In an effort to boost its sales, Volkswagen decided to manufacture a front-drive vehicle that could go against other vehicles—the Passat. Though it encountered ups and downs, the Passat remains to be one of the top-selling family cars in the history of the automobile industry.
Launched in 1973, the Passat B1 had two- and four-door sedan versions and three- and five-door models. For the 1974 model year, the Passat started to be marketed in North America under the name Volkswagen Dasher. The Dasher was initially powered by a carbureted 1.5 L inline-four engine which was then replaced by a Bosch fuel-injected 1.6 L inline-four engine in 1976.
The B2 Passat was sold in Europe under the name Santana and as Quantum in North America. In terms of performance, the Passat B2s were still powered by four-cylinder diesel or petrol engines. On the other hand, some models came with five-cylinder engines and Formel E transmissions that gave better fuel economy and higher top gear.
In March 1988, Volkswagen released the third generation Passat which was known as the B3. One notable change in this generation is the missing grille which made the B3 look like older Volkswagen vehicles. Other significant changes were the use of the Passat name in all countries and the shift from carbureted to fuel-injected petrol engines.
Although it was not considered as an all-new model, the restyled Passat which was released in 1993 was still tagged as B4. The grille which was removed previously was reinstalled, and the interior was somehow upgraded. Also, this model was powered by a Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine that could produce at least 89 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque.
In 1996, the Passat was once again revamped under the B5 platform. It was manufactured with a 1.8 liter petrol engine and a four-link front suspension that was fully independent. In terms of transmission, the fifth-gen models were available in 5-speed and 6-speed manuals and 5-speed automatic.
2001- 2005: B5.5
In late 2000, the B5 underwent some minor changes which gave way to the B5.5. This model had new bumpers, chrome trim, tail lights, and projector-optic headlights. A luxury version was also introduced during this period which was powered by a 4.0 litre W8 engine. From 2004 to 2005, the B5.5 was recognized as the only diesel-powered mid-size car sold in the U.S. because of its 2.0-liter Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine.
In 2005, Volkswagen released the Passat B6 which had a transverse engine layout. This particular layout was responsible for the shift to the Haldex Traction multi-plate clutch from the Torsen centre differential. During this period as well, the CC or Comfort Coupe was released. This Passat version came with several features such as lane-departure prevention, adaptive suspension, and hands-free parking.
2010-present: B7 and Alltrack
In September 2010, the B6 was revamped and named B7. The headlights and grille were restyled, and a fatigue detection system was installed. A year after the B7 was released, the Alltrack was introduced which was a cross between a passenger and SUV Volkswagen. For this model year, Volkswagen unveiled the Passat New Mid-size Sedan (NMS) which is set to replace the Passat B6.