By on January 25, 2022

The final Volkswagen Passat has rolled off the assembly line in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ending the model’s extended run on the North American market.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and introduced in 1973 using the VW/Audi B1 platform, the Passat arrived in the United States as the Dasher and was sold as a midsized luxury vehicle to people in the market for an imported economy car. The model carried different names in other parts of the world and even saw a few unique monikers used in the U.S. (e.g. Quantum) to help differentiate between the hatchback, sedan, and wagon variants sold throughout the 1980s. But it was officially known as the (B2) Passat by 1990, regardless of format. 

Base models came equipped with a transversely mounted 1.6-liter outputting a rather meager (albeit acceptable for the time) 71 horsepower. Customers could opt for the VR6’s narrow-angle 2.8-liter unit, offering 172 hp and a top speed of 139 mph. Though most purchased versions are equipped with 1.8 or 2.0-liter engines, with Europeans being partial to the diesel variants.

Sales pitched up after the facelifted B4 model hit the scene in 1993 and continued to rise once the B5 resumed platform sharing with Audi in 1997. The model became an upscale option once again, proved by Volkswagen’s decision to begin offering versions with a 4.0-liter W8 late in its lifecycle. However, the majority of fifth-gen models came equipped with four or six-cylinder motors and front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive remained available throughout most of the B5’s lifespan.

U.S. volume peaked in 2012 with 117,023 deliveries after the B6 had been retired. But it might not be a totally fair assessment because that was also the year holdover models were being sold alongside the larger Passat “New Midsize Sedan” designed specifically to cater to North American and Chinese customers. While the initial reception was positive, sales began to taper off and VW started offering fewer ways to configure the model. Thanks to the internet, Americans had also become aware that the smaller, European-market Passat came with glitzier options and a higher price.

By the end, the manufacturer was only offering the facelifted North American Passat with the default 2.0-liter TSI (174 hp) and six-speed automatic while China got an entirely new model. In 2021, Volkswagen reported it only managed to move 24,396 units inside the United States. China sold 124,402 examples  — making it easy to see the company opted to pull the Passat from one market and not the other.

VW mourned the loss of its midsized mainstay this week as executives publicly suggested it was for the best.

“Volkswagen is in the business of making memories, and for 50 years nearly two million Volkswagen owners made memories behind the wheel of a Passat,” stated Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “For the thousands of our workers in Chattanooga, that is what makes their job special. And as we look to the future, with the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in high demand, and the assembly launch of our all-electric ID.4 SUV coming later this year, they’re ready to help America make millions more of those memories.”

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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49 Comments on “Volkswagen Passat Passes Away...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…for 50 years nearly two million Volkswagen owners made memories behind the wheel of a Passat”

    My memories of my B5.5 02 Passat are mostly bad. We parted ways at the 3/36 mark, coincident with the expiration of the warranty, because I knew I couldn’t afford to start paying for further repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My ’00 B5 Passat made it to 100k but it was literally falling apart. And sure enough things starting breaking as soon as the warranty ended. My main memory: the day I traded it in the sunroof switch broke. I wanted to drive it into a lake and collect the insurance money. Thanks to our Passat experience the wife has declared no more VW products for us. Shame because for the first 3 years of ownership it was a really nice car since at the time the B5 Passat was basically an Audi A4 with a different logo.

      • 0 avatar
        Urlik

        Sold my ‘99 with 185,000 miles on it 8 years ago. The B5 was definable the high point for the model. First car I ever modded and I loved every mile. Wanted an A4 but needed a back seat for a teen. It’ all A4 underneath but stretched a couple inches. ClubB5 was an awesome community for owners at the time as well.

      • 0 avatar

        “B5 Passat was basically an Audi A4 with a different logo.”

        Are you sure? May be A4 was Passat with different logo? But I know that A80 felt anything like Passat.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “Thanks to our Passat experience the wife has declared no more VW products for us.”

        @JMII: Same here. I briefly expressed interest in an ID4, and that discussion ended very quickly.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A 2.5L NMS Passat would be welcome in my garage.

    • 0 avatar

      Passat’s got almost nothing to recommend it aside from interior space, and the offset steering wheel is unforgivable.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’ve been impressed by the longevity and simplicity of the 2.5L/6A combination. It is extremely off-brand for VW. I expect I could keep a Passat so equipped running fine until the sun explodes.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The powertrain may be durable, but so is the one in a K24 Accord, and the Accord is so much nicer to drive. I’ve been deeply unimpressed by the steering in NMS Passats.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Meh. Not a lot of curves where I live, I don’t trust Honda paint, and I’m not fond of Hondas in general. Passat me.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @Corey Lewis – I’ve had a 2021 and a 2022 Passat as loaners during the service visits. You are 100% spot on. The space inside is massive and the trunk has plenty of room to “take out the trash” Chicago-style…(it’s a joke…) The seats are formless slabs of foam covered in the cheapest, nastiest substance ever to be called “leatherette” or “V-TEX” or “substance from pool innertubes.” The stereo even in uplevel models is nothing to write home about. These didn’t even have the 8-speed automatic that almost all other non-DSG VWs get – they had a slow-shifting 6 speed automatic.

        Fuel mileage was decent on the highway – pushing high 30s, and it was pretty quiet and had a calm ride. But it was just so boring. There was nothing I could look at about that car and say this is why someone should buy it. It is the best definition of an automobile appliance. Generic styling, bland interior, numb driving dynamics…good bye Passat. That was one hard fall you had in the US. The days of the VR6 and other fun quirks are long gone.

        And pictures don’t do it justice – that steering wheel really is offset to the right. Something seems a little off when you sit and adjust the wheel. Who approved that?

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree

          The 3.6-liter VR6 actually did last through 2018. Initially, the only way to get one was the spendy SEL Premium V6 trim. Then, in 2018, VW added a GT trim, which came with some go-fast bits and red badging. The V(R)6 was dropped entirely for 2019.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d take an R-line with the V6.

      To echo the other comments here, the current model is pretty much awful.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @FreedMike – one VW dealer close to me, up until before Christmas, had an entire fleet of R-Line Premium Package Arteons as their loaners. Very, very nice cars – an Audi A5 Sport Back without the Audi badge. Just beautiful to look at and good to drive. So when I went back there for the most recent batch of issues, I was expecting another Arteon…nope. Passat. And then another Passat. And then a trip to Enterprise across the street for a Hyundai Kona. The Arteons ended up on their used car lot.

        The place I bought the GLI has a fleet of Tiguans for loaners. They also have some Atlases. I’ll bet now that the Passat is dead and buried that when you need service, you’re getting a Tiguan, or the last Passat on the lot.

        • 0 avatar
          redapple

          Fan that likes flying…
          Jeez brother, how many service trip did you make ( and ones that required a loaner car ) ?? !!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @redapple:

            He had a BUNCH of issues. I think his car’s electrical system suffered from demonic possession.

            I have the same car he did (Jetta GLI). Fingers crossed…so far, so good.

          • 0 avatar
            theflyersfan

            @redapple – in 13 months, 14 service visits. Most were multiple days, and one wiper repair was over a week while parts arrived. FreedMike is right – it was 100% electrical. I have a family member that knows his way under the hood and he took a look not long ago. He said mechanically, it’s fine. But something is causing the wipers to glitch out or fail all together. Around New Years Day, on 465 around Indy, the wipers started to pause on the windshield and then restart. There are times when they don’t resume moving after the engine stop/start restarts and the temp pause becomes permanent. I need to stop the car, kill the engine, open the door to cut all of the power, close the door, restart the engine and resume driving. Then there were the engine issues – eventually the recall on the engine computer fixed an idle problem that caused the car to vibrate like a honeymoon suite’s bed back in the 1970s. Then interior trim fell off, and other trim started to bubble. And then the overhead console failed twice and took the microphone with it.
            I apologize to those on the site who are tired of hearing about this. And I have family members with other VWs and Audis and they have been flawless (except for an older A3 that got lemon law-ed into a new engine and transmission.) It just boggles the imagination that in 2022, with a car built late in 2020, these issues exist. Compared to this, the RX-8 I had was a Lexus. (And I took care of that engine!!!)
            Corey Lewis on this site also had a hellish VW experience, and there are others who have added their 2 cents, but those VWs were from the really dark times of the late 1990s and early 2000s. I really hope that FreedMike has the best time with that GLI. It can be a LOT of fun. The DSG and engine combo were made for each other. When the boost kicks in and the mid-range torque takes over, you in a sedate looking VW sedan just blew by a dozen people on the highway and didn’t break a sweat.

            Lastly, redapple – I’m going from memory here:
            3 Tiguans
            4 Arteons
            2 Passats
            1 Atlas
            and from Enterprise: Kia Optima and Hyundai Kona
            The rest I was able to wait it out.

            Of them, I was left REALLY impressed with the Arteon. If they weren’t grossly overpriced and if VW didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, I’d look at them.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Those things were everywhere in Silicon Valley around the turn of the century. Good looking car. VW dealers were a total nightmare, though. Getting parts was hit or miss as well. Chintzy 2 year 24K warranty as well. Never got one. Just heard bad things from those who did.

    Kinda liked the CC later on — but the design just got worse and worse. The last one was fairly putrid looking with the corporate grill. Same with the Jetta. Seemed to have cheaper interiors as well.

    Happy trails.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I had a 2013 TDI and really liked it. It was conservatively styled, but looked good. I think that design aged well. It got excellent fuel economy for a car that size and the rear-seat leg room was limousine-like. VW bought it back for almost what I paid for it when Dieselgate hit.

    I gotta say that I really don’t understand the move to CUVs, SUVs and trucks. But that’s what people want and that meant we wouldn’t get a new Passat.

  • avatar
    Margarets Dad

    I was hoping the sight of all those masked assembly-line workers would give Matt a stroke.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Typical Path
    Try to compete with Camcord and die
    Galant
    Passat
    Mazda6
    Fusion

    All these cars grew in size to compete. But apparently, size wasn’t a feature buyers of these cars looked for.

    • 0 avatar

      Fusion was nothing like Camry. It was based on Euro Mondeo – the farthest thing from Camry. Taurus was designed to compete with Camry and it lost because was more expensive to make.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @slavuta: You make a good point there.

      Add in the GM and Mopar stuff.

      The H/K Sonata and K5/Optima have done all right, but the last gen was cursed with recalls and bad engines. And they don’t have the resale of a Camcord.

  • avatar
    jdiaz34

    Bought a lightly used 2007 B6 wagon in 2010 for $15k, and took it to 178k miles in 2020 before the cam chain between the intake and exhaust valves stretched and jumped time. Gave the car away for free locally, and that guy swapped in another engine and its still going.

    It was our family daily and road trip car. That plastic and vinyl interior (a huge step down from the beautiful B5) held up wonderfully thru time/kids/dogs, and even at the end the paint, seats, and carpets were still in great shape. It held a crazy amount of stuff with the seats down. AC was terrible. Had no problem knocking out 500 miles from a tank of gas.

    I don’t think I’ve ever checked oil so many times, nor added as much, to all the other cars and motorcycles we’ve owned. The 2.0T was easy to maintain at home and consumables are very cheap in the aftermarket.

    Replaced one window regulator, both rear wheel bearings, paid for one intake valve cleaning at 125k (didn’t need it), the electric motors for the rear parking brakes, and rear coil springs. The car never left us stranded….even when the cams jumped time, it just ran poorly under 2k rpm and got us home. It ate batteries like clockwork every 30 months, probably because it was so hot under hood, even as my digital voltmeter insisted that the alternator was charging correctly.

    I don’t know why the memories are so good, but if a new B6 wagon was available now with the drivetrain out of our current 2017 GTI, we’d buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My B5 had that “soft touch” interior which peeled like a sunburn and it went thru window regulators on a monthly basis. The fabric on the door panels sagged too. The little pixel display in the dash died. Honestly the interior was the low point as mechanically the 1.8T and 5 speed were fine. Car got 30 MPG and the turbo pulled strong. Drove like a solid German that felt more expensive then it was.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think the key thing that sold the 2012 model was the “clean” diesel. TONS of people bought them, and that made sense – it was a unique offering in the midsize space. When the TDI scandal hit, Passat sales went off a cliff. Same thing was true to a lesser extent of the Jetta.

  • avatar
    Kyree

    I remember being enamored with the clean styling of the 2012 NMS Passat’s styling. This is before I realized how cheap it felt inside, and that it was more or less a Teutonic-American styling imitation of a W-body Impala, which is not a compliment. I remember looking at a new 2014 Passat SE (by then they had switched from the 2.5 to the 1.8T) and ending up with a 2014 Jetta SportWagen TDI.

    I found the 2016 facelift extremely pleasant, but by then, the TDI engine was gone.

    The 2020 facelift was a step in the wrong direction.

  • avatar

    Matt, are you serious about Passat being considered in USA as a luxury car? Were Americans so desperate?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I purchased a new B.1 Dasher in ’78. Put about 100k miles on it until I traded it for a Dodge Colt Vista wagon in ’85. Good solid car, burned out its catalytic converter in ’82 – the thing would turn cherry red while driving and didn’t want it to burn the car down with the kids in it. I just rodded out the ceramic and continued for another 30k miles. The only other issue was a torn boot on a CV axle – the balls had turned blue from the heat and being a poor sailor I just repacked it and re-booted it and continued another 50k miles. Adequate power for a family car, returned reasonable fuel mileage – I don’t really remember anything truly bad about it. All things come to an end as has the Passat.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      I’m pretty sure the original Passat came with the 1471cc engine (@Matt Poskey, that is not the same as 1.6 liters…)

      I think the 1976 Passat got the 1588cc motor.

      Back in that era, these cars offered 30-mpg potential and room for four, and were not too slow (for the malaise era).

      I think the car was about a foot longer than a Rabbit, which was around 155 inches long. The Rabbit base MSRP was $3499 and these were $4799, which I thought was a huge mark-up for a “10% longer Rabbit”

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        My ’78 had the 1600cc engine. It was noticeably bigger than a Rabbit inside and definitely bigger than the ’75 Scirroco I traded for it. And the price for mine was $4950 – a huge amount for me at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      If your converter was red-hot, the real issue was a way too rich fuel mixture, not the converter itself.

      I had an 81 Reliant that one morning (started it and went inside) I found the interior loaded with smoke, all coming in through the HVAC vents. I lifted the hood and a ton of smoke poured out. I caught a glimpse of something bright behind the engine – looked under the car and the converter was bright red, just like an element on a stove. That heat was burning off all the oil and grime near the converter and the smoke was sucked into the HVAC intake. TBI couldn’t come fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        On my ’75 Scirroco, that was the issue – the carburetor. The service techs could never get it really correct and I’d always have that flashing CAT light and cherry-red cat when running up any sort of hill. The Dasher had Bosch fuel injection, the one with the plate in the airstream that moved the injector stems up and down with airflow. There were ways to tune it (I looked at a bunch of manuals at the time) but I didn’t have VW Special Tool Xr29-13 nor VW Special Tool Zb56-01 so it stayed as tuned from the factory as far as mixture control…

  • avatar
    Joseph Kissel

    I know they are in different price brackets, but I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the Arteon. Is this the beginning of de-contenting and trying to make that the new Passat? Obviously, it’s a slightly nicer looking vehicle with a better underlying architecture, but I’ve never quite understood why VW thought that was going to move any needle, especially at that price point. (Squint and it looks like a Chevy Malibu.)

    • 0 avatar
      The Comedian

      VW’s stated plan for the Arteon in North America for 2022 is to take it further upmarket, more power and a dual clutch instead of the current slush box.

      Whether any of them actually make it across the Atlantic is another question.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “with the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in high demand”

    The Volkswagen Atlas is a fine vehicle – because you can get one with a curb weight of 4,605 pounds. (That’s even more than a Mazda CX-9 weighs.)

    [The Passat at only 3,369 pounds was obviously no good and had to be sacrificed. Progress.]

  • avatar
    Skippity

    I drove a current gen rental for a week. Comfortable. Needs a Hyundai warranty.

  • avatar
    Skippity

    I drove a current gen rental for a week. Comfortable. VW needs a Hyundai warranty.

  • avatar
    chironrocket3

    I had a 2009 Passat wagon. Beautiful car. Bought it in 2013 and it was out of warranty. BIIIIIIG mistake. Owned it for 18 months, and in that time it cost me over $7000 in repairs. SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. The engine had to come out twice! Once to repair a seized balance shaft, and once to replace the rear main seal. Finally sold it after the throttle position sensor failed for the second time, which would kill the connection between the accelerator pedal and the engine unless you cycled the ignition on and off, which, if it occurred at 80 mph, was a sphincter-puckering experience involving sliding the trans into neutral, shutting the car off, restarting, back into D and keep driving, until it happened again which was usually a few minutes later. A horrendous POS and dangerous. Now whenever I see a VW product I have to fight the urge to piss on it. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    alexVA

    I’ll just note that my ’03 B5 GLS was maybe the best car I ever owned. Good power, I enjoyed the tiptronic transmission, I thought the balance of ride and handling was very good. Kept it for 8 or 9 years, traded it at about 105,000 miles, should’ve kept it.

    Oh, I test drove it’s successor, the “B6”; one drive around the block was enough to convince me to never look at a Passat again. Totally different car. Ugly, too.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I think you meant to say the dull, outdated North American Passat passes away. Europe still has their much better Passat available. VW in North America has become a purveyor of lumpen, cost-engineered SUVs. Sad that even Australia still gets almost full availability of the Euro-VW range from the Polo to the Touareg while we get the dull as ditchwater Taos and Atlas.

  • avatar
    Skippity

    Mustang II outsold S550. Double. In two less years.

  • avatar
    socalduck

    Aside from a head gasket failure that occurred under warranty, our ‘00 B5 was a solid performer for the 12 years we owned it. A teenager down the street drive it another two years before putting into a ditch, where it met it’s demise.

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