I bought new, now have over 230,000 miles. This is a fun car to drive, especially with the manual. Have not had any major mechanical issues. The paint and interior have held up very well. Only annoyance is that the headlights burn out more often than most, but are easy to replace. Keeping up with preventive maintenance and fixing small problems quickly are essential though! Parts are expensive, and I agree with other reviewers that dealer service departments are terrible- I found a great VW mechanic locally.
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.
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.
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.
Purchased the vehicle with approx 80k miles. Loaded, flagship model in the lineup, everything electric/mechanical still works fine. This car is a tank -- very heavy, very "safe" feeling. V6 feels underpowered. Should've bought the V8. However, 4motion has saved my life twice. No hesitance to load my family (with newborn) into car.