Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat

1997 Volkswagen Passat
List price range
1997 Volkswagen Passat


  • Huge interior with lots of leg room, superb seats, excellent road manners


  • 2.8-liter V-6 responds sluggishly when harnessed to automatic transmission
Volkswagen Passat years

Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat for Sale

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The Passat has never sold well in the United States. Weak original engine choices, ineffective early marketing efforts, and a muddled brand identity that defeated sales across the board have all contributed to this car's seemingly invisible presence in the market. Of course, its plain-vanilla styling didn't let the Passat stand out for much recognition other than the lack of a grille on the nose.

Volkswagen managed to increase brand awareness and sales lately, and the Passat has received a good bit of attention during the past few years. The 2.8-liter V6 that has literally transformed Volkswagen's lineup from staid German sedans to road cars brimming with vitality was transplanted into the Passat four years ago. A couple years later, a revised exterior design gave this Volkswagen more character, and included a grille for the first time. Passats came fully loaded in one trim level for 1995; the only options were an automatic transmission, a sunroof and a CD player. Antilock brakes and traction control were standard equipment. With a singular GLX trim level, fresh styling, and renewed performance ability, Volkswagen focused the Passat's mission, and became the focus of people who appreciate quick, well-equipped German cars. Priced in the low 20's, and equipped with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, the Passat GLX was a real bargain.

Marketers fiddled with the Passat recipe again last year, and we feared that the focus placed on the excellent GLX would become blurred with the arrival of newcomers. The bare-bones entry-level Passat GLS debuted with the meager 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from the Golf. At $18,000, the GLS was no match for the Ford Contour SE, which offers the same tight European driving manners and a whole lot more speed for the same price. Even Volkswagen's own Jetta GLS made better sense.

Later in 1996, a TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) diesel model arrived. Volkswagen said it was one quick, clean and quiet diesel. Still, the hit-and-miss availability of diesel fuel and relatively low prices for gasoline in the United States made us wonder why VW thinks North America needs a diesel Passat.

Evidently, the GLS idea didn't fly. It's gone for 1997. The TDI is still scarce, thanks to quality problems, and may not survive much longer in the U.S. market. This means buyers really have just one readily available choice when buying a Passat.

Fine and dandy, Jack. The GLX is still the one and only Passat to consider, in our opinion. It continues to offer an excellent blend of value, performance and exclusivity, in either sedan or wagon format. So what do you think a fully-loaded German sport sedan (or wagon) might cost? The base price of a new Passat GLX is roughly equivalent to the price of a well-equipped Taurus GL. Surprise, surprise. We think you ought to try the Passat GLX whether or not performance is important to you. It's a good car at a fair price, with the ability to put a grin on your face every time you drive it.

1997 Highlights

GLS model vanishes from radar as Volkswagen prepares for launch of all-new Passat in mid-1997.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Volkswagen Passat.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Update to Hope it lasts forever!
Well, we're headed towards 2011, and my trusty Passat now has 138,000 miles. This car STILL drives like the day I bought it over ten years and 100,000 miles ago. I'm bored and want something newer, as the plastic trim pieces are falling off and the door handles / window regulators continue to be flaky. However, from an economic AND enjoyment standpoint, I simply cannot beat this car.
Hope It Lasts Forever!
I have owned nothing but VW's. They all have been reliable and great to drive. In 2000 we needed a bigger car as we were expecting our first child. We drove the new Jetta, and but it seemed small and sort of cheap. Then we saw the beautiful Indigo Passat GLX. It is a big, roomy sedan which drives and handles like a dream. The VR6 engine is the best thing VW has ever designed. The check engine or ABS lights have NEVER been on in this car. I bought it with 38,000 miles on it, now it has 96,000 miles and drives like the day I took it home. The first owner probably neglected a few things. It needed brakes, rotors, battery, etc. that first year, but the dealer covered everything. Find a good mechanic, do your maintenance, and this car will last!
German for "Piece of Junk"
This car was really nice for about the first 3 years that we owned it. Ever since that point, it has had many nagging, expensive, and repetitive failures. (Among those too numerous to mention - Door Handles, Controller, O2 Sensors, Belt-tensioner) The Yellow light has been on more than it has been "off". Were it not for the fact that I was unemployed on & off for most of the past 4 years, we would have "dumped" it on some other poor sap. Have talked to several other GLX owners - most had same problems. Their highly-touted "German Engineers" should all be fired, and replaced by the guys from GM. (I've never had to replace all 4 door handles on a Buick twice!)
still runs, but i"m mechanical
Bought used for cheap, needed clutch, bad A/C. The clutch was 600.00 from the clutch guy I know. Heater core went out at 120k this is typical i guess. Here's what I did: disconnected heater core, ran heater hoses to A/C heat exchanger, (A/C bad anyway...) Now heats ok. Needed water pump at 130k. Runs strong, handles great for big car. Nice leather interior. Huge inside area. Easy to work on compact vr6. Have done all work myself except clutch.
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Features & Specs

32 city / 42 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
17 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
172 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Volkswagen Passat
Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat Overview

The Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat is offered in the following submodels: Passat Sedan, Passat Wagon, Passat Diesel. Available styles include TDi 4dr Wagon, TDi 4dr Sedan, GLX V6 4dr Sedan, and GLX V6 4dr Wagon.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Volkswagen Passat?

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Which used 1997 Volkswagen Passats are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Volkswagen Passats you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Passat for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $14,986.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 12 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $22,752.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Passat for sale - 3 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $8,350.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 1 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $23,337.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Volkswagen Passat?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Passat lease specials