Still going strong at 80K and 8 years. Recent issue with front motor mounts replaced (leaking) and valve cover gasket. But all-in-all it has been a reliable car. See other reviews (7 year, 6 year , etc..) for more info.
Having been w/ my parents when they bought this new, I have watched my dad and myself change the oil every 5000 miles, and will say you MUST use synthetic, i use castrol synthetic, and I have never had the majority of problems these people speak of, after coming from an old s-10 and porsche 944 the lights shine bright for me, and I have never had oil sludge. I replaced the timing belt, but that was preventive maintenance, and the fuel system has never given me a problem. I did have to replace the idle regulator, but it's whatever. This car has been great for my parents, and now me, it has taken numerous cross country trips, and never given us a problem. I would highly recommend a VW.
This is my second Passat wagon - I'm trying to sell it. I have no idea why I decided to subject myself to another used VW after my experience with the first one. Don't get me wrong - new/nearly new (3-4 years old) VWs are great cars; they're reliable, luxurious..etc. But after they hit the 5 year mark, they go to hell. I heard a saying once that a check engine light is a beacon to let you know you're driving a VW, and that certainly rings true. It's always on and always very expensive to fix. The car does feel very solid and is good in the snow. The engine is slow to accelerate and gets mediocre gas mileage.
I love driving this car: it is so refined -- beautiful interior, wonderful road manners, responsive performance. Headlights stink, otherwise it's a joy to drive. But... I hate owning this car: despite putting extremely low mileage on the car and performing all scheduled maintenance on the dot, I've had and endless parade of extremely expensive problems. Engine leaking oil in FOUR places (three of them directly onto the catalytic converter, for maximum fire hazard), clogged heater core (no heat), transmission leak & slippage, all three ignition coils failed, brake booster failed. Build quality is vault-like, but component engineering is criminally poor.
I didn't review this site before purchasing my 2002 1.8t Passat Wagon (really sorry I didn't because this review will sound like many of the others).The car does look sweet,turbo was pretty awesome,& the car is stacked w/ features (sunroof, pw, pl, tiptronic, cruise, lots of space). We purchased the car with under 80000 miles. Less than 1 month into owning it the a/c compressor/clutch quit, the glove box handle fell off, a bracket under car came off, the heat quit working, the tiptronic would not switch from manual to automatic, instrument panel was 50% dim, transmission started to make a grinding noise when decelerating, 2 vent slats for the a/c fell out & paint started to peel frm inside