The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat has created a new, sky-high standard in the mid-size luxury sedan class.
Here is a mid-size sedan with the space and comfort of many full-size models, offering remarkable, best-in-class, stretch-out rear-seat legroom and trunk space to match.
The Passat TDI version—the only clean diesel option in the segment—delivers an estimated 43 miles per gallon on the highway with the manual transmission, with a range of almost 800 miles. That’s New York to Chicago, San Francisco to Seattle. On one tank.
And it is being built in Chattanooga, Tenn., in a plant with a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. One key measure at the plant is the use a painting process without any filler, which reduces CO2 emissions by about 20 percent.
If all that wasn’t impressive enough, the 2012 Passat comes with a starting MSRP of just $19,995 for a five-cylinder model with standard dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth® connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, and all scheduled maintenance covered under Volkswagen’s no-charge three-year/36,000-mile Carefree Maintenance program.
The Passat’s balanced proportions give it a unique, timeless and dominant styling, reflecting the new Volkswagen Design DNA developed by Walter de Silva, the Italian design chief for the Volkswagen Group, and Klaus Bischoff, the German design leader for the Volkswagen Brand.
The signature clean design, with a predominance of horizontal body elements, reinforces the Passat’s position as the sophisticated choice in the midsize segment. The bottom line: this car looks a lot more expensive than it actually is.
The key identifying feature of a strong brand is the styling of its front end. Here the Passat displays the new horizontal brand face, with the three-blade grille and headlights forming a single unit.
The Passat’s grille is sculpted in a three-dimensional shape and stands more upright and makes a more distinctive and elegant impression in its stricter geometry. Beneath the front bumper is a large, lower intake with a striking honeycomb surface and available corner-illuminating foglights housed at each end.
From the side profile, the muscular ridge in the sill area creates a lively interplay of light reflections. Powerfully sculpted wheel arches emphasize the dynamic properties of the Passat. To emphasize the aerodynamic styling of the Passat, the roof lines flow toward the back with a nearly coupe-like cut of the rear window. Three side windows create luxury-class style with a long, extended glass surface.
The rear section is also dominated by horizontal lines. The lines of the large taillights rise toward the sides, underscoring the dynamics of the elegant rear styling. Another unique feature here is the design of the two-part taillights that are integrated in the rear fender and trunk lid.
This is a generously-proportioned four-door sedan and the largest Passat ever. Nose to tail it measures 191.6 inches and features a stretched 110.4-inch wheelbase and 72.2-inch width, which allows such exceptional rear-seat space.
The 2012 Passat is unique in the Volkswagen family in that it was designed and specifically tailored for American tastes and American lifestyles.
So the cabin of the all-new Passat delivers space, and plenty of it. There’s room for five adults to really stretch out in comfort. And with four large, wide-opening doors, getting in and out is a cinch.
There’s also a true elegance and simplicity about the layout. Nothing here is trendy or over-done. The lines flow in an easy-on-the-eye style, complimented by the highest-quality materials applied with painstaking attention to detail.
The instrument panel is similar to that of Volkswagen’s flagship model, the all-new Touareg. Available chrome-trimmed gauges surround a digital multifunction display. A high-end chrome look is also applied to the air vents in the cockpit, and to the surrounds of the radio, navigation system and the climate control panels. The rotary light switch and parking brake handle button are also treated in chrome. Except for the base version, all other Passat trims have chrome interior accents on the window, mirror adjustment and trunk opening switches.
The seats are exceptionally comfortable, with an emphasis on providing extra side- and under-thigh support for long-distance road trips. Even in the base version, the driver’s seat adjusts eight ways, including lumbar, while most models feature eight-way power adjustment. Inviting cloth trim is offered with the base S model, with the SE versions feature Volkswagen’s trademark perforated V-Tex leatherette, and SEL models moving up to full leather seating surfaces.
New Fender® Premium Audio
There is no shortage of entertainment system options with the 2012 Passat—but the most exciting is the brand new Fender Premium Audio System, which was designed to bring the raw emotion of a live music performance to the driving experience.
The system was developed through collaboration between Fender, the legendary music amplification experts, who also make some of the coolest guitars for the rock star elite, and Panasonic®. It cranks out 400 watts of power played through nine speakers, including a trunk-mounted subwoofer.
And the same cool, chromed Fender logo that has graced the guitar ‘amps’ of some of the world’s music legends, is featured on the A-pillar tweeters on the Passat’s Fender system.
Engines and Transmissions
The all-new Passat offers three drivetrain options: a responsive 2.5-liter gasoline engine, a remarkably fuel efficient 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel and a powerful 3.6-liter VR6®.
The refined, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine features double chain-driven overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and maintenance-free hydraulic lifters. It makes 177-horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque and is available with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, or with an optional six-speed automatic.
The 2.0-liter TDI® Clean Diesel in-line four-cylinder engine produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.
It delivers an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 43 mpg on the highway when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, giving a range of 795 miles on one tank of ultra-low-sulfur clean diesel. The TDI engine is equipped with a Selective Catalytic Reduction System (SCR), a clean engine that fulfills emissions requirements in all 50 states.
Optional on the Passat TDI Clean Diesel is Volkswagen’s DSG® six-speed automatic. This dual-clutch transmission is considered the most-efficient automatic in the world. It incorporates a dual-clutch system that instantly engages and disengages gears without the need for a clutch pedal. With a special computer controlling the process, one clutch is engaged on the next gear, while the clutch from the previous gear is released.
The results are crisp, quick shifts, without the loss of power that is experienced with a traditional manual gearbox. It’s the perfect choice for drivers who want the performance of a traditional manual transmission with the precision of an automatic.
The 3.6 liter VR6 makes the new Passat a top-flight sport sedan. Producing an impressive 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it offers power and luxury-class driving comfort, with European-type restraint in its fuel consumption—the EPA highway estimate is 28 mpg. Shifting on the new Passat VR6 is handled by a standard six-speed DSG.
The 2012 Passat has been designed to feature the kind of dynamic, involved handling and precise steering drivers have come to expect of a Volkswagen. The new Passat may be a big car, but it drives small.
Its front suspension features the proven Volkswagen formula of struts with robust lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. At the rear, there’s a sophisticated four-link independent layout with telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. The axle is acoustically de-coupled from the body to help reduce road noise or vibration.
The steering system comprises a power-assisted rack-and-pinion set-up, perfectly weighted to provide a balance between precision at higher speeds, and lower steering weight at parking speeds. Swinging into that tight, mall parking spot is easy, thanks to the Passat’s 36.4-foot turning radius and three turns lock-to-lock.
Safety and Security
Safety is not on the option list at Volkswagen, which is why every 2012 Passat comes with a comprehensive suite of active and passive safety features.
Safety starts with a specially-reinforced safety cage, complete with anti-intrusion side beams and forged steel roof B-pillars. Behind the sleek nose, there is a crash-optimized front-end featuring integrated impact-absorbing elements that help minimize the collision energy.
Naturally, every new 2012 Passat comes with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) that helps compensate for oversteer or understeer by applying individual corrective forces to each of the wheels. Also standard is an Anti-lock Braking System, Hydraulic Brake Assist, Tire Pressure Monitoring, and Volkswagen’s acclaimed Intelligent Crash Response System. In the event of a collision it automatically unlocks the doors, shuts off the fuel pump, and even turns on the hazard warning lights.
The six standard airbags include driver and front passenger front and side thorax airbags, together with Side Curtain Protection® airbags front and rear.
Peace of mind in owning a new Passat comes from Volkswagen’s no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. It covers all scheduled maintenance for the length of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which is three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The all-new 2012 Passat is offered in three trim levels, S, SE and SEL, with a total of 16 equipment levels. All offer first-class safety and comfort.
With pricing starting at $19,995 for the five-speed manual transmission model, its key features include: Climatronic® air-conditioning; hill hold control; multi-function steering wheel with audio and phone controls; central locking system with remote control keys; powered exterior mirrors; automatic headlights with ‘coming home’ function; trip computer; RCD 310 radio with CD player and six speakers; aux-in; Bluetooth®; 60/40 split rear seat; lumbar for driver seat.
This adds 17-inch Sonoma alloy wheels with all-season tires; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces; power driver seat and lumbar; heated front seats; highline instrumentation cluster with multifunction display; leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with audio and phone controls; auto-dimming rearview mirror; power and heated exterior side mirrors; leather-wrapped hand brake and shift knob; Premium VIII touch-screen radio with six-CD in-dash changer and eight speakers.
This features a bumper with chrome accents, Homelink®, footwell lighting, Radio Navigation System RNS 510, Fender premium sound system, comfort sport seats, and rear seat pass-through.
2.5 SEL Premium
This adds leather seating surfaces, keyless access and push-button start, foglights, driver seat memory and eight-way power passenger seat.
TDI Clean Diesel SE
This features 17-inch alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating, 8eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, and sliding front center armrest.
TDI Clean Diesel SEL Premium
This adds 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces, comfort sport seats, RNS 510 Navigation, Fender Premium Audio System, driver seat memory, wood grain interior trim, and eight-way power passenger seat.
3.6 SE with Sunroof
Standard features on this model include: six-speed DSG; 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels,; V-Tex leatherette seating; sunroof; eight-way power driver seat; heated front seats; touchscreen Premium VIII radio, Fender Premium Sound System; chrome dual exhaust; and fog lights.
3.6 SEL Premium
This flagship model adds leather seating surfaces, keyless entry with push-button start, RNS 510 navigation, driver seat memory, wood grain interior décor, eight-way power passenger seat, and interior chrome accents.