My daily driver is a 2004 Volkswagen Passat Wagon 1.8T M/T, purchased new, now with 147,000 miles on the clock. Despite the legends about the poor reliability of this vehicle, it’s been good to me. (By this point, they had worked out both the sludge and coil pack problems.)
My concern is its handling: when this vehicle was released, it pretty much took all the COTY awards … Car and Driver, Edmunds, even Consumer Reports had it as their top pick for years until the coil pack problems became clear. The reviews for the thing all talked about how great it handled.
Babies are tough. Bosses can be tougher. But the indisputable boot camp of bare knuckled stress inducers has to be a young dog that hasn’t been given the care, love, and discipline it needs and deserves.
Not even the Volkswagen Passat W8 I bought last year can compare to the ball busting doled out by an 8-month-old female boxer named Luna, a hyper-cute animal that ruthlessly channeled all of my inner Cesar Millan this past weekend, and defecated it right on the carpet.
“What brings you to Vermont?” asked the young woman I was sitting beside on my flight to Burlington to drive the newly refreshed Passat.
“Volkswagen,” I replied simply.
After a pause, and with an eyebrow raised, she came back with the question: “Diesel?”
This is how every conversation about Volkswagen will start for years to come. And, to be fair, it’s also how we’ve talked about Volkswagen for the last 20 years — minus the eyebrow. Volkswagen is as intrinsically connected with diesel as Vermont is to small-town values that border on being Canadianesque.
Except now, conversations about Volkswagen diesels are punctuated with that eyebrow — and for all the wrong reasons.
Last March I shared some preliminary car reliability stats for the FIAT 500 and new Volkswagen Passat. The 500 looked very good at the time. The Passat was at the other extreme. Another three months have passed, and TrueDelta’s car reliability stats have been updated to include owner experiences through the end of March 2012. In these updated stats, the FIAT remains excellent while the Passat has improved. But in J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Survey (IQS), released yesterday, they’re both awful. What gives?