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.