It's official, and, frankly, it's getting to be a little repetitive. Ever since the mid-1997 incarnation of the current generation, the Volkswagen Passat has time and time again proven to be our favorite midsize family sedan. Not only has it won the top prize in our 2000 Family Sedan Test and 2002 Premium Family Sedan Test, it's been our pick for the Editors' Most Wanted list, in which we vote for the cars that would grace our own garages, for three years running.
Apparently consumers agree with our assessment. Sales of Passats have bourgeoned more than six-fold since 1997. The car has appealed to those who seek something a little different from the mainstream, who are willing to pay a little more for style and European engineering over more ubiquitous domestic or Japanese sedans.
VeeDub consumers have also been historically younger than the average car buyer. In an effort to keep its loyal customers even after they've risen to the next income tax bracket, VW has cranked up the volume on its current flagship by adding an eight-cylinder engine. This will also pave the route for a future top-of-the-line luxury sedan, the Phaeton, as well as a premium SUV, the Touareg. Volkswagen might be the people's car, but the lineup is increasingly becoming for the well-off.
As the Passat's compact engine bay is unable to house a traditional V8, Volkswagen engineered a new W8. "W" refers to Volkswagen's new family of engines. The basic layout of the W8 is two narrow-angle four-valve V4 engines that share a common crankshaft and are configured at an angle of 72 degrees apart from each other. This layout could be described as a V-V arrangement, or a W. Displacing 4.0 liters and producing 270 ponies and 273 pound-feet of torque, the W8 is able to move the sedan from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. This puts the Passat in a category normally reserved for very fast entry-level sport sedans, such as the Acura TL Type-S and Infiniti G35.
The W8 is also as smooth as Ricardo Montalban is with the ladies thanks to engineering advancements. Get on the gas, and the W8 emits a refined exhaust note and loads of low-end thrust, the latter of which is lacking in 1.8T and V6 Passat engines. Mated to the W8 is a five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic; coming for the 2003 model year is a close-geared six-speed manual to appeal to driving enthusiasts.
The structural reinforcements that VW engineers dialed into the 2001.5 redesign carry over into the W8. While the ride is certainly more biased toward street comfort than sporting aspirations, the Passat is a willing family sedan (and wagon) to frolic on a serpentine canyon road and can almost keep up with any of its German counterparts. There's a little more body movement when you sling it into a corner than your typical sport sedan has, but it's a tradeoff that pays dividends when you're comfortably cruising in town. Coming later in the year is a sport suspension package with 17-inch wheels, which should complement the Passat's already adept chassis.
Other bonuses that come with the W8 include the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system that distributes power equally to the front and rear axles at all times, a necessity since most front-wheel-drive cars would get jiggy with torque steer if they had 270 horses to rein in. Further, an electronic stability control system makes its way into the second VeeDub passenger car (the New Beetle Turbo S was the first); although, we have no doubt that this useful safety technology will trickle its way down across the line. Darkness is banished via bi-xenon self-adjusting headlamps complete with their own washers.
The only outwardly signs that there are eight cylinders under the hood are badging and dual exhausts neatly tucked on either side of the rear fender. Not so readily visible are rear disc brakes that are vented; non-W8s have solid rear plates. Inside, you'll find the high-quality soft-touch materials that we always rave about; of course, these can be found in base-level Passats as well. Like the GLX trim, the W8 comes with leather trim, lovely wood accents, heated and power front seats, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, automatic climate control, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and a tilt-down passenger-side mirror that facilitates parallel parking. As of yet, there are no plans to install a navigation system but some European versions already house this feature, so we wouldn't be surprised if it becomes an option in the not-too-distant future.
Of course, in this class such little omissions as rear windows that aren't one-touch up-and-down and an outmoded six-disc CD changer that's not only optional but also trunk-mounted are all the more glaring. (If VW wants to play with the big boys, we're going to hold it under the same scrutiny.) Volkswagen states that the Passat is the only family sedan with an eight-cylinder engine. However, we consider $30,000 to be the dividing line between a regular family sedan and an entry-level luxury vehicle. At $37,900 for the sedan and $38,700 for the wagon, the Passat treads on the toes of some pretty spectacular cars.
The Passat starts at $21,000, and that includes such premium features as tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel, side-curtain airbags, height-adjustable headrests for all three rear positions and rear seat vents. It makes perfect sense at this price, but perceived value suffers when the same car lists at almost twice the price. When you pit the Passat against its luxury-laden competition, its luster becomes somewhat dulled. Not many of them have eight-cylinder engines, but many of them don't need one. The Passat's interior also seems rather ordinary when compared to cars such as the Lexus ES 300 or Audi A6.
But hey, this is America, and the U.S. of A. is all about choices. Volkswagen is simply offering one, with humble aspirations of selling 5,000 per annum. It reminds us of the phenomenon in which a frog will freak out if plunged into a pot of boiling water; however, if it's placed in cold water in which the temperature is gradually raised, it won't notice until it's happily in Kermit heaven. And before you know it, you'll be gladly shelling out $100,000 for a VW sports car. Hey, gotta keep it in the family, you know.
2002 Volkswagen Passat Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2002 Volkswagen Passat and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2002 Passat featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our 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.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2002 Volkswagen Passat and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2002 Passat 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2002 Passat.
Review I got my black Passat when I was a sophomore in high school. The thing I love most about VWs is the German prestige that comes with the car. Theres something about the way European cars carry themselves as they sail down the highway. I previously owned a 2000 VW Jetta that I absolutly loved. The Passat is technically a superior car, but I think I'll buy another Jetta in the future. If you are thinking of buying one with the turbocharged engine, you MUST MUST use fully synthetic oil and change it every 3 thousand miles.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Volkswagen Passat 2002 Submodel Types: Sedan, Diesel, Wagon
Available Trims: SE PZEV, S, S PZEV, SE, Wolfsburg Edition PZEV, SEL Premium, GLS 1.8T, SEL Premium PZEV, 2.0T, Komfort, SE w/Technology, TDI SE, TDI SEL Premium, V6 SEL Premium, GLX, GLX 4Motion, Limited Edition PZEV, SEL PZEV, Wolfsburg Edition, R-Line PZEV w/Comfort Package, R-Line, Sport PZEV, Value Edition, GLS V6, V6 SE, GLX V6, Lux, 3.6, 1.8T Sport PZEV, Base, Komfort PZEV, Limited Edition, Turbo, 2.0T Wolfsburg Edition, 3.6 4Motion, GL, SE PZEV w/Technology, SEL, GL TDI, GLX V6 4Motion, VR6 4Motion, GLS 1.8T 4Motion, GLS TDI, Sport, 1.8T Sport, GL 1.8T, GLS V6 4Motion, R-Line PZEV, R-Line w/Comfort Package, VR6, W8 4Motion
Exterior Colors: Platinum Grey Metallic, Reflex Silver Metallic, Black, Candy White, Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, Tungsten Silver Metallic, Reef Blue Metallic, Night Blue Metallic, Black Uni, Fortana Red, Opera Red Metallic, Titanium Beige, Deep Black, Reflex Silver, Glacier Blue Metallic, United Gray, Stonehenge Gray Metallic, Urano Gray Metallic, Blue Anthracite, Island Gray Metallic, Silverstone Gray Metallic, Blue Graphite, Candy White w/Black Roof, Shadow Blue, Black Magic Pearl, Deep Black Metallic, Fresco Green Metallic, Reflex Silver w/Black Roof, Satin Silver Metallic, Shadow Blue Metallic, Colorado Red Pearl, Granite Green, Northern Green Metallic, Satin Silver, Tungsten Silver Metallic/Black Roof, Black Magic, Bright Green Pearlcoat, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Blue Metallic, Colorado Red, Mocha Anthracite Metallic, Mocha Brown, Northern Green, Pine Green, Urano Gray, Blue Anthracite PL, Indigo Blue Pearl, Mojave Beige Metallic, Pacific Blue Pearl, Tornado Red, Wheat Beige, Wheat Beige Metallic, White Gold Metallic
Interior Colors: Titan Black leatherette, Titan Black cloth, Titan Black leather, Beige leatherette, Titan Black leather/sueded microfiber, Moonrock Gray cloth, Cornsilk Beige leatherette, Black leatherette, Moonrock leatherette, Black premium leather, Cornsilk Beige w/Brown Piping leatherette, Black, Cornsilk Beige leather, Gray, Moonrock Gray leatherette, Moonrock Gray w/Quartz Piping leatherette, Beige, Cornsilk Beige cloth, Moonrock Gray leather, Moonrock Gray/Titan Black leatherette, Pure Beige premium leather, Beige leather/sueded microfiber, Cornsilk Beige leather/sueded microfiber, Pure Beige leatherette, Beige leather, Classic Gray leatherette, Moonrock cloth, Classic Gray premium leather, Black leather, Cornsilk/Titan Black leatherette, Black/Gray leatherette, Beige/Black leatherette, Moonrock Gray leather/sueded microfiber, Moonrock leather/sueded microfiber, Anthracite, Moonrock leather
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Trip Computer, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Aux Audio Inputs, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Post-collision safety system, Bluetooth, Power Driver Seat, Heated seats, Back-up camera, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Auto Climate Control, Sunroof/Moonroof, Alarm, USB Inputs, Pre-collision safety system, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Remote Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Leather Seats, Upgraded Headlights, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Parking sensors, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, AWD/4WD, Upgraded Stereo