2003 Volkswagen Passat Review
2003 Volkswagen Passat Review
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Used Passat for sale
|List Price Estimate:||$2,991 - $4,647|
Volkswagen Passat model years
Volkswagen Passat types
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Fun to drive, excellent value in GL or GLS trim, roomy interior with upscale feel, outstanding build and materials quality, available all-wheel drive.
- Expensive upper-level models, can't get AWD on GLS, less rear-seat room than Camry or Altima, some confusing interior controls.
For 2003, a base GL sedan and wagon are available. Think of the GL as a GLS 1.8T for buyers who don't require any extras like alloy wheels, leather upholstery, seat heaters or a sunroof. Meanwhile, alloy wheels and sunroof are now standard on GLS models. The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system will not be offered on GLS V6 models, forcing interested buyers to cross the 30-grand line; however, VW has made stability control (ESP) optional on all Passats (except the W8, which has this standard). Also this year, you'll be able to get W8 sedans and wagons with a six-speed manual transmission and a sport package that includes a firmer suspension and the requisite 17-inch wheels. Lastly, the standard stereo head unit gets backlighting for the buttons.
This is our favorite midsize car -- in both sedan and wagon form. Don't make your vehicle choice without driving one.
2003 Passat Highlights
- Combined MPG
- 23 MPG
- Cost to Drive
- 5 seats
- front wheel drive
- Engine Type
- 4 years / 50,000 miles
Introduction: Ever since the mid-1997 incarnation of the current generation -- followed by significant updates in mid-2001 -- the Volkswagen Passat has proven to be our favorite midsize family car. Apparently consumers agree with our assessment. Sales of Passats have increased more than six-fold since 1997. The car appeals to those who seek something a little different from the mainstream and are willing to pay a little more for the Passat's style and European engineering.
Last year, we saw the first production application of VW's "W" family of engines, as the long-awaited Passat W8 sedan and wagon arrived in the U.S., replete with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. With an MSRP around $38K, the entry-luxury W8 is out of reach for the typical family car buyer, but look at it this way: Where else can you find a German car with eight cylinders for this price? Still, there are many good six-cylinder competitors in this price bracket, so it's a good idea to shop around.
The Passat family is now spread out across the 20 to 40K price range; whether you seek a cloth-lined sedan with a manual transmission or a leather-lined wagon with all-wheel drive, you'll be getting an entertaining midsize car with comfortable, upscale cabin accommodations, a lengthy list of safety features and tight construction.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: VW offers the Passat sedan and wagon in four trim levels -- GL, GLS, GLX and W8. The GL comes with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, cruise control, side and head curtain airbags, a driver-seat height adjuster, a CD player, power windows and locks, keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels, a fullsize spare and power heated mirrors. Options include stability control (ESP) with brake assist, a premium sound system and a dealer-installed CD changer.
The GLS adds a sunroof and alloy wheels; it has the options available as the GL does, as well as seat heaters and leather upholstery. All of the above are standard on the GLX, except for ESP and the CD changer, which remain optional. Additionally, GLX models come with power seats, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and 16-inch wheels. Note that GLX models are available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (4Motion). If you spring for the W8, 4Motion and ESP come standard, as do vented disc brakes all around, xenon headlamps and an upgraded trip computer. A sport package (a firmer suspension and 17-inch wheels) is optional on the W8 only.
Powertrains and Performance: Of the three engine choices, our favorite is the 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four that delivers 170 horsepower. It's standard on the GL and is one of two choices for the GLS. The other choice is a 190-hp 2.8-liter V6. While no longer among the fastest six-cylinders in the midsize class, this V6 is buttery smooth; it's standard on the GLX. Both engines come with either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. Available on GLX models with automatic transmissions is the 4Motion AWD system. Under normal traction conditions, the system splits power 50/50 between the front and rear; it can redistribute power up to a 67/33 ratio either way to combat slippage. The W8 sedan and wagon are powered by a compact 4.0-liter eight-cylinder engine (called "W8" because of its staggered cylinders) that develops 270 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. 4Motion is standard, and, for 2003, both the automatic and a six-speed manual will be offered.
Safety: The Passat earned five stars for both of NHTSA's frontal impact crash tests and four stars in the side-impact categories. The IIHS gave it a "good" rating for the offset crash test. All models come with front side airbags and head curtain airbags for the front and rear. Stability control is standard on the W8 and optional on other models. Interior Design and Special Features: Even at the GL trim level, the Passat's cabin is comfortable and upscale in feel. Wagons provide 39 cubic feet of luggage space; fold down the 60/40 rear seat and you'll have 56.5 cubic feet (54.6 for 4Motion models). Driving Impressions: With a well-balanced suspension and perfectly weighted steering, the Passat is one of the most entertaining midsize cars around. Some drivers might find body roll a bit excessive around turns, but the trade-off for excellent ride quality is worthwhile.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
Love and Hate Relationship
2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)
I loved my Passat, but hated when it went in for service. I work at a VW dealer so I'm thankful for an employee discount otherwise I'd had to get rid of this car long ago. It didn't matter if it came down to something as little as an oil change there was always something wrong. I owned my car 3.5 years and through 4 PA state inspections and it didn't pass any of them on the first try. I … bought the car with 70k and trading it in on Tuesday with 115k on the odometer. Currently no check engine light, but to pass emissions it needs an O2 sensor and possible vacuum pump. After 3.5 years and almost 6k spent on service I've had enough. I loved the look and feel of the car just not the upkeep.
2.13 out of 5 stars
OIL SLUDGE AT 120K! READ THE FORUMS
2003 Volkswagen Passat GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)
Sure I took a risk buying this car used at 119,500 miles, but all the reviews online were pretty good for this car. 400 miles later I started having oil pressure lights and engine lights come on and when I googled the symptoms, I got all kinds of bad news about the car. Oil sludge is a problem and if it's not fixed fast, the engine will need replacing. I'm not even sure if there really … is a fix for this problem. If you have this car, get it checked right away. These reviews make it look like a good car, but be careful and read the forums to see what will really happen if you purchase/own this car. 2002 also has this problem
4.25 out of 5 stars
Good Solid Car
2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A)
I brought my passat in 2003 new. We are know in 2010 and I have not had any problems that I am surprised about. I drive my car on a daily basis. I currently have 97,500 miles on my car, and plan on changing the timing belt at 105,000 to drive the car another 100,000 miles. I plan on replacing the shocks and springs with Eibach brands and I plan on finding some factory 17 inch vw … wheels to place on my car. I don't plan on buying a car anytime soon. This car has treated me very well.
5 out of 5 stars
Wonderful solid agile
2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX 4Motion AWD 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A)
I bought mine sight unseen at auction. The battery was 100% dead, tires all 100% flat and radiator bone dry. I charged it up, aired the tires (patched 1 leak) and filled the radiator. This is an amazing car. Rides like a BMW M3 and hugs the road (even loose gravel, or snow covered roads) like an Audi A8. When you think the gas pedal is pushed all the way, push a little harder and the car … goes into "shift down" mode and that's when the power kicks in.
More about the 2003 Volkswagen Passat
Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat Overview
The Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat is offered in the following submodels: Passat Sedan, Passat Wagon. Available styles include GLS 1.8T Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A), GLX Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A), GLS 1.8T 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A), GLX 4Motion AWD 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A), GLX Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5M), GLS 1.8T Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), GL Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A), GLX Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.8L 6cyl 5A), GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A), GLX 4Motion AWD 4dr Wagon (2.8L 6cyl 5A), GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A), GLX Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.8L 6cyl 5M), W8 4Motion AWD 4dr Sedan (4.0L 8cyl 5A), GLS 1.8T Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), GL Fwd 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5M), GL Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.8L 6cyl 5A), W8 4Motion AWD 4dr Wagon (4.0L 8cyl 5A), W8 4Motion AWD 4dr Sedan (4.0L 8cyl 6M), W8 4Motion AWD 4dr Wagon (4.0L 8cyl 6M), and GLS V6 Fwd 4dr Wagon (2.8L 6cyl 5M). Pre-owned Volkswagen Passat models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine or a 2.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 190 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat?
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Which used 2003 Volkswagen Passats are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Volkswagen Passat for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2003 Passats listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,991 and mileage as low as 71199 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Volkswagen Passat.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 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
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