Motor Trend has named the 2012 Volkswagen Passat its 2012 Car of the Year at the 2011 LA Auto Show today. The publication has been handing out the honor for 62 years now, and says that all of the eligible vehicles were submitted to a battery of tests that include on-track and real-world driving evaluations. In the end, the 2012 Passat came out on top because it fulfills six specific criteria: advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value and performance of intended function. Motor Trend specifically cited the vehicle's roomy interior and wide range of powertrain options as reasons that it won the top nod.

Amazingly enough, this is only the second time in the history of the award that Volkswagen has taken home the Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy. The last time was in 1985 for the GTI.

This is a big nod for a vehicle that many feared would lose its German quality in its Americanization. Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 2012 Passat is a suitable rival for long-reigning models like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Follow the jump for the full press release.
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MOTOR TREND NAMES VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 2012 CAR OF THE YEAR

El Segundo, Calif. (November 16, 2011) – Motor Trend, the world's authority on cars, trucks and SUVs announced today the Volkswagen Passat as its 2012 Car of the Year. Now in its 62nd year, the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award®, announced live at the Volkswagen press conference from the Los Angeles International Auto Show, is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an automotive manufacturer by Motor Trend.

The American-made, new-for-2012, Volkswagen Passat edged out contenders from Europe, Japan and America to take this year's award from a record field of 35 all-new, or thoroughly redesigned, 2012 model year vehicles. Car of the Year candidates were subjected to an exhaustive evaluation process that included the full complement ofMotor Trend performance tests, track-based ride and handling evaluations, and real-world driving on city streets, freeways and two-lane roads.

"The well-equipped Passat is a breakthrough car for Volkswagen, as it has been designed to suit the North American market and is being built in a brand-new, state-of-the-art assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.," said Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief, Angus MacKenzie. "It has one of the roomiest interiors in its class, a wide choice of powertrains and a well-tuned chassis. A compelling new entry in the toughest, most competitive vehicle segment in the U.S. today, it's a terrific all-around family sedan."

For more than six decades, the editorial staff of Motor Trend has met to determine the best new car for the following model year. The Car of the Year process is not a comparison test; the winning vehicle is the one that, in the judges' opinion, best fulfills six key criteria: Advancement in Design, Engineering Excellence, Efficiency, Safety, Value and Performance of Intended Function.

Advancement in Design
The Passat's styling is clean and simple, but executed with a precision normally seen on expensive luxury cars. Car of the Year judge Tom Gale, Chrysler's former design chief, noted, "...like the Audi [A6], what is remarkable is the restraint shown with the handling of the design. Clean, beautiful surfaces have been refined for an engaging result."

Like the exterior, the Passat's remarkably roomy interior is clean and simple, with clear instrumentation and easy to use controls.

Engineering Excellence
With options that include a 2.5-liter five-cylinder gas engine, a powerful V-6 or a highly efficient turbo diesel – each with the option of marriage to a standard transmission or the seamlessly smooth dual-clutch auto-manual unit – Motor Trend found the powertrains of the Passat to be perfectly matched to the car.

Motor Trend editors particularly praised the diesel engine mated to dual-clutch auto-manual gear box. Engineering guru Chris Theodore noted of the combination, "...without the compromises that mainstream green vehicles impose-a true technological achievement."

Efficiency
The new 2012 Passat makes great strides in its efficiency thanks to the versatile powertrain. The standard 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine returned 26.5 mpg in testing while the optional turbo-diesel returned an average of 34.3 mpg. The Passat had the best fuel economy stats of this year's finalists over the course of 11 mixed-driving loops.

Safety
Between government mandates and consumer expectations, pretty much every car in this segment gets a standard complement of passive safety gadgets that include six airbags, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, ABS and brake-assist, among numerous other electronic aids.

The Passat, which seemed just as at home on an American interstate as it would the German autobahn, scored highly for its ability to help drivers avoid a crash in the first place. "What's more fun to talk about under the safety rubric is how well the Passat's chassis is tuned to keep it out of trouble, because well-driven, agile cars are less likely to plow into things than poorly controlled, flabby, clumsy ones," said Motor Trend Technical Editor, Frank Markus.

Value
By investing in a new facility in Chattanooga, Tenn. to build the Passat, VW has reduced the potential for currency fluctuations to negatively impact the price, as happened with the previous imported model.

With initial costs lower and overall ownership costs suppressed – thanks to improved build quality and VW's Carefree Maintenance Program – the 2012 Volkswagen Passat stands as a great value in a market segment driven by price-conscious consumers.

Performance of Intended Function
The 2012 Passat was intended to be an affordable, roomy, efficient mid-size sedan for the American family, and the car delivers perfectly on its mission statement. Car of the Year judge Chris Theodore summed it up best, "I was expecting a large, cost-reduced VW that had lost its Fahrvergnügen, but it's still there, just cloaked in Brooks Brothers."

Today's announcement marks only the second time Volkswagen has won Motor Trend's highest honor, the first being in 1985 for the then American-built GTI.


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  • 128 Comments
      Andre Neves
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dammit! For sure I thought it would be the Nissan CrossCabriolet ;)
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Richard M
      • 2 Years Ago
      If motor trend thinks this is the best passat ever made, that tells me a lot about the incompetence of their staff!!! Anyone owning a 2010 2.0t with a DSG and all of the extra luxury, comfort, design and reliability, knows this is far from true... What IS true is the major downgrade of the product for the US market.... Proof is, the europeans still have the redesign original... This means a car of the year for Motor Trend is purely calculated on the base price and chances of selling? I agree the old passat was more expensive... But was much better... VW management thinks they have a super car.... LOL... Based on current sales? In the TDI! Surely not in any other engine flavor!!! This is just another low tech car that will not last long againts the competition! Right now they were lucky to fill a gap in the market, lets see in a year! All the others are now using turbos, smaller engines, dsg transmission, direct injection to save fuel... VW had all this, now we have a larger engine no turbo, old style automatic transmission,no direct injection... And a much higher fuel /mielage....WOW!!! Lets make it car of the year because they have it in diesel no one can afford!
        Richard M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Richard M
        2010 Passat, 2.0L turbo direct injection 200 Hp with 200+lbs/in from 2500rpm.... With DSG transmission using 6.5L/100km ( 36.5 mpg) 2012 Passat. 2.5L regular injection with 170HP @5500 rpm no DSG doing less then 31mpg? And this is a good deal because it cost 9000$ less??
      chonnes
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm impressed that Volkswagen is able to build such a great looking 1995 Toyota Avalon.
        Brian
        • 3 Years Ago
        @chonnes
        ..... A car by the way that didn't even look good in 1995.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      Something fishy is going on here. Any comment that bashes this car is automatically upvoted-leading to trolls like cloumbianricer and poweredbylolz to get upvoted very high, while any comment that praises the car just a little bit are downvoted into hell. Bashing VW is the new "cool" thing to do.
        Alex740
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Or people are just bashing bland cars. Same thing seems to happen with Toyota.
          Alex740
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex740
          Because Justin, this post is about VW, so people are talking about VW. Seems pretty logical to me.
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex740
          Then why isn't EVERY SINGLE MIDSIZE CAR being bashed too? There is absolutely NO car in this segment which is even CLOSE to eye-catching.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        Numbest ride-name one car in this class that comes w/ a transmission that can be manually shifted and V6 paired togather other than the poor mileage Legacy GT Specs-like most interior space? Bad performance?: It is the BEST handling car in its class, and it has CLASS LEADING performance. Look up the specs before you run your mouth. VW reliability: I've owned 4 VW products,not a single one of them has had any problems. I took the Jetta 215k miles and the Eurovan 270k miles before I sold them off. Overpriced: you get what you pay for, it's a European car.
        bouljf
        • 3 Years Ago
        MT actually did three comparos with the Passat, Camry and Sonata; first with the entry level models, second with the “fuel sippers” and last with the top of the line models. Volkswagen won all three; MT editors are just being consequent with themselves.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        anonymous guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think it looks just like a 2002 Kia Optima.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      VW fought long and hard to snatch this award away, and in the end, they deserved it, and I'm glad that they got it. It's true that on paper, the Passat doesn't look good at all. Once you take a test drive of the car, you'll see why it got the award. It has hands-down the best interior materials in its class, the interior is full of refinement, it's almost silent,it's THE most spacious car in its class, and it has quite a few standard features. But that's not the part that is the best. The drive is truly like none other in this class. It is hands-down the most fun-to drive car in its class. It handles like a real German sports sedan rather than an appliance, unlike most cars in this reletively sedate class. And don't forget, it's one of two cars in this class whose gears can be shifted manually with a V6/ high output 4( throught the use of a DSG with paddle shifters, and the other car in the class is the Legacy GT which gets awful mileage.) This automatically makes it the enthusiast's choice in this class. Hell, even Mazda discontinued the manual 6. In short, to the average customer, this will not look good at all. The final power figures are only average (mind you, this engine uses its power up during low RPMS), the mileage is only average, the price is only average,and although handsome, it really is a very conservative looking vehicle. But if you are an enthusiast, and you are shopping in this class, this is almost definitely the best choice.
      CLASSIFIED
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lmao @ all the haters. VW will prove you wrong again and again and still you'll always hate. Still hung up over WW2, or something?
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @CLASSIFIED
        Agreed. People over here just love bashing anything and everything VW.
          BB79826
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          Well, considering how high VW's sales were in the late 90s with horrendously unreliable products like the Jetta and Beetle (waves as a former owner), I think VW has earned every bit of the latent hostility. It takes a loooong time to win back trust. Unquestioning loyalty is pathetic, really.
          screwamammoth93
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          or maybe they bash things that have electrical problems
          tipdrip215
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          BB79826 is right, it does take a long time for an automaker to win back trust. Look at what GM is having to do to win back customers after making mostly subpar junk from the mid 70's until the early 00's
      carguy23dt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not sure if it was what I would pick, but VW needs the attention if they are going to hit this sales goals. For some of you bashing reliability on them, I think you have issues. My parents have a Jetta TDI with 80000 miles on it, and hasn't had any mechanical issues.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carguy23dt
        [blocked]
          carguy23dt
          • 3 Years Ago
          And I meant their 2018 sales goal, not this years.
        NightFlight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carguy23dt
        Oh great, because one person is the perfect example of a statistically sound sample size. Get out of here with that garbage.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Lachmund
        • 3 Years Ago
        vwfailagain fails again. lolz
        Quen47
        • 3 Years Ago
        No, I think they said 2012, where it rather comprehensively beat anything Asian.
      Compliance
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey Justin. How about letting some other people comment for a while, mmm'kay?
        Lachmund
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Compliance
        Then why don't YOU have anything important to say?!
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