2012 Volkswagen Passat: Live Photos from NAIAS Plus Driving Footage and First TV Ad

One of the most highly anticipated world premieres of the 2011 NAIAS, the new U.S. market 2012 Volkswagen Passat, turned out to be one of the less exciting -at least in terms of design- introductions of the show. The US-built replacement for the European-sourced Passat literally looks like an extra-large Jetta, which drew its own share of criticism for its uninspired and generic looks. For comparison, we’ve added a few shots of the Jetta after the jump.

While the design may not be engaging, the car’s lower sticker prices will certainly attract more buyers as the new Passat will start from around $20,000 or some $7,000 to $8,000 less than the 2011MY it replaces.

However, keep in mind that while the base 2011 Passat was offered with a modern 200HP 2.0 TFSI, the entry-level 2012MY Passat will come with VW’s old 2.5-liter five-cylinder unit rated at 170HP.

Other engine options for U.S. buyers include a more frugal 140HP 2.0-liter turbo diesel that returns up to 43mpg, and a range topping 3.6-liter VR6 with 280HP and a 0-60mph sprint time of 6.5 seconds.

Volkswagen will manufacture the 2012 Passat at its new $1 billion Chattanooga factory in Tennessee, the automaker’s first U.S. assembly plant since it shut down its Pennsylvania plant in 1988. The mid-size saloon will go on sale in the States in mid-August.

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