Volkswagen’s latest design fascination seems to be with horizontal lines—witness the Euro Passat and the newly chiseled 2017 Tiguan that debuted in Frankfurt last week—and the new look has now found its way to the mid-size, American-market Passat. For 2016, VW gave the mid-size four-door a subtle yet significant aesthetic upgrade, as well as a bunch of new features aimed at keeping the family sedan competitive among an ever-improving field.
Introduced at an appropriately trendy event in downtown Brooklyn, New York, the revamped Passat’s doors, roof, and rail stampings are the only pieces shared with the outgoing model. The hood, front fenders, front and rear bumpers, and trunklid are all new, bringing with them a more substantial look that carries on the Passat’s tradition of reserved European styling (despite the fact that this car is built in Tennessee). The Passat now offers optional LED headlights and taillights—a first among VW sedans—and optional R-Line trim brings unique rocker panels, a black-accented front bumper, a rear-diffuser-esque piece (a must-have on front-wheel-drive family four-doors), and special 19-inch wheels wearing 235/40 rubber.
As of right now, Volkswagen says the 2016 Passat will bring the same three engine choices featured in the outgoing car: The base-model 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder, the 3.6-liter VR6, and the 2.0-liter TDI diesel four-cylinder. Given that VW halted sales of 2.0-liter TDI-equipped vehicles in the wake of the ongoing drama surrounding the EPA-cheating emissions-control systems the automaker admitted to installing on nearly half a million U.S. TDI vehicles, it’s unclear whether the diesel powerplant will be available when the 2016 Passat hits dealerships. If you’re looking for a thrifty Passat, VW says the 1.8T will do 38 mpg highway with the automatic transmission.
Exact pricing and a specific launch date haven’t yet been released, but VW says that for 2016 the base-model 1.8T S with a six-speed automatic will start at $22,400 plus destination—the same as the outgoing model.