The Volkswagen Passat may be one of the company’s most popular offerings in America, but, despite being slightly larger and cheaper than its rivals, the midsize sedan is far behind the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in terms of sales.
Aware that in order to become the world’s biggest automaker by 2018 they have to be more than just a niche player in the U.S., the Germans are struggling to up the ante with new or refreshed products such as the 2015 Jetta . Vehicles aside, they’ve also appointed Michael Horn as the new CEO for Volkswagen of America.
As it usually happens, a change in leadership is set to cause some strategy adjustments, but it’s a bit too early to draw any conclusions. However, when Mr. Horn sat down for a chat with the folks over at Motor Trend in New York last week, he revealed that the Volkswagen Passat is in for a major refresh for the 2016 model year.
The executive, who has already seen some of the facelift’s developments, claims the 2016 Passat will represent "a big step" in the sedan’s recent history. Specifically, while referring to the newly-unveiled Jetta, he stressed that VW’s design team is taking things up a notch for a "very strong" end result.
Well, I do hope Mr. Horn knows what he’s talking about, because the Passat has been America’s boring midsize sedan for quite some time now. Maybe not exactly as dull as the Toyota Camry, but the Japanese came up with a much more attractive design for 2015.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Volkswagen Passat.
Toyota’s midsize sedan may have lost its best-selling crown in the U.S. last year to the Honda Accord, but the Camry is expected to bounce back through the 2015 model year, when the refreshed version goes on sale.
The new Camry’s exterior has been redesigned almost entirely, with very few panels left untouched. The chassis, however, is largely the same and that’s not going to change until a next-generation model arrives. The sedan’s cabin is also new, now carrying more upscale materials, better fit and finish and styling cues borrowed from the 2015 Highlander.
Nothing has changed in the engine department, where the Camry gets the units we’ve seen in the past - the 2.5-liter inline-four for the base model, the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder and the range-topping 3.5-liter V-6.
Pricing for the 2015 Camry has yet to be announced, but the base model should start from around $23,000.
Introduced in 2013, the Honda Accord is still fresh as it passes into the 2015 model year, but it will probably receive a facelift by the time the next-gen Volkswagen Passat arrives. Until that happens, customers will have to settle for the sedan’s current athletic exterior design and simple, yet user-friendly cabin.
Accord customers get to choose between a pair of conventional, gasoline engines, but hybrid and plug-in version are also available. Offered on three out of six trim levels, the 2.4-liter inline-four generates 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Output goes up a bit into the Sport model, reaching 189 horsepower and 182 pound-feet. The range-topping EX-L V6 and Touring models are motivated by a 3.5-liter V-6 that’s rated at 278 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque.
Moving over to greener powertrains, both the Accord plug-in and the hybrid feature a 2.0-liter inline-four and electric motor combo that delivers a total output of 196 horsepower and a peak torque of 226 pound-feet.
Pricing for the 2014 model begins from $21,995, with no major changes in sight for 2015.
Initially penned by famed designed Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Volkswagen Passat was launched in 1973 with 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines under the the hood. The model quickly made it to North America, being introduced for the 1974 model year as the Volkswagen Dasher, with only a carbureted 1.5-liter unit up for grabs.
The Passat grew larger and gained more powerplants as the second-generation and third-generation models showed up in 1981 and 1988 respectively. A new, global vehicle was designed for 1996, with the B6 rolling off the assembly plant in 2005.
The most recent North-American iteration of the Passat, which is larger than its European brother, was introduced in 2011. No less than 13 trim levels and models are currently available, with engines ranging from the 170-horsepower 1.8-liter to the 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 with a 2.0-liter Clean Diesel unit rated at 140 horsepower in between.