2003 Volkswagen Passat Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Volkswagen Passat Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
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 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.

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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Avoid the turbo without a

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

Bought it used from an as is dealer. Trunk only opened with a key and the coolant looked a little funny, but I talked him down and thought I was getting a good deal even after I had to sink some money into it. $1900 later I gave up. The car kept over heating as engine oil was getting into the coolant system. Had the engine oil cooler, water pump, belts and thermostat replaced and it overheated again. I had to call it when they said the next step was to replace the turbo and if that didn't work, the head gaskets. Oh and the electrical module under the seat was faulty causing the trunk problems. Please take it to a dealer for an inspection before you buy it used. Had it for a month



4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Love and hate relationship

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

I loved my Passat, but hated when it went in for service. I work at a VW dealer so I'm thankful for an employee discount otherwise I'd had to get rid of this car long ago. It didn't matter if it came down to something as little as an oil change there was always something wrong. I owned my car 3.5 years and through 4 PA state inspections and it didn't pass any of them on the first try. I bought the car with 70k and trading it in on Tuesday with 115k on the odometer. Currently no check engine light, but to pass emissions it needs an O2 sensor and possible vacuum pump. After 3.5 years and almost 6k spent on service I've had enough. I loved the look and feel of the car just not the upkeep.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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.



5 of 9 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.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

People need to understand their

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5M)

This is my second VW i got this one very used it had 160K and one thing i can say for sure is you have to make sure all your maintenance is done up to date. These cars are very sensitive to that. I do my repairs my self Synthetic oil MANN filter Premium Gas and good K&N air filter I'm getting close to 30mpg on High way and 25.5 mpg in the city. Dealer is the last place i would go they are rip off specially Valley Motors in Hunt valley MD Changing oil and never touche filter or charging for service they don't do. Help your self and find a good small shop tech that knows VW and go to him he will keep you rolling for my repairs other than oil change I go to Izzy auto service in Reisterstown



Talk About The 2003 Passat

2003 Volkswagen Passat Discussions See all Started By

manni24
manni24
12-26-2013
Hello, I could really use some good advice here. I've just replaced the timing belt in my 2003 VW passat wagon. While aligning both left and right camshafts to fit the camshaft alignment tool, I turne...


shaneatlanta
shaneatlanta
12-17-2006
I was sitting in a drive through waiting for my order and my 2003 passat started shaking like it wanted to stall. The engine light came on and luckily I was about a mile from home. I drove slowly home...


extra80
extra80
01-31-2007
VW is not very responsive. Google Volkswagen Passat Engine Sludge and related keywords, and there appear to be alot of issues out there in terms of VW supporting their product....



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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 19
  • cty
/
  • 28
  • highway
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