I have driven American cars my entire life, and almost bought another one after my accident in a 2006 Chevy Malibu. To the Chevy's credit, it was comfortable and had great gas mileage, but it was definitely not safe enough, and there were compromises in other areas. Some of which included build quality, performance, design, etc. After a lot of research about these car, and my son being a huge German car fan, I decided to test drive this car on the roads I'm accustomed to and in the way I drive. The performance is excellent, and the ride is very capable and tuned for comfort. After looking at about 15 different cars (foreign and domestic), this was definitely the best and safest car for the money. For years I have heard of so many horror stories about these cars, mostly about parts and reliability and things like that. I have had no trouble so far. This car does require some knowledge and willingness to learn, and simple maintenance is easy to do and is relatively cheap (like replacing a cabin air filter in a few minutes with a $12.00 aftermarket part). Only if you go to the dealer for absolutely everything will you see the money piling up. I would recommend doing simple things like that yourself. But really, no major problems whatsoever. Just as reliable as American cars. I was lucky to find this car, as it is a high trim car with the better engine and features. It was a one owner car, and was obviously well taken care of for the 67,000 original miles. My one big complaint about this car is the gas mileage which is about 20-24 in mixed driving. Although it says in the owners manual that you can run it on regular gas (not E85), I use the middle-grade one and my car runs perfectly. Otherwise, it's a great looking, comfortable, and fun car that I hope to enjoy for many miles to come.
I think a lot of people buy a VW are unaware that maintenance and adherence to manufacturer recommendations are KEY to keeping a VW on the road. I've owned my 2004 passast for 8 years and it still looks brand new after over 111K miles. A VW is not a honda where you put gas in it and change the oil every so often. you need to pay attention to using mid grade or higher fuel EVERY time. Synthetic oil, EVERY time. New Plugs every 40K per the manual, and on and on and on. YES there is a lot more in owning a VW than your run of the mill car but if you treat it right it will last for a long time. If you can handle a meticulous maintenance schedule then buy a VW but if you can't DO NOT BUY!!!!
I have put 15,000 miles on this car in the past year and have enjoyed every minute of it. This car is a 5-spd manual. I test drove the automatic but it tended to hesitate from a stop. The only problem I have had with this car is that I'm always driving too fast (I've never had a speeding ticket, I'm not a speeder). It just performs best and feels best if I push it. The combination of 4Motion and manual makes it sprint from a stop. I will never get another car without 4Motion; I can hardly stand the comparative lack of road grip in our FWD cars, dry or wet. Gas mileage has been 32mpg@55mph, 30@65. Performance suffered the one time I filled with 87 octane, but 90 and up has been fine.
Reading review after negative review I wonder whether I was just lucky, or whether my experience is more representative of the norm. My Passat was totalled last summer when a tree blown over by a storm crushed my garage (of course the Passat was in the garage). My experience? 95,000 miles with only 2 service matters. Fuel pump failed at 88,000. Parts and labor < $300. Replaced one CV boot at same time as a precaution. Parts and Labor also about $300. That's it. Outstanding performance and handling. Understated but elegant interior. Good ergonomics. Seats were firm but wonderful for long trips.
My Father has owned 7 VWs in his lifetime. When it was time for me to get my licence my dad gave me his passat. I got it with 170,000 miles on it and absolutely no problems. This car was bought new and driven everywhere. I have driven many cars and this was by far my favorite. Its a Luxury Experience with superb handling and performance for its size. Only a short year after getting the car i was hit by a drunk driver. i was driven of the road, went airborne, and ended up in the woods. All of the airbags went off and i was able to walk away completely unscathed. The care was totaled but needless to say this car saved my life. Just yesterday i bought another one. I cant live without my VW.