Volkswagen has serious plans for its market share here in North America. The automaker hopes to sell 800,000 cars per year in the United States by the year 2018, and it’s vehicles like the refreshed 2011 Jetta and this, the all-new 2012 Passat, that will be the bread-winners moving forward.
If your first thought about the Passat’s design is “big Jetta,” you aren’t alone. The last-generation Passat wasn’t exactly a looker, but at least it stood out within Volkswagen’s lineup. The new Passat honestly and truly looks like a longer, wider, taller Jetta, and the nondescript design language makes it look extremely unforgettable. It isn’t bad looking, but it doesn’t spark any emotion within us.
Much like the Jetta, the Passat gets a much lower price point for the 2012 model year base pricing is expected to start around $20,000 when the car goes on sale later this year, some $8,000 below the 2011 model it replaces. Both five- and six-cylinder gasoline engines will be available, as well as a 2.0-liter diesel inline-four (the same engine we enjoy in the Golf and Jetta currently). Interior quality is much better than the dumbed down cabin of the Jetta, though we’d still like slightly more refinement, especially considering how good the interiors of $20K competitors are these days.
We’ve just returned from checking out the 2012 Passat live at the Detroit Auto Show, so scroll through our high-res gallery of live shots below to see the new car for yourself.