Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Wagon

1998 Volkswagen Passat
List price range
1998 Volkswagen Passat


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


  • 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.

1998 Highlights

An all-new Passat arrives wearing updated sheet metal over a stretched Audi A4 platform. Engine choices include a spunky turbocharged four or a silky V6.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Volkswagen Passat.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

still solid after all these years
4 cyl turbo sedan, on its 11th year, aging beautifully in ca weather. Reasonably reliable, zippy, good looking, great build quality, 24 mpg. What"s not to like? and paid for for the last 5 years.
Good If You Don't Keep It
My wife and I bought this car in 1998 b/c we wanted a safe vehicle for our first child. Fast forward to May 24, 2007. It now has 96,000 miles on it. It is on its 2nd factory radio, 2nd set of door locks (all replaced after 3 years). Both back doors were just partly rewired. The ignition system cost me $900 last year and now the turbo is dead ! Its $1710 total replacement cost is covered under the 10/100 warranty. Lucky! Overall, I don't recommend the car. Unless I have $20K to throw away every 2 years on a fresh Audi or VW, I won't ever buy one again.
Never Buy This Car
The most unreliable, expensive, money-hole of a car I've ever owned. This car, with care and repair, only lasted 145,000 miles. It was a Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle, and it was a rip off. And to add insult to injury, the Volkswagen folks are really rude.
What a Great Car
David link,03/12/2007
I purchased the car new as one of the first VW Wagons to arrive in the US in 1998. The 4-cylinder turbo engine has been a dream. It has great responsiveness, just enough power with an average of 26 miles per gallon in the Washington, DC metro area highways. Overall my ownership experience has been a total pleasure. The car has never let me down and I especially admire how well the interior has held up over the past eight years. The mechanical condition of the car has been excellent and the motor and other subsystems have never experienced any problems. The paint has not faded and the tires have rarely been out of balance, even with the potholes in D.C. area roads. This is a great car!
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Features & Specs

20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
150 hp @ 5700 rpm
See all Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Wagon features & specs


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

More about the 1998 Volkswagen Passat
Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Wagon Overview

The Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Wagon is offered in the following styles: GLS 1.8T Turbo 4dr Wagon.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Wagon?

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Can't find a used 1998 Volkswagen Passat Passat Wagon you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Passat for sale - 8 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $17,512.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 5 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,341.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Passat for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $16,503.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 1 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $7,914.

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 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