My 2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS

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Image of our new Passat...      Here is my wife's 2003 Passat.  My Jetta is still my playtoy.  The Passat is our "family car."  My wife is the primary driver.  The only reason we chose a Passat over another Jetta is rear legroom (however, similar legroom can be had in 2006 and later Jettas).   Although the specs only show another few inches of rear legroom, the difference is remarkable!  Currently, the Passat is the largest AFFORDABLE sedan offered by Volkswagen.  The Class D "Phaeton" is VW's flagship sedan; but it starts at $65,000 and guzzles fuel like an SUV.  Unlike the Mexican-built Jetta, Golf, and New Beetle, the Passat is actually imported from Emden, Germany.  Many would say this contributes to the Passat's flawless workmanship.  However, the Mexican cars are built exactly to German specs by German machines. Therefore, I tend to think the Passat is simply a better-designed car with more attention to detail.  Simply opening the doors and looking at the extra attention to weatherstripping, aerodynamics, and sheet metal tolerances will show you that more thought and detail went into the Passat's design.  The weatherstripping surrounding the engine bay pictured below keeps the engine compartment clean and dry.

The 1.8T...      The B5.5 Passat is available with three engine choices:  1) the 1.8T, a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 170-hp, is standard; 2) the V6 (not to be confused with the VR6), which puts out 190-hp; and 3) the W8, which is an eight cylinder that puts out 275-hp.  The W8 is only available in an all-wheel drive Passat that costs nearly $40,000.  NO THANKS!  The V6 Passat costs about $2000 more than the 1.8T; but it only gets you an additional 20-hp.  Many VW enthusiasts believe the 1.8T is "detuned" by VW in order to keep V6 sales up.  Believing this, I chose the 1.8T.  By simply reprogramming the ECU, the 1.8T can generate 215-hp and 245-ft/lbs and still net over 30-mpg on the highway.  I have kept my Passat stock over the years, mostly because my wife doesn't want me to touch it!  ;-)  But I may accidentally reprogram it when it comes time to replace the clutch.   ;-)

Passat dash with radio inset...      While my GLS is not a "luxury car," it is nicely equipped.  All 2000+ Volkswagens come with cool-blue dash lighting.  The difference was immediately noticeable, but easy on the eyes.  All Passats come with a multi-funcion computer.  These computers have dual displays for: 1) miles driven, 2) average speed, 3) instant miles per gallon, 4) average miles per gallon, and 5) miles left on remaining fuel.  All Passats come with power locks, power windows, power heated mirrors, cruise control, front, side, and curtain airbags, Immobilizer III security system (programmed lazer cut keys), and prewiring for CD changer.  My Passat has the Monsoon Sound System, featuring both CD and cassette players.  I'm a CD/MP3 kind of listener.   The cassette player is virtually worthless.  I like to use my laptop to play hours of MP3 music files on long road trips.  I'm pleased with the performance various devices which transmit audio signals to my FM stereo.  Many audiophiles consider this method and Monsoon to be a waste of money.  While I don't think Monsoon is the BEST stereo out there, it does sound very good for a factory stereo.  

Jump in and take a drive...      My Passat has a long time to go before replacing my Jetta as the house play toy.  Until then, it will be the family car, used for short drives and family outtings.  It's tough to say whether we'll use the Passat or the Jetta on long road trips.  The Passat is VERY comfortable.  But it's tough to forget the Jetta gets over 45-mpg during loaded touring.  I've developed a few dislikes of the car over the years.  They can be large or small depending on our level of mechanical expertise.  First, changing the air filter is not as simple as it should be.  There's a bunch of convoluted hoses in the way.  I have yet to find a way to do the job without scraping up my hands.  But I'm used to it.  The oil/filter change is a tad painful, too.  The belly pan has all sorts of attaching pieces which either break or don't thread back as designed (independent mechanics will surely lose these parts or replace them with junk).  I've found the job to go smoother with the belly pan stored in the garage.   ;-)  There seems to be no great way of removing the oil filter without spilling oil on horizontal engine/tranny surfaces below it, allowing oil to trickle all through the subframe.  I normally flush my subframe with brake cleaner after each oil change.   :-(  IMPORTANT: The small oil pan used on the B5.5 with 1.8T makes it prone to oil sludging.  It's very important to use the specified synthetic oil as well as the oversized oil filter to increase capacity.  I haven't suffered engine problems.  But I am currently, as of 9/2010, treating my 1.8T with AUTO-RX for peace of mind.  Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions regarding my Passat.  I'm no Passat or 1.8T expert; but I'll be glad to share my ownership experiences with you.

See you on the road...

Scott



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