First, I can not understand why there are so many parts within the wheel bearing. That aside, my car has been a very reliable car. After 120k miles, I have replaced all of the ignition coils, spark plugs, struts, and a few other items. The importance of a reliable mechanic can not be made enough. The dealership's work - all of it ever made - had to be redone. No kidding. After I started going to an honest mechanic, someone who told me about certain gas stations, rather than replacing something that didn't need fixing, life was better.
The ride is still firm, yet comfortable, and no other car has the space in the back. The leather is still intact and the AC is chill'in. Could use a little more HP.
Floor mats move on me a bit because a car wash attendant tried taking one out without unsnapping it.
Just came back from a 2,400 mi trip (Ontario to NC and back). The car is absolutely fantastic: excellent performance in heavy traffic and on highway, low fuel consumption (average 33.11mpg with AC on, 65-70MPH) and very comfortable seats. Great torque @ 2000rpm, very stable/quiet car. I only miss the 6-speed manual transmission. This car will serve you well if the driving habits are reasonable and maintenance is properly done (5W40 syn oil every 5,000mi, good oil and air filters). Yes, some repairs are expensive at the dealer but if you find a good repair shop you'll see a huge drop in ownership costs.
Turbo, handling, acceleration on highways, brakes, Monsoon cd/tape, radio + cruise controls on the steering wheel, excellent interior materials.
This is my second Passat; bought it used in 2006. It is a joy to drive, and is one of the few 5-speed wagons available in this class. Both Passats had reliability problems ('98: cam followers bad at 120k; window regulator at 60K) ('03: turbo out at 70K, water leaks from roof drains). But in spite of these and many other problems, I bought a second one because it is so much fun to drive and looks great. I will put up with the costs because I love it.
Monsoon radio, roomy interior in wagon, computer readouts (especially MPG), availability of 5-speed, good looks. MPG at 34-39 avg. on highway at 60 mph. Amazing.
Improve quality and reliability. When the doors are unlocked, the cargo hatch still has to be unlocked separately (a real hassle). Put electronic stability control on all models.