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2003 Volkswagen Passat Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Overall: a solid cheap car. by jey133

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Introduction

Don't buy this car unless you know the service history and find it for cheap (under $2000).

Reviewed: 2003 Volkswagen Passat

4dr Sedan turbocharged 170hp 1.8L I4 5-speed manual FWD

Why the 2003 Volkswagen Passat?

Handling

Handling is very sharp. Turn-in is immediate and the car feels much more compact than it really is. Overall, it is a very predictable car to drive.

Fuel economy

I get right around the EPA estimate of 20 mpg around town. However, I frequently see mid to high 30's on the highway, which is way above the EPA rating!

Ride smoothness

Suspension is extremely comfortable without making the car feel like a boat. The car always feels planted, and it never is upset by bumps and road imperfections.

Cargo capacity

The trunk is pretty big and all of the rear seats fold down, so you can fit long items. Lots of room for things.

Powertrain performance

The engine is surprisingly nice considering it only has 170 hp and 166 lb/ft of torque. Not the fastest car around, but can certainly get out of its own way. Cruising at 65 mph, the engine is around 3000 rpms, and you can still easily pass people without downshifting.

Why Not the 2003 Volkswagen Passat?

Driving position & visibility

This is not a problem for me (5' 9"), but the clutch pedal travel is very long and the front seet does not go very far forward. Shorter people (under 5' 4" or so) may have to reach for the clutch pedal.

Materials & workmanship

A lot of the interior pieces rattle, particularly the air vents. Also, the trunk latch is finiky and the trunk itself is super heavy. The fabric on the doors is sagging. However, the materials generally feel nice.

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Response from babypunisher

1:13 am February 18, 2016

PROS: I leased and owned two VW Passats of this era brand new. I found them very enjoyable trouble free cars. The interiors were rock solid no shakes or rattles or seat wear. I found the size to be perfect for me. I am a big guy with huge shoulders and I had plenty of of head and shoulder room.

Both cars were V6 GLX models with a 5speed manual transmisson. I am 5'7" and drive like i'm over 6 foot the way I have the seat set back and I found no issue with clutch travel or enganement point. Lot's of power, no dead spots. The transmisson shifted very nicely with no gear grinding. Brakes were pretty good. Not over boosted at all. Steering was sharp. The ride was great!


CONS:Each Passat had one repair each. A water collant sensor and a flex hose for the exhaust. I found I would go through front brakes every 15,000 miles on each model which seemed like a lot. Stock Michellen tires were troublesome. Went through 2 sets on each car under 35,000 miles on each one. Seocn set lasted longe or until the lease was up on the first one. The second car I just switched tire brands after the first set and traded it in with those tires still on it. Sunroof drain tended to clog now and than and flood passenger side footwell due to the poor placment of it in the door jam instead of under the car.

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Response from mkaresh

11:41 am February 25, 2016

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