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1998-2005 Volkswagen Passat Pre-Owned

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Justin Pritchard
Successful last-generation Passat shopping requires patience and care
German luxury and performance cars aren’t typically inexpensive to buy or own-- though more and more used car shoppers are overlooking maintenance costs to take in some of the best handling, performance and styling the motoring world has to offer.

1999 Volkswagen Passat (Photo: Volkswagen)

The Volkswagen Passat was the German automaker’s top-line family sedan, and it offered plenty of luxury, features and refinement to rival similar products from pricier brands. Far from the cheapest or most sensible sedan of its size, the Passat did earn a reputation for delivering top-notch driving dynamics and road manners-- attributes which its owners tend to rave about. The last-generation Passat was sold to Canadians from 1998 until 2005, and the 2006-and-on iteration is still in showrooms today.

Where the sticker price is concerned, one might find the last-generation Passat to be a less expensive alternative to a comparably sized Audi, Mercedes or BMW. Most models shipped with a 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that developed between 150 and 170 horsepower, depending on the year. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, and an automatic tiptronic gearbox could be fitted, too.

Other engine choices included VW’s 2.0 litre TDI diesel engine, a 2.8 litre, 190-horsepower V6, and even the rare 275-horsepower W8 engine. Volkswagen’s ‘4Motion’ All Wheel Drive (AWD) system was available on certain models, too.

Look for features like a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, heated leather, a full suite of power accessories, heated washer nozzles, remote keyless access and a premium audio system. Power seats, a multifunction steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror were part of the package, too.

Owners typically rave about their Passat’s comfort levels, ride quality, interior spaciousness and refinement, not to mention an overall solid, stable and accommodating feel to the vehicle’s ride. Many owners report comfortable long-haul cruising, plenty of power and good relative fuel economy, too. The bright, easy-to-read instruments and discreetly upscale looks were other plusses.

Common complaints include hard-to-clean velour seats, pricey maintenance, an overly soft and not-so-sporty suspension, and the lack of a cruise-control indicator on earlier models. Some owners also report paint and interior trim wear issues, so be sure to scrutinize the body and cabin of any model you’re considering thoroughly.

2000 Volkswagen Passat (Photo: Volkswagen)
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert