The Volkswagen automobile manufacturing company, founded in 1937 by the German Labor Front, involved production of an inexpensive car for the German common man, and included state-sponsored financing (“five marks a week you must put aside, if in your own car you want to ride”). Until then Germans could typically only afford motorcycles, but with the advent of this new Volkswagen factory, hundreds of thousands could afford this new “Beetle”, designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Volkswagen automobiles started crossing the Atlantic after World War II, and sales in the United States peaked in 1970, when the company enjoyed 7% market share.
The 2013 Volkswagen Passat, built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a mid-size family sedan that has been produced since 1973. It’s Volkswagen’s biggest sedan, and comes with a choice of 4 and 6 cylinder gas engines and a diesel 2 liter offering. The V-6 is a 3.6 liter (280 hp/265 lb. ft.) with EPA mileage ratings of 20 city, 28 highway, and 23 mpg overall. The Passat gas tank holds 18.5 gallons, and zero to 60 acceleration of the 3.6 is reportedly 6.4 seconds. That’s seems pretty fast for such an entry, but my recent test of the Passat in Phoenix made a believer out of me.
While in Arizona I drove the V-6 SE Passat, which featured V-Tex leatherette seating for five including supportive heated front buckets, 60/40 fold-down rear seat, power driver seat/mirrors/locks/windows (with pinch protection), cruise control, tilt/telescope leather steering wheel, satellite touchscreen radio, power tilt/slide sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity, console-mounted emergency brake, and Fender brand premium stereo. While putting 400 miles on the Volkswagen, I stayed comfortable and cool in the SE, and as mentioned, passing and getting away from stoplights was a snap.
Ride of the SE was particularly satisfying, with guidance and wind noise acceptable, as well. The car was painted Candy white, and had ten spoke alloy “Bristol” 18” wheels fitted with Hankook Optimo H426, 235/45R18 all season radials. The windows didn’t roll down entirely out of sight, but I still was successful in getting a nice photograph of the Volkswagen. The trunk lid was light and easy to handle, with 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space under it. Halogen fog lights were up front, as were daytime running lights and a bold three-bar chrome grill and iconic “VW” round emblem. The SE look was pretty much all-American, even though it was styled in Germany.
M.S.R.P. of the press car was $30,030, including freight. The Passat was named 2012 Motor Trend car of the year, and my experience with it confirmed what the magazine editors discovered during their test.