In the early 70s, VW Beetle sales were starting to slow down, gas prices were high, and Honda and Datsun offered American drivers well-made, economic alternatives to the popular larger cars of the day. The time was right for Volkswagen to offer something new: the Dasher.
This first iteration of the Passat arrived in the U.S. in 1974. Priced above $4,000, this front-wheel-drive Volkswagen cost more than the 1974 Civic or 1974 610 but promised luxury in addition to economy. From its first advertisements, the VW Passat (Dasher) was marketed as luxurious yet still affordable.
To celebrate this upmarket family car’s affordability over the years - and to check out how pricing has changed - we created this chart:
Note: Using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator, we adjusted prices for inflation.
VW's longest-running nameplate had to endure a number of iterations before it really found its niche, but it’s been selling strong since the mid 90s.
Here’s some fast facts about VW’s Passat:
- A VW brochure for the 1976 Dasher promised it could do 0-50 mph in 8 seconds.
- The 1974 model was called Passat in Europe and Dasher in America.
- The first generation was built on Audi’s popular B1 platform and performed much like the Audi Fox.
- The 1982 Quantum, was built on Audi’s B2 platform but only offered 74 horsepower.
- There was no 1989 model year Passat in the United States. In 1990, it was introduced as the “Passat” in America.
- The third generation of Passat no longer borrowed directly from Audi and had a transversely mounted engine instead of the longitudinally mounted motors previous generations had.
- The mid year model of 2001.5 received noticeable improvements: The grille was sharper and integrated into the front bumper, chrome accents were added to window surrounds, and horsepower increased to 170.
- Motor Trend named the 2012 Passat Car of the Year.
- Priced below $28,000, the 2016 Passat was named Best Midsize Sedan by Cars.com.