By on December 13, 2018

Image: VW

Maybe the writing’s on the wall for the midsize car; many would agree it is. And, perhaps Volkswagen feels this will be the last Passat. Whatever the motivation, the German automaker isn’t putting maximum effort into the next-generation model, due out for the 2020 model year.

While the brand’s upcoming sedan will receive a much-needed styling revamp and new content, the bones beneath it won’t change, nor will the hood conceal the latest in electrified wizardry.

As you can see from these artist renderings released by Volkswagen, the 2020 Passat boasts tires a yard wide and 0.08 microns of suspension travel. Wait, we’re supposed to look beyond those exaggerated flourishes.

Yes, the Passat’s body does inspire thoughts of VW’s new-for-2018 Jetta and Arteon flagship; it falls in line with the brand’s styling direction for passenger cars. When viewed from the front quarter, the new Passat’s rear flanks bear a striking resemblance to the Audi A3. However, the new sheetmetal conceals an old platform.

Image: VW

In keeping the previous generation’s PQ46 platform, rather than replacing it with the brand’s versatile MQB architecture, VW is subtly claiming the midsize segment is not worthy of excessive development expenditure. Also carrying over for 2020 is the current model’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic, Automotive News reports, further bolstering this writer’s fairly obvious hypothesis.

“The only piece of sheet metal we didn’t change was the roof,” said Steven Warrick, manager of the Passat line for Volkswagen’s North American region, during a press preview.

When asked about the decision to keep the old architecture, Warrick replied, “There was nothing wrong with the platform.”

In addition to a mostly new body, the upcoming Passat gains additional driver assist and safety features, plus new LED headlamps. A good thing, too. If you recall yesterday’s post, the current Passat’s headlights failed to wow testers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As the company cuts costs in order to free up cash for its electric vehicle offensive, the Passat’s build configurations stand to shrink. Seventeen configurations will shrink to five for 2020. It’s VW’s aim, Warrick said, to keep the Passat affordable in the depopulating midsize segment.

In the Passat’s U.S. home base, sales fell 32.2 percent, year over year, in November, with year-to-date volume down 34.3 percent.

[Images: Volkswagen]

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18 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Not Wasting Many Resources on the Next Passat...”

  • avatar

    Not surprising. Mid size car sales are crashing. The Camry, Accord and maybe Altima or one Korean will survive. If you don’t sell a few hundred thousand a year, there is no money to be made and no money for serious changes.

  • avatar

    “Volkswagen’s Not Wasting Many Resources on the Next Passat”

    That’s OK, Americans aren’t going to either.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’m still considering getting a Passat when my current lease is up. The rental 1.8 R-Line I had in the summer of ’17 was what convinced me to look at new cars in the first place. It was almost without fault and the only complaint I could muster was that the front seat felt like it was made for someone about 100lbs bigger than me. My arm could barely reach the armrest on the driver’s door and I’m average height for a man.
    It really made me think they truly built the Passat for fat Americans.

    But it really left a positive impression on me, me a guy who has vowed never to possess a German car again after my foray into used Audi ownership.
    I’m eager to see this one in the flesh. Hopefully it doesn’t look as bloated and awkward as the new Jetta since it has a bigger overall footprint.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh, I had the same reaction when I went to drive the last gen Touareg – MY 12-15. The seats were wiiiiiiiide. Not uncomfortably, just too much movement around in them.

    • 0 avatar

      Haha. I think maybe I rented the same car this fall. :) I was very impressed with the Passat as a highway cruiser. The only things that stood out to me as things I wanted to change were the suspension for handling (I know, that’s a big one, but this company has resources!), and the leatherette seats, which would be so much nicer in cloth.

  • avatar

    Honestly thought GM and Ford would donsomething similarl with their midsize cars. Just re-skin the thing and go for the easy money. Don’t understand why that still would t have been profitable for them while the market makes up its mind.

    • 0 avatar

      The discounts they have to put on their sedans were so high that even keeping them the same would be unprofitable. There are brand new 2-3 year old Ford/GM/FCA mainstreamers sitting on dealers lots around the country.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      To be fair, the last domestic mid-size sedans to really get “re-skinned” were the Fusion and MKZ, in their 2010 changeovers (and you could more consider those heavy facelifts). The Fusion and MKZ were redesigned in 2013, which wasn’t that long ago, and have been facelifted, but not seriously revamped in that time. The most recent versions of the Malibu (2008-2012, 2013-2015, 2016-present) were significant redesigns. And the failed 200 was all-new from the ground up.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think GM and Ford got out of sedans because they were all losing money. I think they, particularly Ford, did it in a fit of panic to appear “forward-thinking” as a sacrificial lamb burned in homage to Wall Street to prop up the stock price. Which is doubly stupid since Wall Street just tanks your stock price a quarter later in a fit of amnesia anyway.

  • avatar

    Joke is on you if you sign up for this de-contented fraud of a VW. Zee Germans think Americans want big, plasticky, empty, drink holder filled, soulless A to B appliances. This American begs to differ..

    How in the hell can VW not upgrade the VR6 in their vehicles for almost 20 years!!?? Seriously, the 3.6L makes about 280HP, has since Santa was just an elf in training…

  • avatar

    Works for me. Passat was peak VW US market hate… “you want big cheap bland cars… HERE”

    You know it’s bad when GM’s mainstream sedans have more character.

  • avatar

    Well, the current model has been in production since 2012 with tiny changes. The first 5-6 years reliability wasn’t very good. They are average now. So I guess, by 2027 the new model should be average as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I would say the changes were moderate. The 2012-2015 models didn’t have much change, but the 2016 facelift was extensive. At some point—it might have been 2014—the old 2.5-liter N/A I5 was swapped for a 1.8-liter turbo I4. The turbodiesel disappeared after 2015. The 2016 facelift was substantial, coinciding with a complete infotainment overhaul for the entire VW brand, and generally made the car feel far more upscale. In 2018, the 1.8-liter was replaced with a 2.0-liter turbo I4, and this year (2019), the 3.6-liter V6 was dropped.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup, the new 2.0t is the Brudack-cycle weakling that manages to get the new Tiguan into only a barely noticeable canter. 4500 rpm and it’s out of breath while issuing coarse moaning sounds of the torture you’re putting it through. Have you tried one of these delights yourself? I’ve tried two. Less horsepower (174) in the Passat than an atmo Subie and a rev band like a diesel. At least they manage to wring its neck for 184hp in the Tiguan and Audi A3.

        Considering that the EA888 engine block is the same as the GTI, it’s the “economy” cylinder head with its variable this and that which is to blame for this seriously awful engine. Probably costs more to make, just to compound the error. VW even sells it in Germany, where buyers wonder why it cannot accelerate properly at higher autobahn speeds while making nasty sounds.

        This updated Passat looks to be seriously useless if it doesn’t even come with a real engine. Except for the oil-dilution issue, Honda’s 1.5t slays this 2.0t Brudack VW engine. It accelerates a CR-V to 60 a second quicker and gets 4 mpg more than the new Tiguan according to C/D test results. VW has lost the plot completely in my view. Audi even stuffs this underachiever in the base A4 to capture the unwary.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I agree. The Tiguan’s subpar fuel economy, combined with dull driving dynamics, kept me from getting one. 27 highway MPG is one more than my significantly-larger Grand Cherokee manages. Yet the CR-V manages 34 and drives better than the Tiguan? What gives?

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    “vowed never to possess a German car again after my foray into used Audi ownership”
    I would bet that many people have stories about their “forays into used Audi ownership”. You could probably stock an entire website with that content.
    My wife basically forbade me from purchasing another used European car after my “foray” into a 1987 Audi 5000.

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