2003 Volkswagen Passat Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Passat Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5900 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2003 Volkswagen Passat

  • This is our favorite midsize car -- in both sedan and wagon form. Don't make your vehicle choice without driving one.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Fun to drive, excellent value in GL or GLS trim, roomy interior with upscale feel, outstanding build and materials quality, available all-wheel drive.

  • Cons

    Expensive upper-level models, can't get AWD on GLS, less rear-seat room than Camry or Altima, some confusing interior controls.

  • What's New for 2003

    For 2003, a base GL sedan and wagon are available. Think of the GL as a GLS 1.8T for buyers who don't require any extras like alloy…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (576 total reviews)

Ok car but expensive ongoing

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

Bought new in 2003, still going with 172,000 miles. Comfortable and great handling car but it comes at the price of expensive, ongoing maintenance. The check engine light has been on for at least 1/2 its life and I just ignore it. Sometimes it goes off, sometimes it doesn't. Have had to deal with it every 2 years to pass state emissions though. Dash lights stopped working at 107k miles and had a wire meltdown. Required a new wire harness ($3,500) so I just use a clip on book light to illuminate the dash at night. If it weren't for the expensive and ongoing need for repairs, I'd highly recommend this car, but can't.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

Avoid this car like the

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

This is the most unreliable I've ever owned. This model is total rubbish and should have had recalls on the engine and all the hoses attached. It is the ultimate in cheap manufacturing. I have replaced the transmission all hoses and connections below the engine(plastic fittings that all cracked) the dip stick holder(plastic) that came out in multiple pieces when checking the oil the engine that froze and died when the oil strainer became clogged with sludge( the red light came on telling me to stop but by the time I could get off the road the engine was starved of oil and had to be replaced

Good car but doesn't leave

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Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A)

The interior is very nice and comfortable. I love the quality of leather. I inherited the Passat at 70,000 miles. I really wish it were turbo. I am going to put in a K&N CAI to give it more spunk. It does not accelerate quick enough for me. I wish I could do a turbo conversion on it but it would not be worth the cost. It is a difficult car to work on because you would have to remove so much of the front end to get to work. I am not looking forward to the 100,000 timing belt change. It will be very costly. No one likes working on these for fun. I like the tight handling. It needs more power. If I could find a good chip maker I would add one. Turbo is the way to go because you can modify.

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
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Full 2003 Volkswagen Passat Review

What's New for 2003

For 2003, a base GL sedan and wagon are available. Think of the GL as a GLS 1.8T for buyers who don't require any extras like alloy wheels, leather upholstery, seat heaters or a sunroof. Meanwhile, alloy wheels and sunroof are now standard on GLS models. The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system will not be offered on GLS V6 models, forcing interested buyers to cross the 30-grand line; however, VW has made stability control (ESP) optional on all Passats (except the W8, which has this standard). Also this year, you'll be able to get W8 sedans and wagons with a six-speed manual transmission and a sport package that includes a firmer suspension and the requisite 17-inch wheels. Lastly, the standard stereo head unit gets backlighting for the buttons.

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