"I bought this car used from a colleague in 1998 and have owned it since. Despite having a tough life being used mostly for city driving in the northeast and being parked on the street where it's been assaulted every winter by salt and sand trucks and plows as well as potholes, it has virtually no rust and has held up very well. During my last auto inspection, the mechanic commented on how tight the front end is. Never had a breakdown or a major mechanical failure in the 12 years I've owned it."
"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It's been a great vehicle....and I've always averaged between 45 and 50 mpg...durability, economy, looks that don't go out of date...what more could you ask for in a vehicle?"
"If your thinking of purchasing one of these VR6 passats or VR6 anything, rethink,..and run for the nearest Totota dealer. These engines and transmissions ( auto ) have a number of designe defects, leaving owners with huge repair bills. These units as well as the Jetta line are manufactured in Mexico and have a very poor QC standard."
"I've had this car since '99. I've only kept it this long, because it's paid for. Like many other reviewers, I've had a lot of problems with the car beyond the normal maintenance. I've also replaced the door mechanism on all four doors multiple times, and three of the four doors don't work correctly right now. That is my biggest complaint about the car. Otherwise, the V6 engine has plenty of power, and the ride is decent. As far as a recommendation, I'm not sure how many people are in the market for a car from the mid- to late-90s. If so, stay away from the VW Passat."
"If you know what's good for your pocket book.... RUN far from anyone trying to sell you a VW.
I bought mine from my cousin the car dealer and don't talk to him any more. He refused to take the car back 2 months later when the camshaft needed replaced. But the nightmare goes on. I spent just shy of 1000 fixing that issue then afterward it's needed monthly repairs that average 800 dollars each ever since. I paid $3500 to buy it, and have spent about $7,000 since then trying to make some decency out of the money I've already spent, thinking what else can possibly go wrong? The TRANNY nOW!!!"
"I absolutely hate hate hate this vw ... I bought it from a friend 3 years ago and yes it is a 96 and I know it will have its problems but the problems I have had is by far the worst compared to my eighties volvo! I have replaced a bearing a tie rod a water pump a crank sensor some other sensor all the door handles break often they decided to put the most cheaply made door handles ever I mean it is endless with repairs it has been in the shop more then I have had it ... however when it does have a good day I do enjoy the sunroof and the style of the vehicle I would only recommend to someone if they truly love vw and understand how much they break"
"I have owned this car for 15 years now and have nothing but good things to say about it. I liked the design and the practical aspect of a station wagon. Not as bulky as a minivan or SUV, but with more space than a sedan. Excellent performance and reliability on this wagon. Total repair costs so far are approximately $ 1,200. Would purchase another VW Passat station wagon but found out that VW is no longer selling them in USA, now that the NMS will be built in Tennessee."
"my father bought this car 4 years ago and the previous owner had poorly maintaned it, so the first few times it went to the shop it cost about $500 each time but after about 3 trips it hasnt let me down in the 3 years ive driven it nearly daily.
it has been a very good car, mileage ranging from 39.5-57.25
averges 45 on a regular basis"
"bought this car 3 years ago and have change twice refurbish water pump and auxiliary pump once, angine still ok, oil leak but no a problem, CC does not work since bought it, as far as door handles that people complaint, mine did not open doors, so I look at it and all I did is adjust the screw for the locks, which is locate on the side of the door cover with a plastic, you should remove it and tide the screw and done, as far as sun roof motor, junk yard motor from a jetta works, so far my trasmision fail in the begining, but once warms run good, dont know why."
Cons: "windows, door latches break with age, cup holder is a terrible add-on design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this '97 black exterior, black leather interior GLX with 6k miles on it. My guess is the previous owner lived in the south bay of SF (san jose, palo alto, mountain view, etc), bought it in the winter, got to summer and said "holy solar flares, it's an oven in here!"
I live in SF, where it's never summer and never hot, so it's the perfect car for SF and maybe Seattle. But trips to wine country, east bay in the summer, and a late spring road trip to AZ/UT (canyon country, Moab, GC, etc) are brutally hot.
Love the way this car drives. Even with 150K miles, still drives and handles great. Incredibly fun, responsive to slightest nudge on accelerator, comfortable to be in the cockpit all day.
The bad news: the details. All 4 power windows have needed to be replaced cause the clips break and the windows stop tracking correctly. The sunroof broke once too, and over my mechanic's advice I asked him to fix it (and it works now). I gotta have my sunroof and radio, those are must-haves for me. I had the same issues with the door not latching shut in cold weather (winter morning in Tahoe) and had to wait a few hours until the sun warmed it up a bit). The door handles are horrible -- they look fine but the operation is not intuitive; I've had to instruct every friend and family member that they need to do both push (with thumb on handle base) and pull (latch out away from base), just pulling doesn't work effectively and eventually weakens the door latch. Currently, both rear doors don't open from the outside anymore; have to open from the interior.
The stock rims are an odd 215/50/15. Only 1 remaining all season tire model left that I can ever find on tirerack.
But love the rear log room in this vehicle; far more than comparable Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Infinity G35, Toyota Camry etc. I bought this car partially for this reason, so if/when any 6'3" friends are in the back seat I don't have to move my seat up. And I never do. Huge trunk for size of car too.
Long story short: love the car and if I went back in time 10 years would buy it again 10 out of 10 times, but unless you find one with only 50k on it, don't recommend buying it now ... unless you stock up on tires or switch to a different sized rim."
"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."
Pros: "doesn't leave you stranded..powerful and torquey"
Cons: "small things breaking are like water torture"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Bought my car with 100,000 miles on it. Drivetrain(manual) has been reliable. Strong engine and great handling, but as others have noted, the small stuff will drive you crazy. the previous owner had extended warranty that had expired. I know why she sold it. It was in the shop about every 2 months. Even the instrument panel failed. These are our repairs: window regulators, leaky windows, door handles(of course!),heater core, cooling system leaks (upgraded parts solved this), fuses mysteriously blowing, 2 clutches, clutch pedal, heater controls.
Oh well, now it's like an old dog. Gonna keep it til it dies."
Pros: "Roomy, looks good, good in snow, responsive, rare"
Cons: "Expensive parts, no front cup holders, money pit"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Bought this car at 137k miles. Loved it after I drove it, got it at $1200, which was about half the kbb, and a month goes by and I find out the sun roof is leaking. Spent $400 on labor and an entire new sun roof. Another few months go by, then this car left me stranded in a neighboring city due to it overheating. Take it to the mechanic, they tell me it's the water pump, replaced it, another $500 for the pump and labor. I take it out from the shop, and the dang thing overheats again before I even make it home down the street no more than a mile. Next I replaced the thermostat, $100, and now the windows are randomly going down when I close them, which is another venture I do not feel like going through, so I am selling it after replacing everything really mechanically wrong with it. I love this car, but I was looking for a $1200 car to get me to work, but instead I got a project that I am over a thousand dollars into."
"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 absolutely would not recommend that anyone ever buys one of these cars. I though I was getting an awesome deal on this car because I'm a mechanic and it was cheap so I figured I could fix it. I was wrong about 1500 later I still have a ton of repairs on it. If this was a regular customer they would have about 5000 into it and still needed work done to it. It seems like every time I get it fixed something else is wrong with it."