"Bought my VW Passat Wagon (2003 model) with 1.8 engine and 5spd manual over a year ago. Car had 123,000 on it then, has over 150,000 now. Yes, it cost about a grand to do the timing belt/water pump/cam tensioner routine maintenance. I would have tackled that if I currently lived where I had a garage, but I don't, and it's -30 here in the winter.
I put good tires on this wagon (Michelin Pilot Exaltos) and keep the oil changed in it. A few things (power mirror, cruise control, center caps for wheels, rear windshield wiper) have given me some trouble, but for a 10 year old car with over 120k miles on it, I'm not shocked or dissappointed. I either fixed or had repaired the few minor problems I've had with this car. Overall, my wife and I love the car, love the power, love the handling, and LOVE the fuel economy. We've seen 32mpg on interstate roadtrips, and have never seen less then 26mpg with lots of town driving. We will buy another Passat wagon as soon as we have the cash for an upgraded year."
Pros: "drives amazing, great gas for a turbo, speedy"
Cons: "typical vw quirks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"bought it for a family car with 200,000 miles plan on putting another 200k on it maintenance can be fairly cheap. getting the car over 100k miles and having problems with it typical expect it vws are only built for the life of the car witch is typically 100k miles but they can go forever with proper care. for over 10 years old handles like a dream picks up and goes when needed. only major maintenance problem is oil change needs synthetic. you can "Americanize" it. can run it on the next gas down from premium with only horsepower loss."
Pros: "fun to drive. TONS of space in back of car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very nice car. Excellent handling...feels like a sports car not a station wagon. Expense so far has been the frequent replacement of the breaks... I do city driving and/or short highway driving. I plan to drive it into the ground as I doubt I will do better with a new car."
Pros: "Fun to drive diesel gives great fuel economy"
Cons: "Known mechanical weaknesses"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Automatic transmission torque converter has know weakness and is expensive to repair. Affects ALL Passats. Oil pump is chain driven, later upgraded to gear driven, chain wears out also expensive to repair.
Window regulators also known weakness, no VW recalls on any of these known issues.
Fuel savings off-set by cost of repairs to above mentioned mechanical weaknesses."
"I haven't had this car more than 60 days at a time w/o some warranty defect since I bought it. I'd say it's a lemon, but it is always something new. Turbo went at 60K, ignition coils went twice (VW finally fessed up with a recall on that one), radio needed to be replaced (thank goodness I bought the extended warranty). MANY other problems early like swing arms, sensors and cv joints. Worst car I've ever owned."
"Only owner of this car. Gets great mileage, fun to drive. The fact that it takes Prem.gas seems to off set, with around 35 MPG for a nice size car.Spendy for repairs good thing it hasn't needed many."
"Bought the car new in 2004...now has 113K miles..the car is super reliable...it has only given me problems once...and that was in the cold of winter..sitting outside. Turned out the original battery needed replaced after 5 years...not too shabby. Over all I love the car...it rides nice, handles like a German car should and for a 4 banger oil burner can get up and move. The fuel consumption is superb...38+ for a 2.0L Diesel...don't see a Hybrid in my future anytime soon. My only regret: not waiting for one with electric seats...but guess we can't have it all!"
"I purchased this vehicle new in 2005 and currently have 130000 miles driven. In many ways the car is almost new. So much so that I recently had a friend ask me if I'd gotten a new car since the last time we met. I have experienced some fall off in gas millage lately which I suspect is due to engine wear. Even at that I still consistently get 35 mpg. My long term goal is to keep this car for another 130000 miles or more.
The only negative I have about the car is its German engineering. Unfortunately no one other than a certified VW dealer will service this car. The TDI is a unique engine and frankly not something you want to have serviced by someone who is not intimately familiar with its ins and outs. This includes getting the oil changed. I made the mistake of having the oil changed by an oil change service only once and that was enough. Thus the oil changes are more expensive than what you would pay at your local jiffy lube. There are advantages to getting your oil changed at the dealer including there going over the vehicle looking for issues that may need to be addressed before you find yourself on the side of a highway calling for a tow. I can gladly say that at 130000 miles I have not had a breakdown and remain confident that the car can make the long trips I tend to make from time to time.
Lastly, If you have a reputable VW dealer in your local area this is a great car. If your VW dealer is less than you would desire, than I would encourage you to steer clear of this or any VW product for that matter."
"This vechicle has provided a constant 30/40mpg;other performance, acceleration,braking,passing have been beyond what one might expect;expense keep certified and performing have been a little above average"
"Bought used from dealership, first VW and won't be my last. Excellent all around - reliability, comfort, and options. A little disappointed with fuel consumption considering its a 4 cylinder, but I still get average 25 mpg so I won't complain too much! I do drive it hard a lot and the tiptronic gearbox is good fun.
In summary, a spacious reliable workhorse which I would recommend to anyone."
"My wife has absolutely loved this car! I'm a dealer and this is the first vehicle in a long time that my wife won't let go of. The quality is great and nearing 100k it still looks and performs like new. Only downside is the 18ish city mpg, which is a little on the low side for a wagon, also uses premium fuel. But this is one nice vehicle that has all the options of a luxury car with the extra storage families need."
"I love this car. my '03 is the second Passat I've had (had a jeep in between but only kept it 10 months before going back to the Passat!). The 1.8T manual is super fun to drive - feels like a sports car when you want it to...or a nice family sedan :) The handling of this car in snow & ice is fabulous (i don't have 4 motion) and is better than any 2 wheel drive car I've ever driven (with exception to the Jetta which was pretty equal!) and is even better than may 4WD vehicles! I guarantee my next car will be a VW, but I won't have to trade in for a while I've got 56K miles today and no signs of ANY mechanical issues that haven't been covered by warranty. The VW service department has been great (although I have most of my work done at the local shop & not at the dealer.) All around this is a very fun, stylish car to drive. The perception is that these are much more costly than they really are - so I get many turned heads. Also, with fuel prices skyrocketing I get an easy 27mpg city driving with my manual tranny - and about 35 highway! Love it. Buy it!"
"After trying a BMW wagon and selling my Jetta to fit my children's car seats, I find the Passat wagon to be ideal. There's tons of leg room in back for car seats, all of the seats are very comfortable, and there's still lots of cargo space. It never breaks down, and is so fun to drive. The turbo engine is fabulous in the high altitude, and it handles great in snow and ice (even the FWD) with the proper tires. Small complaints are that things like the rear ash tray, rear cigarette lighter and glove box handle are falling off (perhaps from being kicked by my kids), but all in all a great, quality car, that's well worth the money."
"This is my wifes car and I only get to drive this on weekends. 30 mpg city 40 mpg hwy at 80 mph. This is the first german car I have ever owned but will buy another one when the new diesels come out in 2008."
"These are the problems I have had:
I had to replace front cv joints. $600
The drivers side seat warmer burned my seat up.
My sunroof quit working.
My key would not work.
My door handle broke off.
The flex joint rusted off along with all the bolts that hold the joint on. $600
I wouldn't wish this car on my worst enemy. It is by far the worst car I have ever had. I always thought these were good cars but I was wrong. I have 2 friends with '07 Passat's and they are miserable in their cars also."
"I have a 02 GLX passat, it has been a very good car besides one thing..the oil pan is located at one of the lowest parts of the car and is known to break easily. My mechanic said that is the most common problem he sees for the 02 passat. So be extra careful going over dips and speed bumps!!"
"We droes a 2002 Passat GLS (100% German) with the Leather upgrade package for four years until it was wrecked in 2006. It performed flawlessly in all conditions and even in the frontend collision that caused its demise. It folded so smothly that the airbags didn't needlessly deploy and my wife walked away. I would recommend one in this 2002-2005 generation to anyone. We replaced it with a Subaru Forester since we were in the prosses of moving into the Central, NY snow-belt region and live on a hill. The 2006 Four-motion was not out yet when we needed a car. We love the Subary but it is a bit small and not our Passat. The Passat was nick-named by me as my "Mercedes 300 with out the pricetag".
Good Luck Shopping,
"I bought my 2001.5 VW Passat GLS V6 in October 2001. I ventured to the VW dealer after the cavalier salesman at BMW made me second thing getting a 325i. My experience has been pretty good with this car. Most of my issues have been some of the same that others have reported. I get water inside the car during heavy rains. I have been told that it was loose door hoses to clogged sunroof drains. There are several VW owners who have reported this concern. The car seems to burn oil. The manufacter suggest changes the oil every 5,000 miles. I have had the oil pressure light jump on in hard turns between the 4 to 5,000 mark and when I check the oil is a quart or so low. A sensor for my thermostat have to be changed last winter along with a new expensive heater core (thank goodness for that extended warranty that I almost forgot about). I have had a consistent wind noise with the driver's side door where there is a whistling. I was informed by VW that you should expect some noise. I have had other craftsmanship type issues that VW seemed to not be interested in. The car is fun to dry, but I expected more quality than received (window switch failure, interior painted plastic peeling, water leaks just to name a few. The car drives and handles well. I have heard from other VW owners who have not been satisfied with their local VW Service Departments. The Jury is still out if I would buy another VW and although I have had issues with my Passat, I still love to drive it."
"I've owned my 2001.5a GLX passat V6 for 3 years now and love the car. The car has great looks, a luxurious ride and plenty of Horse Power with the V6. the tiptronic trans works beautifully.
All the performance of the Audi less the $$$!"
"This is a great car, handles very well, good MPG and basically alot of fun to drive. However for a car with less than 50K on the clock i have had ALOT of things that have needed the attention (at alot of cost) of the dealer.
Fun to drive but get ready to empty your pockets for repairs!"
Pros: "Classic european style and snappy for a diesel"
Cons: "Need high octane diesel in winter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought car in 2007 so I am the second owner. No problems at all and car mileage is outstanding averaging 36MPG in winter and near 40MPG in summer. Just had it repainted in December. VW has the most cars in service over 100K and 200K miles many at 300K and more."
Cons: "Sun Visors to short to use on side windows."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Quiet, comfortable, over 30mpg highway, good performance when turbo kicks in entering freeway. Never any problems on the road. Fit and finish excellent - looks same as new except for normal dings and scratches. Never any leaks or unusual noises. Styling similar to 2012 Passat, people do not believe me when I tell them it is a 2002 model.
A few minor recalls, dealer fixed no charge. Used the extended warranty for 2 flat tires, axle boots changed once. Replaced motor mounts last year - fluid was seeping out the tops. A few other minor repairs made in recent years.
I was considering a new car but after looking at medium size sedans no suitable replacement was found. I fully expect this car will last longer than I will.
My wife refuses to give up her low mileage 95 Nissan 240sx; people walk up to our house and in parking lots asking if she would like to sell. Looks like my car buying days are about over."