"I bought my Passat TDI from Carmax with 12,000 miles on it twelve years ago. I am now at 151,000 and still smile when I walk out to get in my car.
I am 6'5" tall, and even with my seat back all the way, there is still plenty of room for someone to sit behind me.
It has had its challenges over the years...had to replace the ECU in 2005, and have had to replace window regulators, door handles, locks, headliner, and should replace the gear shift boot and emergency brake boot.
The Passat handles well, although I would not say that it is sporty. It's compliant over bumps on the highway, and continues to be fun to drive with the manual transmission.
Given the huge, well-designed trunk, we have used this vehicle for family vacations, and I used it for years as a traveling office when I was in sales.
The engine has always been serviced with synthetic and runs very well. The turbo allows me to keep up and merge with highway traffic, and the cruise has kept me out of trouble.
It's been a great vehicle....and I've always averaged between 45 and 50 mpg...durability, economy, looks that don't go out of date...what more could you ask for in a vehicle?"
"Owned my '95 GLS 3 years now. 35 mpg (w/4 cyl eng) highway, 28 in town. Quite reliable and can hold a LOT of stuff (back seats fold to extend trunk). Door handles required minor adjustment (or else they drive one crazy), sunroof motor failed: easy, cheap repair. Was able to replace the expensive, small battery with a cheaper, bigger one. Replacing the spark plugs for a tune up, however, is a real challenge. Maybe I got lucky but this car, while looking like every other car, has been very good to me."
"I just bought one for about 500 bucks and it was all messed up because of the privious owner did not take care of it. I got it, cleaned it out, filled with oil and surpizingly EVERYTHING works! I do have and oil leak... This car is super fast even with a beat up engine. no smoke, and never stalls out. love it. and yes the door handels dont work..."
"...for the numerous problems this make and model are known for. Great little car with expensive design flaws....Windows, door locks, cooling system, various sensors and sealed trans. I would recommend this vehicle to a friend only if the known design flaws have been addressed by previous owner(s)."
"1997 TDI Passat, comfortable to drive, good mileage (45 to 46 mpg consistently), but a maintenance nightmare. Two transmissions, five water pumps, radiator, alternator, fuel injector pump, oil pump and all four door release mechanisms replaced twice ( Does not seem to matter if you get aftermarket door handles or the ones from VW, they break almost immediately). VW built reliable cars in the 50’s and 60’s but if you want a reliable vehicle now, buy a Honda."
"Hello america! if you ever come across a 96 vw passat GLX don't pass it down! with all 4 anti-lock brakes, strong v6, power everthing, heated leather seats and much more. but just like any euro car parts can expensive."
"It's a good car overall. Since it's reliable and get's better milage than kelly blue book says it does. I personally got 29 miles to the galllon on the highway. a mixture of city and highway is 25 miles to the gallon and 19 to the gallon is about right for city. I get complaints though that my old honda was more comfortable in the back seat than this car. the front seat is pretty comfy though just the back as much room as it has people say it just isn't comfy like my 97 honda accord was. but I like the way it handles at high speed Since I love driving fast it handles turns going pretty quick quite well. I think it's like a sport's car when it comes to handling. and it holds it's value pretty well. (unlike american cars)I'm quite an aggresive driver so if you need a car that can handle intense driving than look no further it's low price and great handling will ensure lot's of happinesss behind the wheel. I am not a volkswagon fan but I have to say I'm impressed with this car."