2003 Volkswagen Passat GLX 2.8L V6
I like it OK, but don't love it
Exhaust flex pipes began rusting away, probably around 110,000 miles, and the noise finally became intolerable by around 140,000 miles. Replaced at an independent muffler shop for around $250.
I read that "water ingress into front passenger footwell" is a chronic problem with these Passats, so as soon as I had the car home, I removed the battery and hosed out the drain holes at the base of the windshield. They were plugged with goop! No water problems in the front.
But there's a chronic water ingress problem at the left rear door. I've had it at the VW dealership twice, but they just end up washing my car without solving the problem.
The engine has an overly complex engine ventilation system; there's constantly some weird EGR module going haywire at $450 a pop. This causes pressure to build in the crankcase, blowing engine seals and causing oil leaks. In the last two years, I've had the valve cover gaskets done, cam tower seals, as well as some other gasket I can't recall, I've cleaned out the crankcase breather tube, and the thing still blows oil and smells like it's about to burst into flames.
When I bought the car, the driver's seat heater didn't work. The next winter, I got a letter from VWoA announcing a seat heater recall. My driver's seat bottom leather and heating grid were replaced for free, and now works perfectly.
The interior is full of irritating squeaks and rattles, leaving an impression of junkiness. In other aspects, though, the car seems pretty well-made.
The radio has static when going over bumps. It makes me wonder if the antenna has an intermittent bad ground. But dropping the headliner to diagnose is just too hard, and there's no way I'd pay for a mechanic's time for that.
My previous car, a Volvo 740 Turbo, was supremely comfortable, and when I first got the Passat, the seats felt much firmer, and just different. I figured I'd get used to it, but after four years with this car, I've concluded it's just plain uncomfortable. The wide center console digs into my fat leg, and I can't find a comfortable seating position.
At nearly 150,000 miles, there's always some irritating little thing wrong with the car, but it's been generally dependable enough.
The car is seriously fast, handles well, is safe -- and with the manual transmission, kinda fun to drive.
The Monsoon double-DIN radio is utterly horrendous. Radio reception is dreadful, and the sound is too bass-heavy.
Parts are expensive.
It's nicer to drive than an Accord or Camry, but it's no BMW.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 26th March, 2013