Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat

Style:
1998 Volkswagen Passat
List price range

Pros

  • Tight structure. Fun-to-drive. Comfortable seats. Nice sound system. Artful design. An Audi at Volkswagen prices. Smooth V6 engine.

Cons

  • Squat and dive when accelerating and braking is excessive.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The Passat 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, the plain-vanilla styling of the original car didn't let the Passat stand out for much recognition other than the lack of a grille on the nose.

Volkswagen has managed to increase brand awareness, quality and sales during the past few years. As a result, the first-generation Passat received a good bit of attention from consumers during its final months of availability. But it was getting stale quickly, so Volkswagen has released a brand new one this year for Americans to ponder.

A runaway success in Europe, the new Passat deserves acclaim. Based on a stretched Audi A4 platform and using plenty of Audi parts in its construction, the new Passat looks, feels, smells and drives like a more substantial car than its price tag would lead you to expect.

Three models are available, available in sedan bodywork. The base GLS, which costs little more than a well-equipped Chevy Lumina, is powered by a zippy 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. We drove a couple not long ago, and the car zoomed to 60 mph quickly when mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Some turbo lag was evident at low rpm, but otherwise, the engine was perfectly capable of hauling around 3,100 pounds of Passat. Equipped with a Tiptronic automanual transmission, however, the Passat GLS lacked verve around town.

The GLS trim level is also available with a 2.8-liter V6 making 190 horsepower. To get the V6, buyers will pay a stiff $2,500 tariff. Opt for a full-boat GLX and you're buying the top-of-the-line Passat with all the trimmings, at about the same cost as a well-equipped Toyota Camry XLE V6. Options on the GLX are limited to a five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shifting technology and metallic paint. Hard to go wrong here.

Contemporary styling will wear well into the new century. In fact, we find the Passat's design more pleasing than the similarly sized but more expensive and somewhat avant-garde Audi A6. Our test Passats drove nicely, were solidly constructed and had great sound systems. The suspension rolled too much in turns, but otherwise, the car was perfectly suited to both canyon running and grocery shopping with the kids.

Volkswagen wants to double Passat sales in the United States with this new model. After a week with the GLS five-speed, we doubt they'll have trouble. In fact, a GLS wagon with a sunroof, the all-weather package and an attractive set of aftermarket alloy wheels would be our pick of the litter. So equipped, it would cost about the same as a Ford Taurus SE wagon, but with better looks and that coveted German handling.

They want drivers? This new Passat will bring hordes of them in.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Volkswagen Passat.

98 Passat --nice while it lasted
pdhorn, 2/20/2009
Car still drives and handles well but costly electrical problems have developed, forcing me to donate it on the market after 142,000 miles. Sunroof and door locks mysteriously stopped working--costly to repair.
German Engineering = Crap!
CapitalismGoneWild, 6/13/2009
Purchased a 1998 1.8T passat with a blown engine for $1000 and I rebuilt the engine over the summer. There is a lot of chatter about oil sludge destroying these engines, this is completely false! Oil comes through a metal tube around the back of the engine over the catalytic converter, exhaust manifold and through the turbo charger. Non-synthetic oil cokes (forms hard particles called turbo-turds)inside all of these components. Eventually enough of this coked oil breaks free, clogs the oil sump screen and oil starvation occurs. This is what causes the vast majority of 1.8T engines to fail. Either VW engineers are complete idiots or this is an engine designed to fail.
This Passat treated me well
boyce, 7/1/2008
My next car will be a plug in, but in the meanwhile I have few complaints about my manual 98 Passat, or the dealership. Bought new, used only in CA, and still a pleasure to drive. Mileage 25-27 mpg. Things do occasionally go wrong, but mostly they are under warranty. I added up my unexpected repairs over the past 10 years, and found they came to less than $5,000, or $500 per year. New alternator, 2 new batteries, new brakes, a gasket or two, minor suspension repairs, etc., but none of the spine-chilling disasters you can read about elsewhere on this blog. I'm lucky! I plan to keep it until that new plug-in (or 60 mpg diesel) shows up at the dealer. (My other car is a 2004 Prius).
After All, a Nice Car
bogdancea1, 12/4/2006
I bought mine used with 84,000 miles on it. It now is 115,000 miles. It has been a fun to drive experience. Its handling and brakes are excellent. The engine is strong and the transmission's fine. It will be a dream car, but has electronic flaws. It seems that the computer is haunted. The check engine light is annoying. It took three visits to fix it, and still no result. After three weeks, it went off by itself. Now it is coming on just from time to time, for no more than five minutes. The sunroof contact bad. Cruise control dead. The only big problem was one with the power engine module which cost $600 to fix. But the way this car handles the curves is impressive. The turbo lag is not very bad if you know how to deal with. Now the CV joints are bad, but is not car's fault. I like to press gas pedal too much in the curves. I'll buy another one in a heartbeat.
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Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
150 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
190 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
190 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • 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
    Good

More about the 1998 Volkswagen Passat
Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Overview

The Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat is offered in the following submodels: , . Available styles include GLS 1.8T Turbo 4dr Sedan, GLS V6 4dr Sedan, GLS 1.8T Turbo 4dr Wagon, and GLX V6 4dr Sedan.

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