2003 Volkswagen Passat consumer reviews

$21,750–$22,825 MSRP range
side view of 2003 Passat Volkswagen
70% of drivers recommend this car
Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior design 4.2
  • Performance 4.0
  • Value for the money 3.6
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 3.5
Explore the 2003 Volkswagen Passat

I had high hopes...

I have owned my passat for a year and have had so many problems and unexpected expenses. I was not told how expensive the upkeep was. The car requires premium gas. Oil changes costs $50 or more, depending on where you take it because of the type of oil and filter that is required. The fuel pump went out and I later found out that it had been recalled. The brake switch has gone out, my axle boot has to be refitted, my cruise control went out and my dash lights all went out. Also, each time I get my oil changed, I'm informed that more and more screws have fallen out of my skid plate on the road. So I either have to pay for new bolts each time I get an oil change, or the mechanics zip tie my skid plate to my car. The car is only 4 years old! I really love the features, but they aren't worth it for the upkeep cost.


Passat - Quality, Value, performance

I have 50K miles on a 2003 Passat and could not be happier with this vehicle. No significant maintenance problems and excellent performance. Excellent handling and acceleration and interior design. Only drawback is lack of storage inside cabin. Otherwise have no complaints. Very comparable to more wel-regarded German sedans (BMW, Audi)


1 in 250,000 for reliability?

The car has been phenomenal for reliability. I have had oh so little done to it. A vacuum hose, a light bulb (trunk) and a clip. I have 50K miles and since 8/03. The handling is exceptional, the transmission is smooth and clean (5spd manual) and the body is holding up very well (no squeaks or rattles). The lthr frt seat are comfortable for any period of time. The rear seats are good for 2-3 hours. Dash is well laid out, but is boring. The turbo lag is pronounced. I highly recommend against the automatic tranny. We tested 2 Passats on 2 occations with the auto and both times came away unimpressed. Even with the manual, the lag is a little unsettling trying to start hard from 0 mph. Also drove a V6 and power delivery was SO much better. Alas the price, insurance and mileage held me back. I run synthetic oil in the engine and change oil about every 6K--no issues. I run 87 octane gas (VW recommends 91) and I avg 29 mpg combined total (approx 25 city and 33/34 hwy). the EPA numbers are 22/31. I feel I'm beating the odds.


I love my 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T/5S Manual

My Passat 1.8T is the best car I've ever owned. I've driven it for nearly 4 years/60,000 miles virtually problem free. The windshield wipers wore out after 2 years and are relatively expensive to replace, but I'd consider the VW Passat an overall win if that's the biggest issue I've had to face. The exterior styling is very modern, even for a design that is 5 years old. The interior (mine is black leather) has held up great, with the exception of a lost radio knob (hard to find a replacement part) and a fairly worn gear shift casing. The car handles beautifully in all driving conditions. I especially like the Electronic Stability Control feature in slippery/wet conditions. It is also worth noting that this car is very quiet, even for a German driving machine. Great car, I'll definitely buy another.


Passat is a great deal, but VW let standards slip

I've been happy with our Passat GLX. It's got all the necessities (like heated seats and Tiptronic transmission). It's been reliable and it performs OK. However, the performance isn't good enough to supply any excitement, and the interior seems more like mid-size commodity than the BMW wanna-be feel that originally attracted me to VW.