Used 2000 Volkswagen Passat Review

This is our favorite midsize sedan and wagon. Don't make your family vehicle choice without driving one.

what's new

The radio display and anti-theft system have been updated. A brake-wear indicator is now standard on all models.

vehicle overview

Volkswagen has been busy in recent years. In between buying up smaller carmakers, designing 12- and 16-cylinder engines, and creating a new line of luxury vehicles, the company has had time to tweak its already excellent Passat sedan and wagon offerings.

The base Passat engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 150 horsepower and an almost lag-free 155 ft-lbs. of torque. While not a race engine, this powerplant offers adequate acceleration and contributes more to the Passat's overall grin factor than one might think, especially when mated to the company's excellent five-speed manual transmission.

Stepping up to the 2.8-liter V6 will net you an additional 40 horsepower and 52 more ft-lbs. of torque. The V6 comes standard on Passat GLX models and puts the "fun" back in functional with its broad torque band and responsive acceleration. Volkswagen's optional five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is also availble on the GLX.

Regardless of drivetrain choice, all Passats come with superb steering, handling and braking characteristics. With ABS four-wheel discs standard on all trim levels, an independent front and rear suspension, and perfectly weighted power rack-and-pinion steering, the Passat is one of the most entertaining sedans (or wagons) in the midsize class. Some drivers note a bit too much body roll during canyon runs, but the pay off comes in its excellent overall ride quality.

In addition to its mechanical pedigree, the Passat offers up an impressive list of standard features. Items like air conditioning, cruise control, one-touch power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, a remote trunk release, a full-size conventional spare, side airbags and heated exterior mirrors are included on the base GLS models. GLX trim adds the aforementioned V6 engine, sunroof, heated front seats with driver's seat memory, leather seat coverings and door inserts, variable intermittent wipers with heated jets and an auto-dimming day-night mirror.

A runaway success in Europe, the current Passat is making headway here in North America against heavy-hitters like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus. Based on a stretched Audi A4 platform and using plenty of Audi parts in its construction, the Passat looks, feels, smells and drives like a more substantial car than its price tag would lead you to expect. Its contemporary styling will wear well into the new century and its solid construction should keep the car feeling new as the miles add up.

With Volkswagen expanding into the luxury-sedan, SUV, and exotic sports-car markets over the next few years, they're going to need a solid bread-and-butter model to pay all the upcoming development and marketing bills. We expect the Passat to fill this role and help keep the company afloat during its transitional period. Before rushing out to buy that new Accord, Camry or Taurus, you'd do well to at least test drive a Passat.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.