By on July 20, 2021

Passat. VW

The Volkswagen Passat is dead. At least in America.

2022 will be the last model year for VW’s mid-size sedan.

The cause of death is complicated. While the market shift towards crossovers certainly plays a role, the car was also simply overlooked by VW in recent years. We called the last one we drove boring. Europeans got a different version that seemed, on paper, to be more competitive, while we got a bland sedan that offered nothing in terms of sport, luxury, or comfort to sway buyers away from competitors like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Or to give them a reason to not buy a crossover.

Indeed, Passat sales have fallen off the proverbial cliff since 2012.

If you’re wondering what will become of the plant in Chattanooga, Tennesse, where the car is built, VW will continue building the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport crossovers there, and production of the ID.4 EV crossover will begin there in 2022.

Passat will bow out with a Limited Editon model that has “Chattanooga-inspired” details. Other details, such as the number of cars planned to be built, will honor other aspects of Passat’s past. Limited Edition models will start at $30,295, plus $995 for destination.

The Passat has been sold in America since 1974 — though first under the Dasher name, and later as the Quantum. The Passat name came about in 1990. The first six generations were imported from Europe before the company split the versions by market for the 2012 model year, building the American Passat in Chattanooga.

It’s your humble author’s opinion that this decision is partially responsible for the Passat’s fate. Making the car larger for American customers seemed a good decision on its face, but the car lost some performance verve in the process, and the interior and exterior styling became rather anonymous. Add in the crossover craze and it’s easy to see why the Passat’s goose is now cooked.

VW probably could’ve come up with a replacement model that balanced size and fun and managed to keep the sedan flame burning, but in addition to building crossovers, the focus is also shifting to EVs. So the Passat will say goodbye.

We suspect it won’t be missed.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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34 Comments on “Pour One Out for the Volkswagen Passat...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    VW certainly could have just built the Euro version here – it’s on the MQB platform, just as the Atlas is – but what’s the point? The midsize sedan wars are over. Besides, the Jetta has basically become a midsize car.

    This Passat won’t be missed.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      When I parted ways with my 02 Passat, I certainly didn’t miss it. The last straw was when it burned 3 quarts of oil in 3000 miles, at the young age of 3 years and 30k miles. The 5-valve V6 had many opportunities for oil to make an exit.

      Before that, it was the endless electrical issues, A/C, throttle mapping, and brakes.

      This one-time experience formed my understanding of “German Engineering”, a term even more detestable in our woke era.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        Everyone has those VW stories, and it never seemed to me that VW cared to improve it. Just decided to push leases instead.

        It’s a shame, I would have bought several cars from VW if it was halfway decent on quality. I had too many friends and family members swear off the brand with horror stories.

        • 0 avatar
          Urlik

          ..and my B5 Passat went 185,000 miles before I sold it. Probably spent $1K on repairs over the 14 years I owned. I’d buy a new B5 today if I could.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Understood, and that’s what is so maddening.

            I had a similar brand problem with Honda – go figure – but their service department was incompetent and arrogant. At least the VW folks were nice about everything.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            My B5 Passat made it 100K but it was literally falling apart. The glove box door handle broke off. This is a part you touch about once a year to replace the registration paper work. Mechanically the 1.8T was fine and sludge free, but the interior was total junk, it was a victim of VeeDubs “soft-touch” plastics which peeled like a bad sunburn. Every window regulator broke, some of them twice. The day I traded it the sunroof switch fell off in my hands. The antenna base broke, a headlight fell out (twice), some spring came out from under the drivers seat. The little pixel display in the gauge cluster died. It seemed to be perfectly engineered to fail after the warranty expired. Thus VW along with Volvo are on my banned for life list.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        sounds like a typical first time VW ownership experience

        except that I hope you leased

        VW’s aren’t worth owning

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    For every 35 or so Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport plus Tiguan crossovers I see on the roads there are a handful of newer Passats.

  • avatar
    NetGuy411

    I had a couple of Passat wagons. They were nice cars. I lost interest in the Passat after VW decided to sell the decontented version here. I switched to Audi. Now I’m driving an ID.4.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Gotta say I really like that color and miss it still especially given that it was the go-to color for a lot of cars and trucks in the 1990s. We need more variety of colors again.

    When I got my VW, pre-chip shortage and the lots were still overflowing, there were almost no Passats on the lot. Every other model in every trim level was present, but the Passat just seemed kind of left out. And I think making it a “cheapened” American only model did it in. It was VW basically giving us the finger saying “Fine, you like soft, cushy cars…well, here you go.” But that isn’t the normal VW buyer. So it’s been a long, steady decline.

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      Agreed on missing the forest green colors of the 90’s. Lots of cars look really good in that color.

      I remember it being such a hot color in that decade, it seemed 1 out of every 4 cars on the road was green.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Agreed. I also think a dark metallic red looks good on most cars.

        Part of the problem is so many trucks and crossovers are so large that they don’t look good in an actual color.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    People just don’t want sedans anymore, I doubt it had much to do with the actual design of the car for getting canned.

    I’m a sedan lover, but I feel like an anachronism. I just know so many people that basically have written off sedans almost like 2 doors were written off once you had kids.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I didn’t really mind the “American” Passat until the Budack cycle was put in it. I feel like the 2.5L Passat could be something of a runner, which is very rare for a vehicle wearing a VW badge.

    VW has been selling “fancy” cars like the CC and Arteon during this time and they aren’t exactly selling well either.

    Nonpremium sedans are just contracting like the minivan market did years ago. Honda, Toyota, and one of the Korean makes are likely the only ones committed to compact and midsize offerings while the Avalon is probably going to be the only large nonpremium sedan left by 2025.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      id consider the avalon “premium” for a toyota. next step up is lexusland. i dont know why anyone shopping a passat WOULDNT look at a similar spec audi

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        A “similar spec Audi” to the Passat in terms of size would be an A4 at minimum, and that’s a $40-50,000 car, depending on how it’s optioned out.

        I think this does explain VW’s utter failure at selling any sedan more expensive than a Passat, though – they don’t want to steal Audi sales. If the Arteon had a better engine for the same money, there would be little reason to buy an A5 Sportback.

  • avatar

    It’s dated and uninspired, doesn’t offer any power plant options, isn’t made well, and the steering wheel is off-center.

    Good riddance.

    • 0 avatar
      TrstnBrtt89

      I drove one a few weeks ago as a rental.. I can’t remember if I was more surprised that they still made the Passat or the Mazda6. Speaking about the Passat though it’s horribly dated.. I couldn’t believe that it was a car from this decade, the inside looks the same as Volkswagens that were being sold 10 years ago. Same instrument cluster, door trim panels and seats. It wasn’t anything special to drive and certainly isn’t anything special to look at. The European model looks fantastic but I’m not surprised that the American one is getting canned. At least the Mazda6 looked and drove nice(ly).

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Corey, I agree with both you and Tim. This simply hasn’t been a good-faith effort by Volkswagen. I AM a shopper in this class, and I’d never buy a car with this lack of dressiness (especially the taxicab dash and seats) and poor durability record.

      I also agree with FreedMike that they could have offered the European Passat here (Tim, those who’ve driven that car say is really is vastly superior in every way, save for rear legroom).

      I don’t agree with whoever here said, “What reason is there to buy this instead of an Audi”? Two words: “Not $50,000.” Which explains why this car was decontented from a car Jack Baruth called the GOAT to… this. I suspect they didn’t want to step on the toes of the more profitable A4 and A6.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    And then they came for the Passat and I said nothing because, meh, it’s outdated and I am not looking for a full size sedan. And if I was, I’d get a Charger. Those aren’t going anywhere… right?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m all for offering full-size sedans, and almost everyone else who sells one presently is doing a better job than VW. Even the Maxima is preferable to it.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I believe the Charger will be made, using the current platform, until the sun goes nova and swallows up the Earth and everything in between. So I think you have some time to make your best deal on one.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Funnily enough that version in green with the wheels is the only example of the current North American Passat I’ve seen that I actually like.

    To those mourning the loss of the Euro-Passat you can still buy one in the form of the Arteon. Like most other manufacturers VW seems to have decided that all sedan buyers want swoopy rooflines.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    In the good news section, I saw one Arteon.

  • avatar

    VW in the US has always had a problem, in that any car that is more expensive is an Audi. This is sorta the same problem as Phaeton…the car isn’t VW as VWUSA defines it. VW is not a cheap car in Europe, but here that is the niche. I just did a headlight swap in my Jetta and was amazed at the design and cheapness of the build when I had remove the front of the car to do a headlight swap (the infamous Service Position)…we drive at night sometimes, the H7 is clearly son of the 9004 bulb for uselessness. How anyone still sells garbage lights is beyond me…my other cars are HID and one has full active high beams due to some re programming….but no one liked the Jetta at night. Phillips Ultinon 9000 fixed that, albeit not cheaply.

    Any VW which gets too expensive is priced out, period. This is the problem with the Passat….and VW US won’t equip a VW because expensive VW products in the US are called Audi, or sometimes, Porsche. The Golf R, or the Eos, showed what the high end interior looked like….

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, VW has always had problems selling “luxury” vehicles, but the Passat was a mid-market, $25,000-35,000 car and VW never pretended it was anything else. And seven or eight years ago, they were selling TONS of these.

      I think what killed Passat sales was the whole TDI fiasco. Before that hit, this was never really as good as an Accord or Camry, but the TDI was the killer app. After Dieselgate, Passat sales fell off a cliff.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Yeah but given the size of VW Group there is absolutely no reason that Volkswagen can’t be to Audi as Toyota is to Lexus. There’s no reason for them not to be offering quality cars at a lower price point than their luxury sibling.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, yeah, VW IS basically VWAG’s Toyota – the mass market brand. It just doesn’t have Toyota’s quality rep (which, if you ask me, is more than a bit overstated). Then again, Toyota doesn’t have VW’s styling or fun-to-drive rep. YMMV.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Depends on what you mean by “quality.”

          If you mean durability and trouble-free operation, they completely live up to the hype—one scan of the Consumer Reports survey data confirms a 10-year-old Prius is less trouble than most cars are new.

          If, however, you mean “look and feel of excellence and expense in use,” I agree—a whole lot of Toyota products and even some recent Lexi look like they were crafted by Rubbermaid, and the discount-store line of it at that.

  • avatar
    EAM3

    There’s a flip side to all the “No performance/dated/not the European model” remarks. My dad leased a 2016 Passat SEL (after decades of Mercedes, BMW and lastly a Lexus GS350). He absolutely loved that car and my sister assumed the lease from him shortly before he passed away. She has been a hardcore SUV driver for over a decade and never showed any interest in anything other than an SUV.

    Since getting the Passat, her whole outlook has changed. She loves the cavernous interior, huge trunk, comfortable seats plus a combined gas mileage around 30mpg. The car has been bulletproof reliable. She could not care less about performance, the latest gadgets and where the car is made. She is smitten with it and could not be happier with her decision.

  • avatar
    NJRide

    This Passat seems like a latter day German-brand Cutlass Ciera but without GM’s distribution market and a market more hostile to sedans. The green looks nice but too little too late. Better off switching capacity to ID4. Jetta is large and modern enough to satisfy most VW sedan loyalists.

  • avatar

    Please tell me that one of the “Chattanooga-inspired details” will be hiding a Moon Pie in the glove box.

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