Though the Volkswagen Passat was first released in 1973, it was not until a year later that the Passat Wagon made its debut. The five-door wagon quickly became the standard for family station wagons in both America and Europe; however, Americans knew the Passat Wagon as the Dasher that was powered by a 1.5 l inline-four that reached about 75 horsepower. It was not until 1979 that Volkswagen introduced a 1.5 l diesel engine and, in 1981, Volkswagen only produced diesel-powered Passat Wagons in the United States.
The Volkswagen Passat B2 variant came around in 1981 and featured elongated windows, squared headlamps and ample interior space. The third generation of the Passat brought about a new wagon name and style. The Passat CL station wagon featured a contrasting black bumper, the addition of side accents and more rounded edges. It was not until the third generation that the United States' model dropped the Dasher title and adopted the European name, Passat. Gasoline engines were also brought back in the third generation.
In 1998, the Volkswagen Passat wagon's design dramatically changed in the United States. Instead of the original, plainly styled wagon, the 1998 version featured curvy lines, a cargo rack and available four-wheel drive. Volkswagen also offered buyers a choice of either a 5-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission during this period. The 2000 model year brought about a more luxurious and classy Passat wagon. New headlamps and taillights along with shiny chrome trim effectively put it in the luxury class of wagons. Later in 2004, the Passat wagon received a 2.0L turbocharged diesel engine upgrade as well.
Over the years, the Volkswagen Passat wagon has been awarded many prestigious titles from Best Family Car to Best Diesel Car to Most Sensible Car. The Volkswagen Passat wagon has also been featured in several feature films like National Lampoon's "Vacation" and "Swimfan." Television shows like Ghost Whisperer and Monk feature the wagon on several episodes as well. The Volkswagen Passat wagon has also long been considered one of the most fuel-efficient wagons available in America. Rumor has it that Volkswagen might be giving the Passat wagon an old-school facelift in the next few years, harkening back to its boxy roots. However, others claim that the Jetta wagon could possibly take over the Passat wagon's slot in the Volkswagen lineup. Volkswagen's representatives have yet to comment on the rumor.