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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2012 Volkswagen Passat Priced from $20,765; TDI Diesel Starts at $26,765

Volkswagen has released pricing for its all-new 2012 Passat, and the new mid-sizer will start at $20,765—or, as the ads will say over and over again, $19,995 before destination.

For their 20-ish grand, shoppers will get the base Passat S, powered by the familiar 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Oh, and 16-inch steel wheels. Beyond ye-olde inline-five, the Passat S is surprisingly well-equipped. It comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, Bluetooth connectivity, and steering-wheel audio controls.

Of course, this Passat was designed specifically for the U.S. market, and most shoppers here in the land of the free will opt to liberate their left feet. The cheapest Passat with an automatic transmission is $23,460—yeah, that’s an increase of about $2700—although in addition to the six-speed slushbox, it does add a set of 16-inch aluminum rims and a rear-seat armrest. Scintillating.

From there, Passat shoppers can spend increasing sums of money for Passats powered by the same 2.5-liter engine, but packing more toys like a sunroof, navigation system, heated leatherette or leather seats, an upscale Fender-branded stereo (made by Panasonic), wood-like interior trim, keyless go, and Darth Vader’s remote start. A fully loaded Passat SEL 2.5 with all the kit is listed at $30,665.

The Passat TDI, which has VW’s outstanding 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel, making 140 hp and 236 lb-ft, starts at $26,765. At that price, buyers get a six-speed manual, 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, some nicer-looking interior trim, and leatherette seats (one of which, if your name is “the driver,” is heated and power-adjustable). Want an auto with your diesel? The six-speed dual-clutch automatic comes with a mandatory sunroof; the bill will be $28,665, please. More options are available for, you guessed it, even more money.

High rollers and front-tire shredders take note: The top-of-the-line Passat features the company’s 3.6-liter V-6, making 280 hp in this installation. When many automakers are eschewing six-cylinder engines in this segment—Chevy’s new Malibu, and Hyundai’s Sonata both offer turbocharged fours instead—it strikes us as odd that VW would bring back the V-6 option for its Passat. (The last-gen Passat, which was considerably more expensive than this 2012 model, offered the 3.6, but slow sales led the company to drop it a few years ago.) Entry to the V-6 Passat starts at $29,765, and includes a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, leatherette seating that’s heated up front, a sunroof, the Fender stereo, and some nicer interior trim bits. Ordering navigation tacks on $1600. A full-fat Passat 3.6 demands $33,720, and includes every option you’ve seen listed above.

All Passats also include three years/36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance. The 2012 Passat should arrive in dealers this fall. To pass the time, check out our first-drive review of VW’s new suburban cruiser.

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