I bought my 1996 Passat with 119,000 miles on it. It now has 161,000 and still pulls strong. I have had to replace belt tensioner, water pump, and other numerous little items that you'd expect to change at 150,000+ miles. Make sure that you have the intake cleaned after 75,000 miles! They tend to smoke more on start up with clogged intakes (typical for TDI's). The best gas mileage that I have gotten is 53 hwy in the summer, The worst was 39 mpg, in combined driving using winter diesel. The car feels solid and well built, except for the door handles. It is not an eye catcher, but it is rare. The stock seats are too stiff. Also, you lose noticeable power with the A/C on. This car has an excellent turning radius. It makes a great daily commuter.
I like how you can open and close all of the car's windows, including the moonroof, using the key in the door. The gas mileage (the sole reason I bought it) is great and it has pretty good power.
VW has already taken care of these will its newer models.