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 Automatic
  • 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 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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


2 of 16 people found this review helpful

Repairs equal purchase price

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

My brother bought this car for a little old lady 9 months ago for 5k. Haha, ya right. He has already spent 4k fixing it and his mechanic says the ball joints are going, onther 1k. What a lemon. I drove the car, it may or may not have been owned by a little old lady but it definitely drives like one. What a piece of junk.



18 of 18 people found this review helpful

Oil sludge at 120k! read

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

Sure I took a risk buying this car used at 119,500 miles, but all the reviews online were pretty good for this car. 400 miles later I started having oil pressure lights and engine lights come on and when I googled the symptoms, I got all kinds of bad news about the car. Oil sludge is a problem and if it's not fixed fast, the engine will need replacing. I'm not even sure if there really is a fix for this problem. If you have this car, get it checked right away. These reviews make it look like a good car, but be careful and read the forums to see what will really happen if you purchase/own this car. 2002 also has this problem




A great car, but needs

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

We bought it brand new off the boat from Germany, and we still love the car at 75,000 miles. These cars do require a little extra appreciation of the engineering and sophistication of the 1.8 turbo four with its low speed torque and light weight. Previously, we owned 3 Toyota Camrys, which also required more repairs as they got older. VW and both local dealers have been good about recall notices and anticipating problems. I started using synthetic oil changes at 5000 miles when VW offered the 80,000 mile warranty, and I think it protects during cold starts and gives a little better mileage, despite the extra cost.




Vw - never again

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

Since I purchased this car 6 years ago, it has been in for repair at least 4 to 10 times per year, every year (on top of the regular oil changes). Always some electrical problem or oil leak. In the first 3 months all four tires had to be replaced. While the people at the dealer were always friendly and cooperative, they were not forthcoming with detailed answers about any of the mechanical/electrical problems.




Great on the road but

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

Great looking, fantastic out on the road, solid as a rock and just purrs at 80mph but the 2 second pause before the turbo kicks in when you step on the gas from a dead stop is one big negative. (you learn quickly not to pull out with oncoming traffic) Oh, a second negative, the engineer who figured that a rotary knob on the side to recline the driver's seat was a good idea needs to go back to design school, i.e. just reach behind you with your non dominant hand and rotate the knob while lifting your body weight from the seat ...yeah.




Vw passat review

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)

I am very pleased with my 2003 Passat. I considered the usual competition including the Camry and the Accord, but both were typical Japanese plastic and lacked any distinctive features. The Passat is really a European car (the only one of the VWs actually made in Germany, not Brazil, Mexico, or Hungrary. The Passat has exceed my expectations in all areas from performance to gas mileage. It was an excellent choice.



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.

Talk About The 2003 Passat

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 19
  • cty
/
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat*
Chat online with us
Email
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Phone*
Call us at 855-782-4711
SMS*
Text us at ED411