Volkswagen Passat Reaches the End of the Line

·3 min read
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America
  • After nearly 50 years, Volkswagen has killed off the Passat sedan in the U.S.

  • The last of 800,000 Passat sedans to come off the Chattanooga, Tennessee, production line was a Limited Edition 2022 Passat in Platinum Gray.

  • The plant will now turn to the ID.4 EV, with production to start later in 2022.

The Volkswagen Passat officially takes its leave of our market, as the last U.S. Passat has rolled off VWoA's Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly line. The Passat enjoyed a long run in the States, one that dates back to 1974, when the model was known as the Dasher.

Photo credit: Volkswagen of America
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America

The first Passat shared its Giugiaro-penned "folded paper" styling with the Golf and the Scirocco. With Volkswagen preparing to leave the Beetle behind, the brand used the Passat/Dasher to push its way upmarket. By the late 1970s, VW was (rather optimistically) hawking the Dasher as a luxury model. In this Passat commercial from 1979, a Malibu, California–dwelling proto-yuppie mocks the notion that he'd drive a Buick:

The Dasher was offered in coupe and sedan (both hatchbacks) as well as wagon body styles. That three-model lineup would continue into the second generation in 1982, when the Dasher nameplate gave way to Quantum. Four- and five-cylinder engines were offered and again were longitudinally mounted, as the platform was shared with Audi. All-wheel drive (Syncro) was also available.

The Passat name finally appeared on the third-generation car, which arrived for 1990. Sold as a sedan (with a trunk) and a wagon, this Passat rode on a transverse-engine VW-based architecture. For 1992, a 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6 joined the base 2.0-liter four as the higher-output engine offering. A facelift bringing additional equipment marked the fourth generation, which carried the Passat through 1997.

Photo credit: Volkswagen of America
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America

The Passat moved out of the shadows with the fifth-generation model that debuted for 1998. Reverting to an Audi platform (shared with the A4), this Passat delivered impressive quality for a mainstream mid-size sedan and wagon. Four-cylinder and V-6 engines and front- or all-wheel drive were available. A technically complex W-8 engine arrived later in the life cycle, as did a turbo-diesel.

Photo credit: Volkswagen of America
Photo credit: Volkswagen of America

Worries that the Passat had grown too expensive led VW to divorce the U.S. version from the European model, starting with the B7 Passat that debuted in 2006 as a sedan and 2007 as a wagon. Four-cylinder and V-6 engines were again offered, along with front- or all-wheel drive.

Yet another attempt to better align the Passat with American tastes and pricing brought a new, larger Passat for 2012. To keep costs under control, the model was assembled at a brand-new U.S. factory in Chattanooga. The Passat grew larger still and much more spacious than before. This is the model, with updates, that VW has sold right up to the present day.

Although the Passat is ending production, the Chattanooga factory will continue to build the Atlas three-row SUV and the (slightly) smaller Atlas Cross Sport two-row SUV. It will also start building the ID.4 EV later in 2022, VW said.

With the Passat's departure, buyers seeking a mid-size four-door could check out the sleek VW Arteon. But most probably won't. Instead, they'll gravitate to one of the other remaining mainstream mid-size sedans. Of them, our top choice would be the Honda Accord, a multiple 10Best winner. But shoppers can check out all the mid-size offerings here.

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