Originally Posted by zlee
On the other hand, the year that Doug and I both own, 2006, the top of the line Jetta was actually a better car than the lower model Passat, so perhaps VW figured reworking it so the lines were more distinct would be good.
The 2006-2011 Passat was a pretty good car, but no one bought it. A lot of its potential buyers were scared off after the reliability roller-coaster that was the previous Passat. (I had a 2000 Passat wagon - loved it until pieces started falling off. That took two weeks after purchase.) Your and Doug's Jetta was a better sorted car though, reliability-wise.
The 2012 Passat follows the same road of the 2011+ Jetta: make it bigger, take money out of the interior finish, lackluster standard five-cylinder engine, invitingly low starting sticker price. They didn't go quite as far with mechanically decontenting the new Passat, retaining the independent rear suspension.
But you hit on an interesting question - will current VW owners be happy when they go to the dealer and find the new Jetta and Passat? Some will, but likely some won't.