Today, more and more manufacturers are discontinuing their sedans in favor of SUVs and EVs. The domestic brands have been the most aggressive, with Ford leading the way and eliminating every car from its lineup other than the iconic Mustang (and even that name has now been applied to an electric SUV, much to the horror of enthusiasts everywhere). The imports have been slower to shed their sedans, partially because they tend to make better sedans that people actually want to buy, but even brands like Volkswagen are slowly being forced to bow to market trends. The latest victim of this trend is VW’s sophisticated midsize model, and the 2022 Volkswagen Passat marks the end of the line for this long-running car.
At AutoInfluence, we are always sad to see a car retired, particularly one that is both enjoyable to drive and a storied part of a brand, but VW is giving the Passat a rousing send-off with a special Limited Edition model. If you have had your eye on this practical car, now is the time to head to your Volkswagen dealer and pick one up before it is too late. While we expect that VW will soon be replacing the Passat with the intriguing Aero B electric sedan, for now, let us take a moment to remember the outgoing model and explore everything the 2022 Passat has to offer the more discerning driver.
A New Age for Volkswagen
The VW Passat first hit the scene in 1973 and was a revolutionary step forward for the brand. While the brand is now known for its sophisticated and stylish designs, Volkswagen came from humble beginnings. As iconic as the original VW Beetle is now, its main claim to fame was that it was cheap. Volkswagen experimented with moving upmarket with the Type 3 and Type 4 sedans in the 1960s and introduced the classy Karmann Ghia sports car (which was loosely based on the Beetle but was not designed by VW) before that. However, the first real step towards becoming the brand that we know today was the Passat.
Volkswagen already knew how to build a reliable car, but to elevate the 1973 Passat above its existing lineup, the company worked with Audi and even hired Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to handle the exterior design. The result was a timeless classic that eventually made its way to the American market in 1974. Over the years, the Passat has targeted different market segments and been sold at different price points, but we’d say the 2022 Passat is a worthy successor to the original when it comes to style and performance.
Over the past half-century, the Passat has evolved through eight different generations, becoming larger, more powerful, and more luxurious as the years went on. The Passat actually became two different cars in 2011, when Volkswagen spun off a separate version of the car specifically designed for the American market. While enthusiasts may mourn the loss of the wagon version of the Passat (which is still sold in Europe), the American version of the car comes with a much more powerful base engine better suited for our driving conditions. The European car is available with the same 2.0L turbocharged engine, but in typical continental fashion, it is also offered with engines as small as 1.4L and generating as little as 118 hp.
The Modern Passat
Although it is being discontinued after this year, the current model of the Passat is actually an extremely new car and only just hit the market for the 2020 model year. This is the second generation of the American-specific Passat, and while it does share a platform with the first-generation American model (which was introduced for the 2012 model year), it is filled with modern features. While we can understand why VW would choose to discontinue the model given the market trend towards SUVs and the cost of producing a vehicle that is only sold in America, we can’t help but feel that the Passat deserved to enjoy a longer life on the market.
A look at the 2022 Passat reveals a car with the typical sharp but slightly understated styling of modern Volkswagens. Too many modern manufacturers have resorted to over-exaggerated grilles and excessive bodylines, but VW keeps things simple and sophisticated. Like most of its lineup, the Passat is a car that stands out by not standing out. Of course, if you opt for the 2022 Limited Edition, you may be able to snag one in VW’s gorgeous Racing Green Metallic paint, a hue that is sure to catch eyes no matter where you go. Only 423 cars are going to be sold in that color, so keep your eyes peeled, and if you see one for sale, don’t hesitate.
The inside of the 2022 Passat maintains the same ambiance, with a clean cabin in the European style. The roomy design feels more like a full-size sedan than a midsize model, and everything is laid out in an ergonomic and elegant manner that will never leave you wondering where the control you want is located. Traditionalists may be particularly happy to note that the Passat still comes with a traditional gear shifter, manual parking brake, and hard button controls for the air conditioning and infotainment–all rare features in this touchscreen crazed world.
Of course, VW wouldn’t ship a modern car without a capable infotainment system, and the Passat offers a central 8-inch touchscreen equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the touchscreen is mounted low on the dash below the climate control vents where it is out of the way–a welcome change from the trend towards overly large screens placed on top of the dash where they catch your eye even when you are trying to focus on the road ahead. All in all, the cabin of the 2022 Passat is far from groundbreaking, but it provides drivers with comfort and familiarity.
Celebrating (Almost) Fifty Years
In order to celebrate the Passat’s important place in the history of Volkswagen, the 2022 model is being offered as a Limited Edition on top of the more common SE and R-Line trims. As a nod to the very first Passat, only 1973 units of the Limited Edition will be built. Those 1973 cars will be available in four colors, each produced in a number that has its own special meaning. The 615 cars in Platinum Gray metallic stand for six generations sold in the US, one generation built in Chattanooga, and five decades in the American market. The 524 cars in Pure White signify the 5/24/2011 date the VW Chattanooga plant opened. The 423 cars in Racing Green Metallic represent the Chattanooga area code. Finally, the 411 cars in Aurora Red Metallic represent the Volkswagen 411, the car the Passat replaced in 1973.
Whether you choose to hunt down one of the rare Limited Edition models to celebrate the Passat’s history, or you simply opt for a standard SE or R-Line model to enjoy this practical and stylish sedan before it leaves the market, we suspect that you will discover what countless other Passat owners have before–that VW knows how to build a good car. While you may no longer be able to find a new Passat at your local VW dealership after 2022, we know that these cars are going to continue putting in loyal service for years to come across the roads of America.