#TBT: The ultimate beach cruiser: The 1974 Volkswagen Acapulco Thing

The Volkswagen Type 181 – commonly referred to as “The Thing” – has always been a fun summer classic for drivers who enjoy a cool and wildly original type of ride. The removable doors, retractable soft top and folding windshield provided a driving experience unlike any other Volkswagen. The 181 has also spawned one of the more unusual models ever to wear the Volkswagen badge – the Acapulco Thing. The Thing variant was specifically designed for two legendary, high-end resorts in Acapulco, a popular resort city in Mexico and destination du jour for Hollywood A-list celebrities in the 1960s and 1970s. As the Thing was assembled in Puebla, Mexico, the oceanfront hotels used the boxy beach cruiser to shuttle wealthy vacationers from the airport and the city’s sun-kissed shoreline. The Acapulco Thing’s popularity among the hotel’s ritzy, jet-setting clientele led Volkswagen to produce a limited run of the resort cruiser – about 400 cars in total – from May to July of 1974. Most of the Acapulco things were painted Blizzard White with blue accents on the rocker panels, running boards, bumpers and dashboard, although Volkswagen also made versions with orange, red and yellow base colors. The car had removable side curtains on all four of its doors, and its seats were upholstered with blue nautical stripes, adding to its coastal look. The Thing’s regular soft top could also be replaced by a seat-matching vinyl surrey top on a special high-profile tubular frame. Available accessory options for the car at the time of purchase included a welded steel roll cage, a detachable fiberglass hardtop (with luggage rack), an outside spare tire carrier, a front bumper push bar, electric winch, a radio, front and rear trailer hitches, chrome sport wheels and under-dash air conditioning. Like its Thing siblings, the car was powered by a rear-mounted air-cooled 1.6-liter flat-four engine, paired to a four-speed manual transmission. Over time, the Acapulco Thing has become both a collector item and template for Thing restoration; a true, verifiable Thing in decent condition can be hard to come by and could typically fetch well north of $10,000. But as the ID. BUGGY concept demonstrates, there is plenty of potential for new, unique, and exciting open-air driving experiences in Volkswagen’s future.

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Team Volkswagen kicks off Drive Bigger program to get charities back on the field

As the world works toward a new normal in the COVID-19 era, sports like soccer have had to adapt and try new approaches. With teams and players slowly returning to the field, the demands on soccer-related charities remain high, with programs delayed or cancelled and needs greater than ever. To help address those challenges, Volkswagen of America has worked with U.S. Soccer Men’s and Women’s National Team players who serve as brand ambassadors on Team Volkswagen. These ten ambassadors have chosen nine charities from across the country to support with a contribution from Volkswagen, to aid their communities and help support the sport in America. “Volkswagen welcomes our teammates from the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams, and we’re thrilled to donate to organizations that our athletes are passionate about,” said Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president, sales and marketing at Volkswagen of America. “Building the game at the grassroots level while giving back to our communities is the essence of what we mean by Drive Bigger.” “As a brand that has made strides to support the growth of soccer in the United States and empower and encourage young girls and women to pursue their dreams, I could not be more proud to partner with a brand that aligns with my fundamental values,” said Carli Lloyd, U.S. Women’s National Team co-captain, two-time FIFA World Cup Champion and two-time FIFA Player of the Year. From left to right: Jordan Morris, Ali Krieger, Crystal Dunn, Gyazi Zardes, Abby Dahlkemper Tyler Adams (MNT), Crystal Dunn (WNT), America SCORES: America SCORES works in schools across the country using soccer as an outlet to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and build confidence for a better future. “America SCORES is dedicated to making sure our 12,000 poet-athletes across the nation feel safe, secure and connected during this unprecedented time,” said Bethany Henderson, President, America SCORES National Network. The aid “will go a long way toward helping make sure we’re taking care of the kids who need it most, at a time when they need us most.” “I’m excited to partner with an organization like VW that is committed to growing soccer in the U.S.,” said Adams, “and allows its ambassadors to help charitable causes focused on sport, like America SCORES.” Abby Dahlkemper (WNT), Grassroot Soccer: This New Hampshire-based group leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, and be agents for change in their communities. Dahlkemper has worked with Grassroot Soccer since 2019, helping raise money to support more than 850 youths with critical health education and access to health services. Ali Krieger (WNT), Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS): This Washington, the D.C-based group seeks to empower women and girls from all over the world through soccer to realize their full potential, supports six unique programs that promote confidence, strength, character and leadership in a variety of ways. Krieger is an alumnus of WAGS from when the organization operated as a girl’s youth soccer league. Her team, Prince William Sparklers, coached by her father Ken Krieger, won multiple league championships during her youth soccer career. Carli Lloyd (WNT), The Women’s Sports Foundation: The goal of the WSF is to ensure that every girl and woman can unlock her potential through the benefit of sports and physical activity. It supports girls’ and women’s soccer dreams via community programs, travel and training funding, and advocacy for gender equity at the professional level. Lloyd has a long history with the group, taking part in many WSF initiatives such as #WeKeepPlaying, a digital conversation to discuss resilience and mental health for young athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s an amazing group of people who aim to increase female athletic participation and teach the benefits of sport to create a long-lasting impact beyond the playing field,” she said. From left to right: Tyler Adams, Samantha Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Kelley O’Hara, Weston McKennie Samantha Mewis (WNT), Hidden Gems: Mewis has been working for two years with Hidden Gems, a Chicago-based organization that connects girls who play soccer in low-income areas with professional athletes. The goal is to use the power of teamwork and soccer as an equalizer to increase young girls’ perceptions of their ability on and off the field. Weston McKennie (MNT), The Steve Nash Foundation: The foundation works to increase access to critical needs health and education resources for underserved children. McKennie has played in the foundation’s annual soccer Showdown and SNF Charity Shield soccer tournament, which raises money for SNF’s community programs and services for kids. “We’re so appreciative of VW’s support, and of Wes’ recognition of our work for kids,” said Steve Nash. “As a young athlete, for him to show so much awareness, empathy and dedication to improving conditions in our communities lend a lot of hope for the growth and long tradition of athletes compelling social change.” Jordan Morris (MNT), The Jordan Morris Foundation. Morris was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was nine years old. A two-time MLS Cup Championship and Gold Cup player, Morris uses soccer to educate, inspire, and support the lives of children with T1D. “Through soccer, we inspire kids with T1D to not let anything hold them back from accomplishing their goals,” he said. Kelley O’Hara (WNT), The Kelley O’Hara Scholarship Fund. The fund was created by Kelley’s youth club, AFC Lightning in Peachtree City, Ga., in honor of winning the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The scholarship fund aims to support two female players at the club to ease the financial constraints of playing at the collegiate level. “Kelley is a great role model and with Volkswagen’s help, she’s able to give back to the community and youth soccer club that shaped her dreams of becoming a USWNT player,” said Steve Muccillo AFC Lightning Executive Director. “We’re very grateful to Kelley and Volkswagen for helping our current players chase their dreams too.” Gyasi Zardes (MNT), The Columbus Crew SC Foundation: The Crew SC Foundation has long focused on improving the lives of youth in their community through Soccer. One program is Soccer for Success, a free after-school program dedicated to helping children establish healthy habits and develop critical life skills through caring coach-mentors and family engagement.

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Volkswagen dealers across the nation participate in Community-Driven Atlas Initiative

Volkswagen and its network of dealerships are supporting local communities during COVID-19 through the Community-Driven Atlas Initiative, a program that allows dealerships the ability to re-purpose their service loaner vehicles for community service endeavors like delivering food, masks and other essential goods to individuals in need. “We have been involved with a number of organizations in our communities for years now,” said Kristen Walker, marketing director for Coastal Volkswagen. “But we’ve seen the increased demand on services and the complications in delivering these services to residents in the last few months. We appreciate the opportunity to take advantage of the Volkswagen programs because it has allowed us to be useful in ways we might not have been able to before.” Since April, many dealers across the U.S. have participated in the program and are helping their local communities in unique and inspiring ways. Some are delivering community meals, while others are providing commuter transportation, but in the end, all are choosing to “Drive Bigger” and help out their neighbors during this critical time of need. Check out just a few of the ways Volkswagen dealers are stepping up for their community: Coastal Volkswagen: Located in Hanover, Mass., Coastal Volkswagen deployed its fleet of Volkswagen Atlas vehicles to several nonprofits in their area including Wellspring Multiservice Center, a nonprofit that recently expanded its food pantry services to deliver food to families that rely on schools to provide their children with free or low-cost meals. “When it became clear that schools were going to stay closed, we knew we could help,” said Walker. Eager to assist, five employees from Coastal Volkswagen stepped up and volunteered to make deliveries for the organization and serve approximately 20 families each week. Cherry Hill Volkswagen’s Lou DiMattia and Amanda DiMattia in front of the Atlas on the day of deliveries. Cherry Hill Volkswagen: As part of the program, Cherry Hill Volkswagen donated and delivered 70 pizzas and 100 cheesesteaks to a local hospital in Camden, N.J., which fed 170 people in the medical center’s COVID response department. Thanks to the spacious interior of the Atlas, it was an easy process. “The car is so versatile,” said Amanda DiMattia, CEO of Cherry Hill Imports Auto Group. “The Atlas can handle a car full of people or a car full of food, in this case. It was awesome for this opportunity.” DiMattia was excited about the Drive Bigger campaign when it launched last year. While the last few months have put new pressures on everyone, it has also been an incredible opportunity to put the company’s ethos into practice. “We always want to do something more and that is what Drive Bigger is all about. I am excited to see us continue this momentum,” she said. Jack Daniels Volkswagen: Colleagues at Jack Daniels Volkswagen in Fair Lawn, N.J. were excited to give back to their local community. General Manager Don Chittum and Chief Operating Officer John Nunley used an Atlas to make two donation drops to essential workers this spring. “It was enlightening to see what everyone is doing during this time,” said Chittum. “Enlightening really is a great word for it. We are in a bubble at the dealership, so it was good to step away and see what people are going through. It was very eye-opening.” The Jack Daniels dealership team delivered weighted blankets, certificates for car cleaning and respirator masks to a local hospital. Chittum, Nunley and other volunteers were able to spend the day with the center’s nurses and doctors, who thanked them for the donations and shared their perspectives on the pandemic. Additionally, Jack Daniels Volkswagen delivered lunch to 140 police and correction officers at the local sheriff’s department. “Giving back to the community was a great feeling,” said Chittum. Jack Daniels Volkswagen’s General Manager Don Chittum and Chief Operating Officer John Nunley of Jack Daniels Volkswagen delivered blankets, masks, car cleaning certificates, and lunch to a local hospital and sheriff’s department.

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#TBT – Volkswagen Golf Country

Built in 1990, the Golf Country was an early foray into the crossover SUV category for Volkswagen and even predated the Toyota RAV4—one of the first mass-market CUVs—by four years. With just 7,735 vehicles produced in two years from 1990 to 1991, the rugged, off-road worthy Golf Mark 2 variant – with lifted suspension and all-wheel drive – is now a collectible modern classic. Volkswagen introduced the “Montana” concept at the Geneva Motor Show in 1989. At the time, the off-road Golf Mark 2 variant was exclusive to Europe. The crossover was never meant for production, but the surprising demand seen at dealerships drove Volkswagen to manufacture it. Pre-assembled, all-wheel-drive Golf Syncro vehicles were shipped from Germany to Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria—the same specialty manufacturer that built the Steyr Puch Haflinger and the original Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Using a largely tubular lower subframe, Steyr effectively lifted the four-wheel-drive Golf Syncro 4.72 inches, resulting in more than seven inches of ground clearance. In all, 438 unique parts were fitted to each Golf Syncro to earn it the Golf Country designation, including a revised suspension, front and rear bumper bars, a rear-mounted tire carrier, four additional auxiliary front lights and an underbody armor that protects its outboard constant-velocity joints. The 1990 model photographed has had a Thule roof rack and PIAA light bar fitted. While all this additional weight seems like it would overpower the Golf Country’s 1.8-liter 97-horsepower engine, it doesn’t feel like it from the driver’s seat. The gearing, slightly lower than that of the front-wheel-drive Mark 2 Golf, provided the four-cylinder with enough pep to get around without any drama. The Country model soaks up bumps and ruts in the road with ease. There is pronounced body roll in cornering that may catch modern Volkswagen drivers by surprise—the Country is a Golf that loves to lean in. Several special edition versions of the vehicle exist including “Chrome,” which featured chrome-trimmed, retrofitted tubular steel bumpers and wheels, along with a better-appointed interior. Only 558 Golf Country Chrome editions were produced, and they were sold at a premium over the already expensive utility vehicles. Rarer still is the “Wolfsburg Edition” which comes with the more powerful 16-valve GTI engine under the hood. Despite being legal to import one into the U.S., there are just a handful of Golf Country models that exist here in any trim. Overall, the drive experience of the Golf County is nothing if not charming 30 years later. of    

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Meet the updated 2021 Volkswagen Arteon

The Volkswagen Arteon has been a stylish sight on American roads since its arrival last year – and for the 2021 model year, the Arteon will get a host of technology and style updates, inside and out, to keep its edge. Designed to evoke the sportiness of a coupe with the space and flexibility of a midsize sedan, the Arteon comes with a dramatic upgrade with the addition of a new light bar in its grille. Available on mid-level trims and above, the new light bar surrounds the new Volkswagen logo and creates a light signature in day and night driving that’s instantly memorable. Beyond the grille, several other design features have been updated, from the front apron to the rear badging. Three new available colors – Oryx White, Kings Red Metallic, and Lapiz Blue – also bolsters the Arteon look, while the profile keeps its aerodynamic sleekness with a low drag coefficient of 0.265. of Inside, the Arteon interior has been fully renovated with new technology, new materials and new designs. The reworked dash now features Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit as standard, along with an 8-inch Discover Media touchscreen powered by the latest MIB3 entertainment system. MIB3 offers natural voice control, multi-phone pairing that can easily switch between compatible devices, and wireless App-Connect.1 The Arteon will offer the first high-end available sound system designed by audio specialists harman/kardon for Volkswagen. The system uses a 700-watt, 16-channel Ethernet amplifier to power 12 high-performance speakers. The system comes with pre-configured settings, such as Pure, Chill out, Live and Energy, or can be tuned to individual preferences through the entertainment system. Volkswagen’s interior designers reworked the entire dash, center console and door trims, with upgraded fabrics and leather throughout. Available 30-color ambient lighting, aluminum and leatherette trim surfaces, and even premium stitching give the Arteon more interior ambience than its predecessor. The technology updates continue with the new generation of multifunction steering wheels featuring digital touch surfaces. The center dash also includes touch controls for the optional three-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control. For 2021, the Arteon features a simplified trim lineup—SE, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line. The power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, making 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel. The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic® shifting; 4Motion all-wheel drive is available on SEL R-Line models and standard on SEL Premium R-Line models. This information and any vehicle specifications are preliminary and subject to change.

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A Florida father-son mechanic duo restores vintage Volkswagens

Gregg and Dalton Ammerman in their garage in Ocala, Fla. Gregg Ammerman has loved vintage Volkswagens ever since he purchased his very first car, a watermelon green Super Beetle, in 1982. His passion for the brand has grown over time, and now the former Army mechanic shares his love for car restoration with his youngest son, Dalton Ammerman. The father-and-son duo began restoring cars over five years ago, starting with a yellow 1978 Karmann Convertible Super Beetle in 2015. Together, the Ammermans worked on the car for months, with Gregg leading the mechanical efforts and Dalton, then just an eighth-grader, recording their progress and posting videos on the family’s social media channels. “That was the car that made me fall in love with Volkswagens,” said Dalton. “I would come home from school, help out with the convertible and listen to music with my mom and dad.” When it was finally completed, they showed off the masterpiece at over fifty car shows before selling it. “After that… I had to get one for myself,” said Dalton. He worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, an old 1972 Beetle, that he bought nearby in central Florida. “I knew it would be a lot of work to fix it up, but that was part of the fun,” he said. Dalton Ammerman worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, a 1972 Beetle. After its successful restoration, it was totaled after its first drive. Dalton and his father spent a full year restoring the Beetle together, including replacing the engine, adding a handmade shifter, re-painting the car black, red and light yellow, and adding brand-new brakes, tires and a stereo system. Once it was as good as new, Gregg and Dalton took the restored Beetle out for its maiden voyage. With Gregg behind the wheel, both Ammermans enjoyed their work of art – but it didn’t last long. After about 25 minutes, another vehicle driving the wrong way down a one-way street collided with the newly restored Beetle. It was totaled after its first drive. “The most important thing was that we were both safe,” said Gregg. “We got knocked around and were pretty scared, but we were okay.” The father-and-son team were heartbroken and shaken, but they knew the accident would not discourage their love of restoration. In fact, Gregg doubled down on his hobby and began restoring Volkswagens full-time. Dalton began investing in more video equipment to record the family’s vehicle restoration efforts for social media. The Ammermans pose with one of their restoration projects in their garage in Ocala, Fla. “Although Dalton is mechanically inclined, his true talent is with recording the restoration process and editing the footage,” said Gregg. “I’m glad he’s found his own path, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to take both our talents and become invested in something together.” With Gregg’s mechanical skills and Dalton’s videography, their social media channels have since attracted hundreds of followers and created a community of Volkswagen enthusiasts. “We love to connect with other families who are working on restoration projects,” Dalton said. “Without social media, we never would have known there were so many bug-lovers like us around Florida.” The father-and-son duo at work on a restoration project in Ocala, Fla. Nearly two years since the accident, the father-and-son duo is busier than ever. Gregg sometimes must turn away restoration projects because there is too much work for the two-person team. “This work has been the love of my life,” said Gregg. “There’s nothing like the nostalgia of a Volkswagen Beetle, and I love being able to take drivers back to the feeling of when the car was new. It’s a blessing to share these projects with my son.” Dalton plans to continue helping his dad while he attends college just thirty minutes away from home next year. “This is something we’ll do together for as long as we can,” he said.

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#TBT: History of the Volkswagen Passat in the U.S.

  2020 Passat Most Volkswagen fans think that the Golf is currently the longest-lived Volkswagen nameplate, but that honor actually belongs to the Passat, which went on sale a year before the Golf in Europe, in 1973. Based on the Audi 80, the Passat was initially sold in two- and four-door fastback sedan and three- and five-door hatchback form, with a wagon joining one year later. In the U.S., the Passat was marketed as the Dasher, and sold in all three versions from 1974. More than 222,000 were sold before the car was replaced by the second-generation Passat, this time marketed as the Quantum. The Passat name appeared for the first time in this market in 1990, and has remained ever since. Until 2011, all U.S.-market Passat models originated from Europe. A sea change occurred in 2011, when Volkswagen started building an entirely different car, tailored to American midsize sedan tastes. More affordable, the U.S.-market car was codenamed New Midsize Sedan (NMS) and was larger both inside and out than the eighth-generation European car that debuted in 2014. The current U.S. Passat has been given two updates since first going on sale, and has been exported to Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Middle Eastern markets. A version of the car has also been on sale in China, assembled by SAIC in Shanghai, alongside the Passat Lingyu and Magotan. 1974 Dasher (Passat B1) 1974 Dasher (Passat B1) The Dasher marked a number of firsts for Volkswagen in America: first water-cooled VW, first front-wheel-drive model, and first vehicle designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who also styled the Golf at his ItalDesign company in Turin, Italy. The Dasher went on sale with one engine choice, a 74-horsepower 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder. In 1976, the engine was replaced by a Bosch fuel-injected 1.6-liter four making 78 hp. In 1979, a 48-horsepower 1.5-liter diesel engine became available. Two major differences separated the early Dasher from Passat models sold in other markets: round, rather than square, headlights, and big, federally-mandated bumpers. 1987 Quantum Syncro (Passat B2) 1982 Quantum (Passat B2) Like the Dasher, the Quantum was based on the European Audi 80 (4000 in the U.S.). As with its predecessor, there were multiple body styles: a wagon, a three-door hatchback, and a four-door sedan. The base four-cylinder engine gave just 74 horsepower, but a five-cylinder 2.2-liter engine that produced 100 horsepower became available for 1984. By the end of the car’s life, it was making 115 hp and was available with the Syncro full-time all-wheel-drive system, based off Audi’s Quattro drivetrain. The Quantum didn’t sell particularly well, mainly because it was priced close to an Audi, but without the Ingolstadt maker’s cachet. 1990 Passat Wagon B3 1990 Passat B3 The first Passat to be built off a Volkswagen, as opposed to Audi platform, this was also the first model to be marketed as “Passat” in the U.S. It was based off a stretched Golf platform, with a transverse front-engine layout; it was also engineered to accept Volkswagen’s own Syncro all-wheel-drive system. It was sold only as a four-door sedan and a wagon, with slightly bland styling dictated by aerodynamics—there was no grille at the front, just a large VW badge. The U.S.-market Passat had a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 134 horsepower; from 1992, the 2.8-liter VR6® engine making 172 hp was available, giving the car a significant performance bump. 1997 Passat B4 1995 Passat B4 Although the 1995 model was designated as a new Passat, it was more of a comprehensive facelift. The bland face of the previous car was replaced by a waterfall grille to give the car a more aggressive appearance. Inside, there were now dual airbags and tensioned safety belts in place of the previous car’s motorized belts. As before, it was available as a sedan and a wagon, with two initial powertrain choices: 115-hp four-cylinder engine and 172-hp VR6. Later on, from 1996, a four-cylinder turbodiesel was available, making 90 hp. 2001 Passat GLS B5 1998 Passat B5 The 1998 Passat was a revelation in the U.S. market, offering upscale interior appointments with the kind of design that the previous two generations of Passat couldn’t approach. Based off the PL45 platform that was shared with the Audi A4, the Passat sedan and wagon were among of a plethora of great-looking Volkswagen Group products that were signed off by design chief Hartmut Warkuss—think Audi A4, A6 and TT, along with VW’s New Beetle, Mark 4 Golf and Jetta. This was another example of platform sharing, with the Passat being closely related to the Audi A4 and A6. The car was facelifted during the 2001 model year and was available with no fewer than four engines over its lifecycle: 134-hp turbodiesel four, 150-170-hp 1.8-liter turbo four, 190-200-hp 2.8-liter V6, and the ferociously complicated and slow-selling 4.0-liter, 270-hp W8. All-wheel drive was also offered late in the car’s life. 2006 Passat B6 2006 Passat B6                        Completely redesigned, the Passat again reverted to a Volkswagen platform, with a transverse engine location in place of its predecessor’s longitudinal arrangement. The new car featured fresh styling, more power, and was bigger overall. The wagon followed a year later and all versions were powered by either a 2.0-liter turbocharged four making 200 hp or a 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6. The latter was available with Volkswagen’s Haldex-based 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system and an automatic transmission. This generation Passat offered more safety features such as standard ABS and stability control, plus six standard airbags, and was more luxurious, with available navigation and dual-zone climate control. 2012 Passat 2012 Passat New Midsize Sedan In 2011, Volkswagen started producing the Passat for the North American and other world markets out of the company’s state-of-the-art assembly plant in Chattanooga, TN. Specifically designed for North America, the Passat was bigger than the car it replaced, with massive amounts of rear-seat and trunk space. It was also much more competitively priced in order to battle the established midsize sedans from the likes of Toyota, Honda, and Ford. Initially, the car was offered with a 140-hp turbodiesel four, 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder and a 280-hp 3.6-liter VR6. In 2013, the five-cylinder was replaced by a turbocharged four making the same horsepower, but slightly more torque. The car was refreshed in 2015, with slightly different styling and a raft of new driver assistance and infotainment systems. The diesel was dropped after 2015, and the V6 disappeared for model year 2019, by which time the 1.8-liter four was supplanted by a 2.0-liter making 174 hp. For the 2020 model year, the design of the Passat was completely overhauled to look sleeker and more modern.

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