I am sure you get this all of the time…my apologies in advance. I am replacing my VW Passat 2003 GLS. It was fun to drive, but had its issues as we all know. No sludge thank goodness. Several leaks! I would like a car that is comparable in drivability, (I have a manual but will buy an auto this time), but better in reliability, and perhaps greener. Tell me what to buy please! I have read the reviews, but they are all over the place….I wish you had a favorites list! Thank you.
Telling you what to buy is never a good idea, recommendations followed by ample amounts of test driving is the only way to go. Any of the following cars will be more durable/reliable and cheaper to fix than your current ride, so no worries there. And probably my favorite “sleeper” for a displaced Passat nut is the Toyota Camry SE, it’s quite a well sorted sedan in a place you’d never expect. Obviously the V6 is the best for acceleration but not for fuel economy, and no love for the LE or XLE’s suspension tuning.
The Mazda 6 is another perennial favorite ’round these parts, and its not impossible to have fun in a Ford Fusion “Sport” or maybe even the Nissan Altima. But, at the end of the day, the first car I’d drive for a Passat replacement would be a Sonata: SE Turbo, in this case. Aside from the sweet performance, stellar warranty and decent price, the Turbo SE Sonata has something very VW about it: arguably the best interior appointments in its class and maybe the most impressive style for any family sedan. And it could be Fahrvergnügen incarnate!
Sajeev pretty much nailed it.
I will add that a well chosen set of tires can go a long way towards making this ride a keeper. I’ve had some plebian rides in my younger days (1990 Geo Prizm anyone?) that all of a sudden felt that much more crisp and sporty thanks to investing in top of the line tires. Most tires from the factory wear out in about 20k to 30k. So you may want to keep an eye out for what other owners of your model do to make their ride more of a driver’s car.
The Hyundai SE Turbo is a top consideration. I’m not much for the Mercedes-esque cocoon like design. But it is definitely a strong value in the midsized market. The Camry SE is a bit too large and stale for my tastes. The Mazda 6 is kinda caught in your cross hairs and the Subaru Legacy is another entry that fits the bill of a ‘sporty’ midsized vehicle. We can throw in the Fusion SE into this mix as well. All of these vehicles will make you happy.
You’re pretty much buying an ‘interior’ and ‘driving feel’ in this segment. The best? More than likely it’s the Sonata Turbo. Good luck!
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