Now > 4 years into ownership and at 108,000 miles, I thought I'd update my review. I still like this car a lot. It remains reasonably reliable with only fair fuel economy ( although I've been getting 24-25 MPG on the highway lately). Cost of maintenance has been relatively high, but I do drive a lot, so I feel it has been quite acceptable. Engine (V6) is running smooth and not burning oil. I'm thinking of driving it until 200K or until the cost of repairs gets too high (I've done the TB and WP at 85K). I'm still overall satisfied with the car and service I've been getting. I've had two electrical problems. Fuel pump died at 60K (recall) and driver's seat heater died (expensive, but needed fix).
Comfort, handling, ride, space, versatility, Bauhaus looks, solid feel. I still enjoy getting in and driving my "Gray Ghost" every morning (I guess that really says something).
Better rear rotors. My fronts are the original rotors, yet I've replaced the rears 4 or 5 times. I know this has a rear brake bias to prevent nosedive, but perhaps VW should have given it larger rear brakes.
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.
I bought this car used and have since put over 50,000 miles on it without hardly having to put in any maintenance costs. It is really a great car - drives well, is comfortable, gets decent to good gas mileage and holds its value.
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.
This car is exceptionally fun to drive, considering its engine is only 1.8 liters. It is fast and averages an all around 26 mpg. Mine has a 5-speed standard transmission. This is a premium automobile at a big discount!
I love the seats and their manual ajustments.
Its roof rails have a bad design. They run the length of the roof along each side and come out during normal driving.