This generation of the Passat is defined by its solid and luxurious feel; along with a quiet and comfortable ride, capable handling and quality interior furnishings. Further, it's advanced standard safety gear was remarkable for the time. Those strengths helped the Passat remain among the top choices in this segment. But its controls and cargo space didn't score quite as well as those in some competing models.
Alerts
There are 7 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Consumer Reports’ Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey can improve the chances of finding a compatible car match. How? Our survey data reveals whether, all things considered, owners would buy the same car again. The answer to that question is what determines our owner-satisfaction rating, which is a powerful piece of intel because it predicts how well a particular model will satisfy other owners.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Owner Satisfaction with:

Driving Experience

Includes acceleration and handling

What Owners Say

"Visibility is not great"

R W., TN (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The car handles well in general. However, there is a serious lag time of one second or so after pressing the accelerator before the car starts to move from a complete stop. This has been an ongoing issue from delivery on. I brought up the issue with the dealer several times with no satisfaction. Although I have learned to adjust for this limitation it remains a very serious safety issue."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Very good handling on mountain roads. Like driving it. Feel safe."

Anonymous, ID (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Acceleration in first gear is inadequate....engine hesitate. It has done this from day 1 in August 2002. Handling is great."

C W., NC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Love German handling; 4 cylinder is not adequate."

SCOTT P., CT (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Very good excelleration . Car hadling great in all weather conditions especially in snow never had any issues. While passed numerous vecheciles stuck in snow on road, or spun out cars."

GREG Q., ON (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Best car I've had for feeling I have control of where the car goes."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Good acceleration and handling very good"

Anonymous, IA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Handling very good. Manual transmission. Acceleration is inadequate. 1st gearing is all wrong; suitable only to get the car moving so 2nd gear can be used. One in 2nd gear acceleration is good if using 91 octane gas; poor if using Regular gas."

C W., NC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It's a 15-year old car and has plenty of power. Predictable, even enjoyable, handling."

John H., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"All wheel drive, and good handling"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Great quality and driving experience, station wagon unfortunately no longer available."

Anonymous, MA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It still drives well. Acceleration is adequate. It does great in the winter, but we have 4 studded winter mountain snow tires."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Sports car handling and very precise steering. Plenty of power with V6 to manage any situations."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Well built vehicle that has lasted the test of time. Now our second vehicle that we use only in-town."

Henry S., ON (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"great highway car. Felt like a luxury car. Great acceleration with V6 engine."

Mary U., RI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Better acceleration than the Outback. Handles like a sports car. Too bad it has to use premium car."

Randy R., IN (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Excellent handling with front wheel drive and 6 speed manual shift. Having extreme difficulty finding a replacement car when the time comes to do so."

Anonymous, MI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"unwillingness to replace re-called seat"

Anonymous, MI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The acceleration is strong and smooth, thanks to the magnificient 1,8 liter turbo engine (that's also very economical on gas)."

Andre L., QC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"5 speed. love the control, love the acceleration. it's a V6 and it will get on the freeway right now."

David V., NC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Good acceleration, handles great in mountains, handles well for 100,000+ miles."

John H., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It handles beautifully. Neat turning, smooth acceleration, easy shifting."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Love this car with the 1.8L Turbo"

Anthony M., WI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"handles like a sports car"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"I love the manual transmission, and that the car accelerates reasonably quickly and is very responsive to driver input."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"steering is precise so i don't feel very nervous on curvy mountain roads. Acceleration is fast so I'm comfortable merging in highway traffic."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

Comfort

Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride

What Owners Say

"The seats are becoming uncomfortable after 13 years"

DAVID P., DE (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The heated leather electric seats are exceedingly comfortable with unlimited adjustments. This is the quietest car I've ever owned in terms of freeway driving. This car handles almost as well as my BMW. I'm also surprised this vehicle has lasted so long with such excellent performance."

PAUL W., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"If provides great back and lumbar support."

R W., TN (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"This is a great car, but parts are getting harder and harder to find, and when they are found are often expensive."

JEFFREY S., MA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The leather power seats in the Passat are very comfortable and adjust in a multitude of ways. The manual lumbar support is appreciated. Climatronic automated climate control works flawlessly. I set it at 68 and never need to adjust it summer or winter. Interior is quiet and ride is very comfortable."

WILLIAM M., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"I've always thought there was too much road noise."

Anonymous, GA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The driver and passanger seats are somewhat uncomfortable on long drives. Wrong tilt of the pelvis."

Anonymous, CO (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"A wire burned through the heated seat, and MFG refused to replace at recall, and later when it was a problem, refused to repair."

ALLEN S., MI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Seats are very comfortable, but problem w/ heated seat burning through leather surface and burning my wife's leg was very disconcerting. VW replaced free of charge - probably to avoid legal action. Long-term complain is the lack of storage in the interior - console bin, door map pockets, and glove box don't hold much. Cup holders are too short to be very practical."

ERIC S., NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Very comfortable, and easy to adjust."

Anonymous, ME (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"nice smoothe ride"

Anonymous, MI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The best car I have ever owned. When new could get 35 miles to the gallon on the highway. Solid well built car. Fun to drive."

Mary U., RI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Leather five way bucket seats are still amazing, and the memory seat feature makes one touch return to presets a breeze, when someone else has adjusted from my optimal settings. The repositioning feature with the side mirrors make curb avoidance a dream when shifting into reverse. The defrosters in the wing mirrors is magic in the winter. The rear-seat Skis pass through a dream when you don't want to take the time to mount the roof rack. all in all well done."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Many rattles in dashboard and door joints"

Marcel F., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It is quiet. That is important to me"

Anonymous, CT (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Comfy seats. Little to no fatigue on long drives. Quiet engine, plenty of power."

John H., CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It is very comfortable and silent, both qualities much appreciated in long drives."

Andre L., QC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"It has a very soft, comfortable ride. Over the years the seats are starting to bottom out now, but I suspect that would be true of the foam in any car that's well over 10 years old."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"5 speed manual. great ride. as quiet or nearly as quiet as many 16 and 17 vehicles. really. seat heaters still work. although leather is worn, support in driver's seat remains pretty good."

David V., NC (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"When I test drove this car I immediately noticed that it fit my body perfectly."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

Value

Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?

What Owners Say

"The car is currently 13 years old and running excellent. No major service needed."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"This is a very solid car that has had minimal issues over its long life - 13 years"

Anonymous, PA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The car has been extremely reliable , just brakes and oil changes. Great comfortable ride, good excelleration merging with highway traffic."

GREG Q., ON (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"This is my wife's car. We have owned this car for 14 years, and have only needed to do routine maintenance. There is about 40,000 miles on the car and not a bit of rust to be found. We live near Lake Superior, and winters can be very extreme - both in snowfall and temperature. The car has been very dependable as far as starting and winter handling."

KENNETH F., WI (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"cost about 23,500 new. 1.8T is mechanically the same as an Audi A4, but at a much lower price.it's lasted 13 years and 126,000 miles,so great value. But, wouldn't recommend buying it now at this age and mileage level - it has the usual age-appropriate issues, plus ABS no longer works."

Anonymous, OH (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Great performance and fun car when purchased."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Great value"

Anonymous, IA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The car was great for about 10 years. Now it just seems to be falling apart."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Great looking and handling car."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

Styling

How it looks inside and out

What Owners Say

"Attractive body styling; roomy both in back & front; comfortable on long trips; good visibility"

Anonymous, MD (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Great blue paint. Nice looking car. Great inetrior."

JEFFREY S., MA (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"The style allows good visibility all around, unlike many more recent body designs."

ELISE R., MD (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

"Sadly VW has eliminated the Passat Sportwagen from it's stable. This was a great car, enormously functional, sized to fit 4-5 people easily plus great cargo space."

LORI S., OH (2003 Volkswagen Passat)

Would you buy this car again?

2003 vehicles
Acura TL
BMW 5 Series
Honda Accord
Lexus ES
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat
Percentage of owners who would definitely purchase that same vehicle again. Owner-satisfaction Ratings are determined by the percentage of those who answered "definitely yes" to the question asked by the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey "Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.), would you get this car if you had to do it all over again?". If we don’t have sufficient data, a similar model might be used to form the owner-satisfaction score.
Change Vehicle