By on May 26, 2011

The “B5” Passat, which signaled the beginning of Volkswagen’s brief but luminous arc of twenty-first-century success in the United States, was priced at $20,750 including destination charge. For that kind of money, the buyers, of which your humble author was one, received a 1.8T engine, full-sized interior room, German assembly, and a fabulous set of luxurious appointments which usually did not completely self-destruct until the car reached its fourth or fifth birthday. It was a gorgeous game-changer of a car and for many people the juice of the driving experience was worth the painful squeeze of frequent dealings with VW’s “service” departments.

Fourteen years later, the price is the same — $20,765 including destination — but the game has definitely changed.

The base engine is VW’s completely unloved five-cylinder, appearing in the Passat for the first time and no doubt bringing its Ke$ha-like appetite for continuous liquid refreshment. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel audio controls and VW’s no-charge three-year/36,000-mile scheduled-maintenance program. The SE is priced at $23,725 and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a better radio, and a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel.

For $25,995, it’s possible to swap the 2.5L for a two-liter TDI which is projected at 43mpg highway. Base equipment on the TDI is “SE” level so this really only represents a twoish-grand hike over the gas car. Stick shift or DSG are the choices.

For the clinically insane or the hopelessly optimistic, $28,995 will purchase the VR6. Shorn of its factory mufflers, the VR6 makes an utterly glorious, completely unique noise that usually sounds like

Braaaaaaaaaaaaaap…. braaaaaaaaaap… DING! CHECK ENGINE!… dammit.

The Passat is built at Volkswagen’s new Westmoreland fiasco Chattanooga facility. VW fans longing for the days of the “wide-taillight” Rabbits and their amazing propensity to eject an astounding miscellany of parts onto the roadway will find all their needs for nostalgia met with the new Passat.

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59 Comments on “VW Passat Starts At $19,995, Diesel From $25,995...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Why does the Westmoreland experience of 30 years ago automatically assume that the new Passat will fall apart as it goes along down the road? That rationale gets kind of old after a while. It’s like saying that since a Pinto was a crap car, why…then the new Fusion must be equally horrid…or maybe since the Citation sucked wind so must the new Malibu. I grant that the new Passat doesn’t carry the same level of swank that the Passats of old did, and that truly is a shame. It’s what helped (marginally) set VW apart from the Toyota/Honda/Nissan crowd and made it almost acceptable to own. I’m not VW fanboi…the last new one I had was a 2000 Golf that I loved dearly…right up until it entered it’s third year of service and all manner of glitches afflicted the poor beastie. But at least that’s a comparison within the last 10 years, not 30!

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      Jack, any predictions on whether this domestic Passat will sell well or not?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Since 1998, I have had the following VWs, all bought new:

      1998 Passat 1.8t 5-speed – German production, not sure where
      2000 Golf GLS 1.8t 5-speed – Brazilian
      2005 Phaeton V8 – Dresden
      2006 Phaeton V8 – Dresden

      All of them required multiple trips to the dealer in the first two years for unscheduled maintenance.

      I cannot imagine this Passat, which costs less than any of the above cars despite being newer, will be any better.

      • 0 avatar
        K5ING

        Jack…just out of curiosity, were the “unscheduled” visits you had to make with these cars engine related, or car related. I agree with some of the posts here about VWs being either dead reliable, or problematic. However, as a Mk IV (Brazilian made) Golf TDI owner with over 422,000 troublefree miles on his (both the car and the engine), I’ve noticed that many of the problems relate to the owner’s maintenance of the cars. Volkswagens are very intolerant of improper and/or neglected maintenance, improper fluids and improper repair/maintenance procedures.

        If you drive them in a responsible manner and maintain them EXACTLY as it says in the manual, they (at least the diesels) will last forever. If you drive and maintain them like the typical American (late or no maintenance, cheapest oil/fluides you can find at Pep Boys, non-specialists doing timing belt changes, etc), they will give out on you.

        This is also why I feel that Golfs hold up better than Jettas. Golfs tend to be bought by “car guys” while Jettas are bought by people who should really have Toyotas or used Chevy Cavaliers or something like that, if you know what I mean.

        I also agree that the dealer network is VW’s biggest failing as far as the public is concerned. As much as I like my Golf, it’s the dealers that will keep me from buying another one.

        http://caughtatthecurb.blogspot.com/2011/03/golf-with-insane-miles.html

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I’d have to go through my records. The Passat and Golf didn’t have any engine issues… stereos died, trim fell off, buttons on the dashboard stopped working. My ’06 Phaeton had persistent overheating issues which required five separate stays at the dealer, one of those stays lasting about three weeks. It also ate a wheel bearing, which I attribute to my going off-course at the top of VIR’s “Esses” at approximately 120mph and bouncing along through the weeds at full-throttle so I didn’t lose my position in traffic before re-entering.

        Both Phaetons, of course, required multiple service calls for their infotainment systems, with the 05 eventually getting a whole new unit.

        My Town Car just hit 51,000 miles, to put this in perspective, and has had one unscheduled stop, for a door lock regulator which was replaced while I waited in about 90 minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I assume you have not done any 120 mph off-road excursions at VIR in the Town Car?

      • 0 avatar

        I’m curious, Jack, what made you decide to buy a Phaeton, and twice at that?

        D

    • 0 avatar
      hakata

      My 2001 B5 was made in Emden. The trim started coming unglued about year 4.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The 1998 Passat was a German car, not a Westmoreland car. Westmoreland was gone 10 years by then.

      My 02 B5.5 Passat required about 12 unscheduled trips to the dealer in 3 years. It was my first VW, and probably my last.

      The 05 xB I traded it for made 1 unscheduled trip to the dealer in 06 for a broken window switch, replaced in 1/2 hour. I haven’t been to the dealer in 5 years.

      • 0 avatar
        340-4

        I bought a new 2001.5 Passat. The transmission kerpooped at around 10k.

        I traded it it for a new Pathfinder, which, other than regular maintenance, has had one MAF replaced.

        In 120k miles.

    • 0 avatar

      Jack, don’t you realize that if you regularly change the fluids that this also maintains the trim and electronic bits? Especially if you use the best synthetics.

      I think the new Passat will sell well because it has attractive, conservative styling, a very roomy interior, and a competitive price. It’s also possible that the decontenting to make the car profitable at this price will actually help reliability. Time will tell. If it does sell well, TrueDelta could start having reliability stats for the car about a year from now.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      People don’t assume that the new Passat will fall apart as it goes along down the road because of the Pennsylvania Rabbits. People assume it will fall apart because every water cooled VW ever sold in the US was a gamble for buyers. The reason Westmoreland history is being invoked is because it is repeating. Westmoreland VWs didn’t strand any more people than German Rabbits did, but they did have trim and styling revisions that were supposed to make them more American market mainstream. They had unrecognizable interiors with cheap, chintzy, color keyed, multi-textured, US sourced GM style garbage in place of the cheap, spartan, black, plastic and vinyl covered cardboard German interior trim of imported Rabbits. They had styling revisions that allowed them to disappear into traffic. They had no emphasis on styling or drivetrain refinement. Magazines called the metamorphosis ‘Malibuization.’ The label suits this new Passat even better than it did those poor Rabbits.

    • 0 avatar
      ponytrekker

      Because it’s a Passat. I had one. At 36100 miles it died. At 36105 miles, after repair, it was traded in for an INFINITI at a dealer 5 miles away.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Why does the Westmoreland experience of 30 years ago automatically assume that the new Passat will fall apart as it goes along down the road?

    Because, no matter where they’re made (Germany, Mexico, the US, Brazil) VWs have had higher than average problem counts. In that sense, it’s the not “US Assembled” part of “US Assembled VW” that’s the problem.

    Also recall that these cars exist largely because the MkV Golf and Jetta, as well as the B6 Passat, were high-cost vehicles.** The phrase “cost-cutting at VW” should strike fear into any owner’s heart. Toyota and Honda struggled with cost control (eg, they went from stellar to pretty good)—how do you think VW will do?

    **That those vehicles were some of VW’s mosr reliable should tell you two things: a), that VW can build a decent car, and that b) VW has cost-control problems

  • avatar
    DesmosDromos

    No love for the Passat, eh? My wife and I got a B5 Passat wagon new in 1999 and traded it in 2009 on a CPO 2007 B6 wagon. Both have been pretty reliable cars and I’ll take these over any minivan or SUV out there any day of the week. If you want a roomy euro wagon at a reasonable price it’s kinda the only game in town and in my experience better than VW’s rep for quality.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    This is the path to world domination in the automotive market?

  • avatar

    Jack, you almost sound like someone who lived on VWVortex.com for a few years… ;-)

    The TDIs have almost brought me back to VW several times, but then I remembered my A4 Jetta, the awful dealer experience, and how OFTEN I got to visit said awful dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      Unless the car is under warranty – STEER CLEAR of the stealerships and find a good private mechanic. The goal of the dealership service department is to see how much money they can squeeze out of you over the life of the vehicle.

      Dealerships make the BULK of their profits from their service departments – thus the higher than normal parts and service prices to cover their overhead expenses….

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    my turn.
    I had a 2008 Passat wagon that was the bast damn car I’ve ever owned. Didn’t have a single option on it, it was a stripper in VW terms. Never had a problem, 0-60 in 7 seconds-ish, averaged 30 mpg, and you could load the world into it. It also had a stick shift, which was awesome. I was hit in that car by a jackass who lost control of his SUV at about 70 mph and broadsided me at full speed. The car was totalled. I was without a scratch. Didn’t even break a nail.

    Naturally, I replaced the Passat with a 2010 Jetta sportwagon TDI with every bell and whistle they had. It was the WORST car I’ve ever owned and made 11 trips to the dealer in the 10 months I owned it.

    My take on this? VW can build a hell of a car that can take a hell of a beating. BUT they get overzeaous with the gadgetry and that’s when the urea hits the radiator fan. I also don’t have a lot of faith in that Mexico plant where my Jetta came from. A lot of my Jetta’s issues realted to crappy assembly more than crappy design. End of the day: go light on the useless options, stay away from the south of the border assembly, and things should be better (others may feel different, and that’s cool)

    • 0 avatar
      drifter

      It is disingenuous to blame people south of the border for VW reliability woes. Last time I checked Audis made in fatherland are not exactly paragons of reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Sundowner,
      What problems did you have with your Jetta TDI? Where they mechanical problems that affected drivability, or electrical glitches such as power windows, headlights, or the radio?

      Anecdotal evidence for VW reliability seems to be bipolar. Some rave about the flawless reliability of theirs, while others had nothing but problems. You seem to have had both. But I doubt the Mexican assembly location is a such a large issue. From what I remember on TrueDelta, the Mexican-built MKV Jettas have had fewer problems that Passats from the same generation. I think Consumer Reports indicates the same.

      • 0 avatar
        mdensch

        And the Mexican-built Ford Fusion is one of that company’s most reliable cars, according to most sources of data. If a car has reliability issues, blame management, not the line worker or the country of origin.

      • 0 avatar
        Sundowner

        Let’s see, I had a persistent ABS malfunction that was traced to a weatherpak conenctor that was forced together at a kilter under one of the front wheel wells.
        I had a constant airbag light that was traced to another mishandled connector under the driver seat.
        Then I had a sunroof that wouldn’t operate properly and that was traced to sliding panel roof rails that were not installed properly.
        Then there was the thunk in the front suspension, turns out the subframe bolts were loose.
        Another good one was the door weatherstipping installed incorrectly that required replacement.
        And my favorite, the front windo actuators that had to be pulled out and actually have bolts installed and tightened.

        Near as I can figure, pretty much all of the above resulted from some guy in a factory not doing his job. correct me if I’m wrong here.

        Now I’m not going to let VW off the hook for any other slights. The whole time I dealt with this nonsense the service department was snide, rude, and borderline incompetant. When they actually got around to finding problems, they were highly apologetic, so I’ll give them that.

        And the car was not without it’s engineering faults. that touch screen raido was an abomination and the TDI engine would make Rube Goldberg roll over in his grave.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My German built, non-nav, non-sunroof ’07 GTI (the only options I added were the factory aero, 18″ wheels, and rear torso airbags) had all sorts of issues that were replaced with ‘countermeasured’ parts (AC compressor, cruise control stalk, O2 sensor, and ignition coils). When the AC failed the 2nd time, this time out of warranty, we parted ways. There were other quality issues that I didn’t even bother to address because they were basically annoyances (vent rattle, automatic-turn-up-to-11 bass on the stereo, broken parking brake cover).

      The guy I sold it to was impressed with my maintenance records and how I knew every little imperfection in the car. The way I maintained it wasn’t the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        ja-gti

        Just to throw in another perspective –

        My ’07 GTI, every option except nav, chipped, and with vag-com mods, hasn’t given me any problems so far. And that’s with the DSG and lots of track days included. Windows all work, nothing has fallen off the dash, etc, etc. The bass flare was a quick TSB fixed by the dealer, some front subframe groaning was fixed in twenty minutes with $10 Audi bolts, and there are other issues I keep myself informed about through owners’ forums, all minor and fixed myself.

        I think VW’s need a higher level of owner involvement than Honda/Toyota. Would I recommend this car to for your sister who just got her first job – no. But I drive it to the track on Saturday, and then to work on Monday, and it hasn’t let me down yet.

  • avatar
    drifter

    After corolla inspired Jetta and Accord inspired Passat, will be be seeing edsel inspired Rabbit next?

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    My only ownership experience with VW/Audi was a 2000 Audi A4 1.8t. Depsite its propensity to destroy window regulators, it was actually a really good car that I still think may have been the best I’ve owned. Sadly, most of the newer VWs I’ve seen look like they’re falling apart after only a year or two. I’ve seen multiple Jetta’s with that silver interior trim peeling off.

  • avatar
    jaje

    VWs look nice from afar – and that’s where I keep them. The only thing drawing me to them would be the TDI option as they are one of the few that offer a diesel option in a passenger car.

  • avatar
    banker43

    I’ll agree with sundowner on the base model Passat with the stick. I’ve got an ’07 sedan and the car is a blast to drive. It’s a GTI without the boy-racer looks. Throttle body replaced under warrenty. No other problems. Disgree on the Mexican plant. The wife’s Jetta has been rock-solid and all the stats out there show our experience is not unique

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    This time…things will be different.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I’ve owned a number of VWs going back to my first 1966 Beetle and Karman Ghia and on through Passats, Golfs and finally a 2004 Phaeton. With the exception of the POS Phaeton, they were all good and reliable cars. I think the Phaeton was a “bridge too far” for VW. They need to get back to basic cars with good value and reliability. Maybe what we percieve as “decontenting” is just that.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    My experience, the experience of my family members and the experience of people I personally know, in owning Volkswagens, from about 1992 to the recent, is almost universally so negative, that it’s actually hard to describe.

    I could get into specifics, but it’d take too much time and I am not feeling that energetic today.

    Suffice it to say that this household will never own another VW at any price, no matter the circumstance, under any condition whatsoever.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    I bought a new Rabbit for my daughter in 08. It was surprisingly cheap at just under 18 grand, has had zero problems, and is a blast to drive. Maybe we are the exception, but so far so good.

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      Consumer Reports seems to concur with your findings – the Rabbit is on their Recommended list of cars…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      That was the MkV Rabbit/Golf/Jetta. The MkVI and NCS are highly cost-cut compared to that car.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Actually Mk6 Golf/GTI has substantially higher content than NCS (Mk6 Jetta). There are some cost reductions from the Mk5 version, but they are relatively minor (multi-link rear suspension, disc brakes, hood struts, soft-touch interiors etc are all still there).

        The Jetta took the biggest hit on the cost reduction (and judging by the sales results, it was the right business decision), and Passat was next. Other models are little affected by the cost cuts in practice.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    OK, we get it– you think VWs are unreliable. Granted, they’re not Toyotas, but even Toyotas aren’t Toyotas anymore, as reliability goes. If I want reliability stats, I’ll consult TrueDelta, and not until some of these are on the road for a spell, to establish a track record. Meanwhile, you’re just sniping about cars of the past and feeding the trolls that haunt VW’s every step. So I’ll move along, there’s nothing to see here.

    After owning a dozen VWs, I have my own beefs about planned unreliability. The switchblade car keys that they’ve used since 1998. Their poor physical construction ensures that after a few years, the key ring attachment will fail (probably sooner, if you hang the weight of more than two or three keys on the ring). You’ll discover they are not covered by warranty, they’re not repairable and a new set, with dealer programming, will cost you close to a set of new tires. That’s the real scandal with VW reliability, not the cars themselves.

    And when I read that you bought not one but two $70K Phaetons and raced them on road courses, I have to ask: right tool for the job? Did you race that Town Car, too? No? Maybe that’s why it didn’t break.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      It’s not trolling if it’s true. VW reliablity and dealer service stinks according to DATA not just opinions. If you consult TrueDelta you will see that the contrast is quite clear. VW isn’t even in the same time zone with Toyota as far as reliability goes. This goes far boyond a niggling problem with the key fob.

      The VW faithful are a special breed that I am quite familiar with. They will endure the most ridiculuos maintenace, repair costs, and hassles to proudly wear that ownership badge. In their world, ABS module, coil pack, and control arm replacements are considered “routine” maintenance. I got out while I still had some money and sanity left.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Even in Germany, VW’s reliability is found to be lacking.

      In AutoBild’s reliability rankings (they do the most comprehensive analysis of reliability in the industry), VW finishes towards the bottom.

  • avatar
    carguy

    VW would have to demonstrate a real effort to improve both their dealer network and the reliability of their products before I would even consider any of their cars no matter what their country of origin is. These deficiencies are not recent developments but span back 15+ years so all I can assume that either corporate doesn’t care or is unwilling to make the necessary changes. Either way, in this class I would buy a Malibu or Sonata before I would even walk into a VW dealership.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Braaaaaaaaaaaaaap…. braaaaaaaaaap… DING! CHECK ENGINE!… dammit.

    Love it!

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    VW would have to make more appealing cars to bring me back into the dealership again. Perhaps the new New Beetle will do that. And were I nuts enough to ever buy a new car again (or rich as Baruth), I would follow this protocol. 1) Call a trusty local auto broker who would negotiate a good price; 2) Sign the papers; 3) Drive off happily; 4) Enjoy the free maintenance package if offered; 5) The minute a dealer asked me to spend a dime, I’d drive to my trusted independent VW mechanic to get ‘er done.

    That wasn’t so hard, was it?

  • avatar
    brettc

    I own a 2000 Jetta and a 2003 Jetta. Both TDIs and both assembled in Mexico. Bought the 2000 Jetta for the wife in Sept. 2004 with 93000 miles on it. I bought my car new almost 8 years ago.

    Aside from one major problem with my car (failed injection pump), they’ve been reliable. And I can’t blame the dead injection pump on VW. It was either a failure on Bosch’s end, or else the craptacular diesel fuel in the U.S. did it in. Having said that, I have had minor electrical issues with my car. When I move the driver’s side sun visor over to the left, the light comes on above it. It’s done that since about 2005. Haven’t bothered to address it because it’s not a huge concern. Also, the driver’s side door switch is broken on my car. So I can lock/arm it with the DS door open. The odd thing is, these things haven’t occurred on my wife’s 11 year old Jetta!

    So as others have said, some VWs can be great, while others aren’t. Luckily I’ve just had minor problems on mine. I also enjoy doing my own maintenance and have saved a huge amount of money from the how-to articles on tdiclub.com. I’ve gone to the dealer once for my car when it was new, but never again. I take it to an independent shop to get inspection stickers, and do whatever I can myself for repairs/maintenance. The independent shop does whatever I can’t/won’t do. And a local TDI guru does any engine related work that I can’t/won’t do.

    Hopefully VW is working hard to fix their dealer network and hopefully the new Passat will have high build quality and few problems. Because they can sell all the new Passats and Jettas they want. But if/when people start dumping them for Hyundais and Hondas, they might need to scale back their ambitious expansion plans.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    Is it just me, or does that new Passat look like a Toyota Avalon with a VW grill bolted on?

  • avatar

    All I want for Christmas is for VW to buy the MG brand from the Chinese.

    ->So they can start a Truth-In-Advertising Trim Level available on all their cars.

    It won’t be S, SE, SEL, GLS, GLI, or GTI.

    It’ll be trim-level MG.

    -That’s short for Maintenance Grenade.

    And By LAW, a member of the dealer’s staff will be obligated to pull out a small ring-pin from the side of your car, show you that he has done-so, and drop it on the ground,

    -JUST as you drive off the lot.

    tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ….

    :P

  • avatar
    cdfree

    Had an A1 Jetta (1983) with the 1.7 in college and it leaked water onto my feet whenever it rained, which trashed the entire fuse box. It also had an open storage area right under the glove box, which would also fill with water (completely). Because I was so happy to be able to convince my girlfriend at the time that the Indigo Girls CDs she stored in there were ruined by the water, I bought an A3 in 1998 as a new 97. Except for the time that the power moonroof (I was a sucker for the power moonroof and powerless windows combined with 5 speed) refused to close as I entered a car wash, it really was a relatively trouble-free car. Had an Acura and Volvo in between but I am definitely going to check out the TDI at that price.

  • avatar
    Adub

    VWs aren’t reliable, not even in Europe. The new cars are so ugly I see no reason to overlook shoddy engineering.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Here’s some alternative explanations for VW’s reputation for unreliability:
    1) VW made the Beetle for decades with few changes, perfecting each part and ironing out the bugs (so to speak). Then they abruptly shifted to building front drive, water-cooled hatchbacks made overseas (in PA). What could go wrong with that?
    2) VW’s are marketed to the young, often as first cars, to owners who haven’t established good maintenance or driving habits. When things go wrong, it’s doubly disappointing to their high expectations. Remember the first time you were dumped?
    3) There’s the matter of all those GM parts that VW agreed to buy in the late ’90’s in the settlement of the Lopez lawsuit. What do you wanna bet they included window regulators, 1.8 T coil packs and the rest of the usual suspects?
    4) This century’s VWs have offered much more than the usual list of standard equipment, for the price. Something has to give… was it quality control?
    5) VWs are rolling bombs, designed by evil people and all built on a Friday afternoon.

    Many folks here and on other forums seem to ascribe to answer number 5. I rank that one down there with most other conspiracy theories. To the extent that VW’s break more than any other brand, I’d place the blame on a mixture of the first four factors.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Nice try with those “explanations” but you are obviously a VW apologist. You seem to assume that VWs reliability woes are either, everyones elses fault, or their haters are irrational.

      I was an extremely anal owner who read the online forums, did above and beyond maintenance, and didn’t abuse the car. Still fell apart in ways that could not be anything but faulty design, engineering, and parts. –P.S. almost all of the VW parts that failed were Bosch et al., not GM.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        Actually I think the coilpacks were BERU, not Bosch, but still not a GM part. I believe the recall almost bankrupted them (Bertel would know for sure). In any case, I’m not aware that GM actually manufactures their own electronic parts in house…Almost no automaker does.

        And the Rabbit was made for quite a few years in Germany before the PA line was started. So no go on that one either.

        Scions are also marketed to the young, often as first cars. No issues there.

        Most upscale features that were offered on VW’s had been either standard or options on Audi’s for generally around a decade before being incorporated on common VW’s. One would have thought the bugs would have been worked out.

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    I had a 2009 Passat CC that I bought new. 2.0L turbo with 6 speed manual. Drove it “spiritedly” without flaw or issue for almost 80,000 miles before I traded it in for a new A5. The CC was a fantastic car through and mfn’ through. Never a problem.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    I have never had a problem with my VW in three years. However, at the dealership I have heard lots of nonsense advice, such as one person being advised to use higher octane gas in their Jetta to resolve some issue the owner had. So once I have a problem with my VW, I am going to be in big trouble.

  • avatar
    Forty2

    I leased a gorgeous black n tan German-built Passat GLS 1.8T 5-speed in 2003. Other than a baulky rear window that was fixed (twice) under warranty I had no problems with the car over four years and I loved driving it. Got it up to 120mph in N. Dakota on a road trip to Winnipeg before I chickened out. But when the lease ran out I decided that owning a VW out of warranty was probably not a good idea so instead of buying it I leased a 2007 Audi A4 Quattro 2.0T 6-speed, and while that was a great car the engine was not as refined as the 1.8T. Reports of “sludge” damage in 1.8T engines I attribute to owners not doing scheduled maintenance. As with any complex mechanical device, if you don’t maintain it, it’ll bite your ass. These are not Honda Accords.

    Especially from the rear 3/4 view, the car looked liked it was machined out of a steel billet, with a gorgeous roofline arch. The front end was a little busy but the rear was… well, it had a perfect ass. Huge trunk, too. The replacement car looked like it was molded out of PVC. I like the look of the new one better, though it’s a little generic from the rear. The front is definitely recognizable as a current VW and I like it.

    Still, that B5.5 Passat was probably the best car VW ever sold here, at least in terms of value, comfort, and performance. It was essentially a de-contented Audi A6; it had a longer wheelbase than the contemporary A4. Before I signed I drove a 2.8 V6 manual and a W8 manual but although the latter was an utter scream the insurance would have been nuts and the former didn’t offer much in the way of performance over the 1.8T and consumed a lot more fuel, so I went with the base and more satisfying engine. The 90° V6 seemed grumbly and rather coarse and lacked that turbo rush of power. OK, aka turbo lag, but when the boost manifested it was FUN. The W8 was riotous but in the end it was not worth the $20K premium and those engines had serious issues down the road.

    This Neue Passat, and the prior one, pales in comparison. RIP, B5.5 Passat. Really, VW, sticking us Yanks with that iron-lump 2.5 I5? Again? That engine is offered in no other VW markets; why do we get that heavy, thirsty tractor motor vs. something competitive and edgy? I know, going for the CamCord herd, but throw the rest of us a bone here. The TDI is a fine engine but it’s not worth the price premium unless you drive a HELL of a lot more than the average 12K miles per year, and the V6 stinks of failure. How about the same 1.4TSI and 1.8TSI engines as in the UK market, where the 2.5 klanker is conspicuously absent?

    Despite all this, it appears VW USA for once made the right decision whether I agree with it or not; I am seeing a LOT of 2012 Jettas on the road. If the cost-cutting strategy works with Der Neue Passat, great. Maybe I’ll even buy one some day if they offer some of the better engines.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    Jack – I know who Kesha is only because I have a pre-teen daughter (and I am not thrilled that she knows who it is…). However, I do not believe that you can claim the same excuse…You’re almost as old as I am, we have no businees knowing anything about Kesha!
    Jim

  • avatar
    hurls

    I’m a theoretical fan of VWs (and a current Audi owner), but I’m not sure I’d ever pull the trigger.

    I’ve felt this way since I first saw this magazine cover: http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/ImgGalleryTn/60/39960/1631_3585.jpg

  • avatar
    Tinker

    They could have aligned the VW logo better on that lemon. But I like the paint color!

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Even if only one VW in 10 were a “Maintenance Grenade” (it is worse) they wouldn’t be up to current expectations of reliability. Stories about the VW’s that are reliable does nothing to address the problem, many that they sell are just CRAP. Unless one of the lucky owners has perfected a method of determining which cars are lemons ahead of time (build day, country of origin, trim level, prime number VIN) then they’re not bringing me any closer to pulling the pin on one of these.

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