LA Auto Show: Motortrend Car of the Year | Volkswagen Passat TDI

Frank Fischer poses by the winning car. Fischer is Head of Operations for VW’s Chattanooga plant, where the Passat is built.

The 2012 VW Passat beat 35 competitors to win Motortrend’s Best Car of 2012. The Passat is also one of the most fuel efficient, outperforming many hybrids with its 43MPG (Highway) diesel engine. VW has been selling their clean diesel vehicles in the US longer than most, and like Mazda, are focusing on diesel as a way to bring customers a more efficient vehicle. I spoke with Guenther Scherelis, VW’s General Manager of Communications. He explained that the Passat is designed to be a reliable, practical family sedan.

Volkswagen CC: Feels like a Sedan, Drives like a Sportscar

VW also unveiled the new Volkswagen CC, which will be powered by either gasoline or their diesel direct-injection system. All their diesels are equipped with a stop/start system and battery regeneration under braking as standard equipment. The gas engines will also incorporate the regeneration but I was not able to find out if it’s going to be standard. For the US market, the gas engines will have 197hp.

The available options are where this gets interesting. Moving toward creating a self-driving car, they have features such as Side Assist Plus & Lane Assist (for help in lane changing), Fatigue Detection, Traffic Sign Detection, and Dynamic Light Assist (to automatically dip high-beams). As a motorcyclist, I like the idea of cars warning their less-than-attentive drivers that it might be best to wait until I pass to make that lane change.

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.