August 24, 2011 As seen in The Wall Street Journal Online edition
Many car buyers take a Rip Van Winkle approach to the auto business. They buy a car, drive it for five years, or more, and don't pay much attention to what auto makers are doing until they are ready to buy something new. People like this who bought a midsize car priced below $30,000 during the middle of the last decade are going to find a profoundly changed competitive landscape when they start shopping again in 2012.
Consider VW's new Passat, which is rolling out to dealers now. The 2012 Passat that VW will sell in the U.S. isn't the same car it offers in Europe. Following in Honda's and Toyota's steps, VW designed the new Passat with American customers in mind. Americans are a big people, so the American Passat is bigger. The wheelbase is stretched by about three inches to allow for more space inside.
The heating and sound system controls are designed so American drivers can figure them out. Runic European symbols are out, rotary knobs are in. Volkswagen also cut a deal with Fender Musical Instruments Corp. to put the iconic Fender brand, best known for guitars and guitar amplifiers, on premium audio systems in its U.S. cars. The company's engineers revamped a seat-recliner mechanism after U.S. consumers gave it a thumbs down.VW doesn't offer a gas-electric hybrid Passat model... Instead, it has a smooth-performing 2.0 liter diesel engine that's rated at 43 miles per gallon on the highway. The new Passat gets an eye-popping highway range of up to 795 miles on a tank of gas.
August 24, 2011 The Wall Street Journal, Online "The Passat Is Hot on Camry's Trail" to read the complete article go to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903327904576526453849272820.html?KEYWORDS=passat#articleTabs=article
The Force Is Strong With This One!