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Detroit has the North American Car and Truck of the Year. Chicago? The Family Vehicle of the Year. And for 2012, the winner is the Volkswagen Passat.

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The good people of Tennessee are no doubt thrilled to have a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. The facility already features well over 2,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, and now the German automaker is bolstering employment by another 200 full-time VW staffers, boosting the employment total to 2,500 full-time and temp workers.

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We have a soft spot for rugged wagons like the Volvo XC70 and the Audi Allroad, and while these useful soft-roaders are slowly going the way of the dinosaur here in the United States, they're still quite popular in Europe. Volkswagen is now getting in on the action with this, the 2012 Passat Alltrack – a more capable version of the Passat Estate that isn't offered Stateside.

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Consumer Reports is all hot and bothered. According to the publication, Volkswagen may be trying to game the vehicle review process by providing publications, like us, with slightly tweaked versions of production vehicles. What evidence does CR have to support this claim?

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We're pretty fond of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, and we aren't alone. But for all of the vehicle's merits, there are a few of our favorite options missing from the American order sheet. For starters, buyers in the land of the free can't bring home a long-roof version of the mid-sizer, and all-wheel drive is nowhere to found either. These absences are made all the more painful by the fact that European buyers can snag this, the new 2012 Passat Alltrack. The vehicle is set to debut at this year's

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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 fun

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It's a big deal when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety honors a vehicle with a Top Safety Pick designation, and now the 2012 Audi A6 and 2012 Volkswagen Passat can join the big deal club. The IIHS gave both VW Group vehicles the award after they received top scores in stringent front, side and rear impact testing. Both vehicles also feature electronic stability control; a must for any Top Safety Pick winner.

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The Volkswagen Passat has gotten a big makeover for 2012, with all-new styling and a lower price tag starting at $19,995. Now we know exactly what to expect for under $20k, thanks to VW's the new online configurator. For starters, the base Passat has the 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual. It also gets an eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth and dual-zone climate control.

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Americanized Sedan Shows Its German Roots

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2012 Volkswagen Passat – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2012 Volkswagen Passat – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2012 Volkswagen Passat – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2012 Volkswagen Passat – Click above for high-res image gallery

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