VW Passat goes wagon-only, upscale — and away from USA

Don’t look for the new Volkswagen Passat “estate” wagon at the local Wegmans parking lot, but they’re sure to find homes on the motorways of Europe.

Wagons are generally autos non grata on American highways, where they’ve been superseded by SUVs. More’s the pity, because the ninth generation of VW

’s bread-and-butter model is to be sold exclusively in estate form—British for wagon—when it’s released early next year.

Since its introduction in 1973, the Passat has been delivered to more that 30 million customers; the sedan, which at one point was built in Chattanooga, was severed from US market in 2022.

Most notable about the new Passat “Variant” is the variety of power options it offers: two mild hybrid powertrains, two plug-in hybrid setups, three turbo diesels, and a pair of turbocharged gas engines. A dual-clutch transmission is standard across the range, and the most powerful gas and TDI motors get “4-Motion” permanent all-wheel drive.

The plug-in model, featuring a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in combination with an electric motor, provides up to 268 horsepower. Thanks to a 19.7 kWh pack, the wagon should be able to do 60 miles on full electric mode on the WLTP cycle. Another motor choice is in the offing, VW says: a 300-horsepower turbo in a four-wheel-drive “Passat R” estate.

Reacting to some criticisms about its recent infotainment systems and displays, VW has paid particular attention to the Passat’s interior. Included as standard are new 10.3-inch instrument and 12.9-inch infotainment displays. They’re tied to the fourth-generation of Volkswagen’s MIB operating system, with revised menu structures, higher-resolution graphics and conversational voice control for the first time. The shift lever has been moved to the steering column.

The new Passat is supposedly the first in a series of new Volkswagen models to be based on an updated version of the MQB Evo architecture

, which means it should be able to accommodate an electric drive train in the future. As far as exterior dimensions, the wagon has grown longer and wider, and the wheelbase is almost two inches longer, at nearly 112 inches.

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