We bought our 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T wagon with a little over 70k miles on it, which I guess is high mileage for a VW. If you're a real enthusiast or VERY handy with a wrench, then by all means get one of these. Otherwise, be advised to stay the hell away from these pieces of cr*p. Every year is thousands of $$$ to keep it on the road. The car has a complicated and involved service procedure, so anything under the hood will be expensive to replace. Two shops quoted me $500 just for the valve cover gasket, and most of that was labor. German engineering = myth.
Performance is awesome for a wagon, even with the little 1.8T. Turbo is laggy, but once it kicks in, you're off. Heated seats are nice. Interior and exterior styling hold up well, even 10 years later.
Make it so that routine service procedures don't require the entire front fascia to be removed (Google "service position"). Make it so that coolant can stay in the cooling system longer than one month without service. Make it so it doesn't require the MOST EXPENSIVE oil, gas and coolant. Or, skip all that, and just make an auto-self destruct feature that warns the buyer that the car will destroy itself at 80k miles...that's pretty much what happens anyway.
I bought new, now have over 230,000 miles. This is a fun car to drive, especially with the manual. Have not had any major mechanical issues. The paint and interior have held up very well. Only annoyance is that the headlights burn out more often than most, but are easy to replace. Keeping up with preventive maintenance and fixing small problems quickly are essential though! Parts are expensive, and I agree with other reviewers that dealer service departments are terrible- I found a great VW mechanic locally.
Steering and suspension, build quality, transmission, leather seats, fuel economy.
More power- the stock 1.8T is a little weak. I upgraded with a power chip that adds 20 hp or so and quite a bit of torque- definitely was worthwhile to me.
I've had my Passat for two years now, and besides regular maintenance and a few repairs I could do myself (Aged plastic hoses, etc.) which ANY car would need replaced at 120,000 miles, it has been an excellent purchase! There are a lot of reviews on here saying the Passat is junk, but if you can't properly inspect a car to see if it has been maintained like any car should before you buy it, you're a moron, and have no right to slander a perfectly good car. After initial purchase with 110,000 miles, I changed the water pump and timing belt myself. Yes, I had to take off the front bumper. Boo Hoo! This is one of the EASIEST cars I've ever owned to work on. I've had an RX-7, Impreza, Accord.
Turbocharger. I hate automatics, and promised myself I'd never buy one, but I like the Tiptronic. However, my next Passat or Jetta will be a manual transmission, and probably a TDI. They have ridiculous torque and superb MPG.
I wish it came in a manual, turbo, all-wheel drive model that was easy to find for the same price.
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
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.
I loved the look and feel of the car , from the timeless grey exterior to the leather appointed heated seats. Pickup was a dream powered with a 1.8t engine, always first off the stop line. Once going it handled just like you'd expect a German sports car would. The car aged very well as far as looks, still very modern inside and out. The interior was comfortable with higher end finishes and easy to use controls. I previously owned an 02 Passat (not much difference) and was involved in a bad T-bone accident with a Dodge Ram and while the Ram driver was injured I walked away without a scratch. My side curtain airbag deployed keeping me and my passengers safe. Very thankful for such a safe car.
My only complaint about the car was the reliability, very expensive to keep on the road. I'm all for preventative maintenance but it's hard to stay on top of it when your spending all your money on hidden problems. CV boots are always on the list for replacing, as well as tie rods. 3.5 years owning this car and 6k in maintenance. Fun to drive when working but that's about it.....