For a long time in our family, we’ve had a main car that my wife drove, and the secondary car, usually a beater, that I drove. That changed slightly about a year ago, when we decided, right before the fuel prices shot up, to sell our GMC Yukon, and get two cars that were more fuel efficient, and perhaps more fun to drive, and at the same time would be roomy enough for us and two kids. This review will be about the one that I purchased for myself, the 2000 VW Passat GLS V6 with manual 5 speed transmission.
As you can see through my other reviews, I’ve owned VWs over a long period of time. I find them to be the best value around in their respective classes; 2000 Passat was the best value in its class at the time, though sadly, it doesn’t seem the case any longer; the new Passats are rather expensive, relative to their peers in class. Jetta is certainly a good value too, but this review is about Passat, so I’ll stick to it.
By overall best value, I mean a car that has enough standard equipment, that other cars in class consider optional, a car that has decent fuel economy, good handling, good reliability and provides a great level of driver satisfaction. So with this out of the way, let’s get started.
I purchased my Passat a little over a year ago used from the dealer, and I’ve been generally very satisfied with it. There are some shortcomings, for sure, but overall it has been a great car providing pretty reliable daily transportation that’s also a lot of fun to drive.
Exterior of this particular model, while not spectacularly beautiful, is very classy, with understated elegance, very clean lines, and is very functional as well. The factory paint has proved to be very quality, with a lot less chips in 8 years, than some of the Japanese or American counterparts. The rocker panels, as well as both bumpers have black plastic overlays on the very bottom parts to protect from rock chips and corrosion. Headlight illumination is excellent, although the quality of lens, here in Deep South has started to deteriorate and they developed some hazing. This seems to be happening to most of the cars over 5 years old around here, and not specific to this one model though. The wheels fill the wheel wells very good, leaving just enough space to be functional and look great.
Ride and handling
The car is a pure joy to drive; handling is very nimble and controlled, the ride is supple and not overly soft. Basically, when you drive this car, you feel in control the whole time. There is virtually no engine noise in the cabin unless you rev over 4000 rpm. Steering is very exact and has great feedback from the road.
Engine and transmission
The V6 engine is very smooth and powerful. 1.8 turbo engine that’s installed in the lesser trim levels is prone to sludge and consequent failure, resulting in many thousands of dollars worth of repairs, so I would not recommend that engine. The fuel economy from V6 is absolutely excellent; I drive mostly in stop and go traffic, commuting to and from work in Atlanta, and I average about 24 mpg. On few 600 mile trips, I averaged 28 mpg on highway, most of the time driving 80mph or more. V6 has been absolutely reliable, and with 85K miles on it, still behaves like new. It is a very quiet and smooth power plant. The transmission is very exact, and is absolutely a joy to shift, and works in perfect harmony with clutch.
The interior is appointed well, with soft velour fabric on the seats, sunroof that is operated by dial is great; allows you to open it completely in one twist. The cabin is very quiet, with some subtle road noise on harsh surfaces, but nothing that would make you raise your voice until about 85mph. The ergonomics are great, with the only problem on the interior being lousy location of the cupholder. That cupholder also can’t fit anything larger than small coffee cup or drink. I’m not a fan of eating or drinking inside of the car, being a clean freak, so this doesn’t bother me at all, but I can see it presenting some issues to other people.
Reliability and maintenance
The reliability of this car has been outstanding. I have only had two issues that were minor. One was a common problem with all VWs 1998 to 2000 where the plastic clips holding the windows would break and window would fall into the door. This would result in need to replace window regulator. It is not a complicated procedure and I replaced my passenger regulator in about 2 hours. The cost of the regulator was $160 at VW dealership. I could’ve had VW replace it, but it would probably have cost me additional $200 in labor or more. The other issue, which I haven’t addressed yet, is the door lock module. When it starts to malfunction, the remote control to the car stops working, or works only occasionally. The price to replace it is $350 to have dealership do it, so it’s not a bank buster, but since it hasn’t bothered me that much, and I can still lock/unlock doors by manually unlocking/locking them with the key, I just let it linger.
Maintenance is rather expensive for some items. Last summer I had to replace the timing belt on the engine, and that costs $850 to do, but you only do that once every 80K miles.
Everything else was trouble free, and I have enjoyed driving this car. Every time I get the new car itch, I go to local car wash, then follow it up with a nice drive on some windy two lane road with sunroof open. That cures the new car itch immediately, and places a huge smile on my face. Overall, if I had to do it again, I would purchase this car in a heartbeat.
Amount Paid (US$):
2000Model and Options:
Passat GLS V6