VW.