After all the excitement about VW’s NMS (new mid-size sedan), and then to find out that it’s a Passat, is a tad anti-climactic. Even if it is a model made especially for the United States. It’s hard to shake the idea of a bigger Jetta: cheaper than the older model, but with less content. The ’12 Passat is expected to start at around $20,000, whereas its predecessor went for $27,915. This Passat will be made in VW’s new Chattanooga, Tenn., plant, run a 170-hp 2.5-liter five or a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6, and have front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive might be an option down the road. Interestingly, there’s also the possibility of a 2.0-liter turbodiesel that could return 43 mpg. We’ll assume VW’s product planners know what they’re doing, but the picture is far from clear.

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