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VW Passat Wagon vs Subaru Wagons



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Gotcha, but following that very theory, fuel costs on the Forester would be less, as I had originally stated.

    Remember, 35k miles per year. I'm talking about this specific buyer. That's triple the difference compared to the average 12k/year driver.

  • I'm looking now at exactly the same mix if vehicles. I drive an (old school) Toyota Landcruiser now. A new job with a longer commute and family changes require a car bigger than my wife's accord that can take long trips. A 20 mile commute in a troop carrier getting 12 mpg is not working.

    On paper the Highlander looks like the best, but I just can't get excited about it. I just seems very blah to me. The Sub and the VW both seem to have some personality. I can't define what I mean by that and I'm not saying it's logical, but logic is not the most important thing in the world.

    We also looked at an XC. Of all the cars, I like that the best, but their reliability record has been spotty at best. Check out the XC posts and you'll find several posts about chronic electrical problems.

    So we can't settle on anything now. Any thoughts?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Don't buy anything until you find something that you are excited about. No matter what. If you don't like it much now, you'll hate it 5 years from now.

    Having said that, wait and check out the 2003 Forester, which arrives next month in dealers. I was impressed, just saw it at the NY Auto Show.

    It's 90 lbs lighter, even more fuel efficient, uses aluminum on the hood and on some suspension and bumper parts, gets more standard equipment, better materials, bigger standard wheels, and a turbo option in 2004. Imagine 217hp in such a light vehicle.

    If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, I don't know what would. WRX wagon? ;-)

  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    Hope Warp and I got the fuel requirements of the Passat straight for you...

    Yes I do have some negatives about my Passat!!!!!
    The tach is on my left side and it's on the right side on my BMW and my GTI. Man it was confusing until I got used to it being on that side.
    Because the engine is so darned quiet I actually have to look at the tach on the Passat. My other 2 cars let me know when it's time to shift because of the engine noise. I wish the leather wrapped steering wheel had finger grips. I hate daylight driving lights!!!! I have to turn on the dash lights sooner in the Passat than I do in my other 2 cars also. In light of these rather minor quibbles I still love the Passat. So there!! Yes, to date these are the only things I don't like about my car...
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    Um... did I miss the part about you saying anything negative about your car? I must have missed that part ;-)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Actually, you did miss it, I had mentioned the cramped rear quarters were the achilles' heel.

    I'd have some suggestions for VW, to improve on an already good vehicle.

    First, drop the chrome. The face-lift actually made it look worse. I guess they were preparing for the $40k price range W8 4Motion models, but it looks like a kid with braces. The previous design was cleaner and didn't need updating.

    Purple lighting? Barney the dinosaur is purple. That's subjective, but it's more at home in a Beetle or GTI than a grown up Passat.

    Standard rims are 15"? C'mon, I thought Honda under-tired their cars. Especially with the boosted 1.8T, it should have at least 16" rims with lower profile tires, and standard.

    BTW, my Forester had 15s and I did a Plus One, so that can certainly be addressed. The 2003 Forester gets 16" wheels standard, though.

    I liked the 1.8T 5-speed I sampled more than the V6 Tiptronic, it's odd. The auto tranny is slow to shift, and the V6 seems to make its power in the higher rev ranges. Plus, no 4Motion with the 1.8T on the Passat, you'd have to get an A4.

    Likes? It's very roomy. Structure is tight as a drum, over-engineered, if you will. Quality of materials is easily a notch above any of its competitors, maybe two. Reliability used to be a sore spot but even that has improved to acceptable levels.

  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    Well it seems you only have one thing you don't like about your car? Hmmmm.... ok.... :-)
    I bet I like my car as much as you like yours and that's how it should be.

    The only chrome I don't like on the Passat is the chrome on the grill. It looks ok on silver and red Passats but not on the other colors in particular the black ones. My car is silver. I have chrome on my BMW so I'm not against chrome. The colors on the dash lights are strange but don't bother me. Wish it was orange like my BMW.

    I liked the 1.8 with stick but REALLY liked V6 with stick and that's what I got. Passat owners who have the 1.8 with Tiptronic say to me that the Passats with V6 are way too heavy. Curiously the Passat wagon with V6 and stick is actually lighter than the 1.8 Tiptronic combination. Auto trannies add a lot of weight. (Got the numbers from VW's website)

    I test drove an Outback 3 years ago so I really don't remember details. All I can remember is that it seemed to be well built car. As you can tell I'm really not a fan of Japanese cars. I understand that a lot of people love them and that's all well and good. But if I had to choose between Japanese or American, I'd have to go with the Rising Sun every time. I test drove a Camry 6 months ago and decided that I would only consider a Volvo, Audi, BMW or VW. Plus Camry doesn't make a wagon anymore. Ever since the first Toyota Corolla arrived in the 60's I have been bewildered by the styling of Japanese cars. Images of designers sipping Sake as they create come to mind. But that's why they make chocolate and vanilla. Different strokes for different folks.

    My personal experience with VW reliability is positive. My Passat is the 4th VW I have bought and if I thought they were not reliable I never would have bought the second one. According to VW bashers, VW have trouble with the electrical system. Funny thing is I have never had such problems with my VW's. It's ironic but the only car I have owned that has had electrical problems is my BMW and that was just the horn.

    You should check the long term road test on Edmunds for a 1999 Passat...Even the hard to please CR says that the 2000 and 2001 Passats are reliable used cars. I'm not worried in the least bit about the reliabilty of my Passat... I still have 2 other cars in my stable...

    Juice, if I'm not mistaken you said a few posts ago something about safety? Yes I would say that the Subarus are safe but they don't offer head protection air bags. That would make them even more safe. BTW Passats do have head protection air bags- standard.

    Blurring the lines---- don't some cars that some people refer to as station wagons really look more like hatchbacks? Some cars in question are no more a station wagon than my GTI. Make no mistake about it... My GTI is a hatchback... nothing more...nothing less... So what's the difference between a wagon and a hatchback?

    Juice and Warp... enjoy your Subarus
    Juice, you live in Brazil?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Probably does look best in silver, most German cars do.

    I sampled a 1.8T/manual on a test drive an liked it, the cloth heated seats too. Then a V6 Tiptronic sedan at Edmunds Live, which had sort of firm leather seats. That's OK, the Forester has firm seats too and it pays off in the long run. Also drove my buddy's 1.8T Tip wagon, now that was slow (heavy?). Finally, at the Mercedes Power Trip I sampled an A4 with that V6 (the old model), but that too was auto. I bet a manual is better suited to that engine's power band.

    Most Japanese cars don't have character, but Subaru is the exception. Boxer engines, not unlike...VW and Porsche, plus BMW motorcycles. They sound and feel distinct. I wish you had sampled the sportier Legacy GT.

    Head protection air bags are a nice bonus, but I'd say it goes with the pricing territory. Subies have done well in side crash tests even without them. Still, that may help justify the higher price if you want a Passat.

    I'm from Brazil but live in Washington, DC. BTW, your Golf may have been made in Brazil, many Jettas, too. Mini Cooper engines are also made in Brazil.

    What is a wagon? Usually I say if it has a D-pillar and the roof stretches beyong the C-pillar, it's a wagon. But even that rule isn't set in stone.

  • pvonhaampvonhaam Posts: 4
    After months of test drives and debates, we picked the Subaru Legacy GT Wagon over the Passat 1.8T Wagon. The Passat won in looks and internal design, as well as acceleration off the line (which is very impressive in the 5-speed manual). However, we had a hard time finding a manual trans. model with the alloys and roof, but not the leather. (Doesn't it stink that it's getting so hard to find manual transmissions?)

    In the end, we chose Subaru for the reliability, the handling, and the AWD. Although I recognize VW has made strides in improving their long-term reliability, I just didn't feel confident the car would perform trouble-free in the 60K-120K mile range. I want my cars to get to 150K miles with no major problems (which my Nissans have done), and perhaps the kicker was up at Mammoth Mtn., Calif, I saw a bunch of really old Subarus driving around. That's a good sign. Can't say the same thing about the Passat. Time will tell, I suppose.

    After testing both the Outback and GT, we chose the GT b/c it has the sunroof and some other luxury items. It also looks better to me (esp. in green) than the Outback. Decided the extra inch or so of clearance wasn't that important. The handling on the GT is impressive, and with the 5-speed manual, it has enough power; you just have to let the rpm's get a little higher to get the full torque.

    I think the Passat is a fabulous car, and if I was looking at a lease, I'd probably go with it. But for a long-term buy situation, I felt the Subie was the better bet. Having the AWD is a nice bonus, too.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's hard to find a GT, period. Outbacks outnumber all other Legacys combined by 3 to 1, and most of those are L models.

    The GT is monotone, it's quicker because it's geared 7% shorter, and it handles better with 55 series tires on 16" alloys. The 6.2" of clearance is still more than most cars, including the Passat.

    Congrats. It's the best kept secret in Subaru's lineup.

  • lets really compair these wagons. vw is made from steel, subaru from that coke can you just recycled.......end of story
  • I am a recent owner of a NICE Silver GLX 4-motion I leased it and traded in my 1997 Navy Blue Outback and GOOD RIDDENCE to that particular example of outback. I'll get to that later. I acquired my Passat Variant , which was nearly impossible to test drive at any of the THREE VW dealers in the South Jersey Area, especially to test the 4-Mo GLX Variant. I Test Drove everything from the 2001 Bravada, a Venture Minivan all loaded with extras, a Silver Highlander, a Toyota Previa (loaded), an Izuzu Axiom (geeze 16 different drive modes!!), and as a joke a BMW X-5 (V6 is way under powered for that monster), and an H6 Outback too see if there was an upside to the outback line. Let me say the Passat stole my heart, and as a lease/buy decision came my way it is an excellent leaser as well. I called around to the dealers after my month of test drives and found one with the Silver (I was going with Blue Silver but the wife kept singing 'it's baby blue'- so I dove at my manhood and went reflex silver) I foudn a nice Beige interior leather one in a few hours and then got it for 30950 which was great PLUS I got the trade in value of my 1997 Outback which was about 3000 over my payoff! which was amazing considering.
    Now the Outback had just a few miles over 60,000 since August of 1997 to June of 2001. I had troubles, consistant FACTORY defect type troubles starting two months after I started to own the car. The FIRST 'problem' was the boot joint grease used to pack the bearings was incorrect for the application and under NORMAL driving conditions the grease woudl tend to leak onto the wonderfully low hung boxer engine and for 4 months and 5 visits to the dealer they would wipes the grease off the engine and tell me it's fixed until the tech bulletin came and they had to clean out and repack the boots with the now correct and I assume more heat resistant grease. The burning smell still lingered for another month but there was nothign worse than being stuck in 1-2 hours of traffic in my 30 mile each way commute and have that burrning grease smell wafting through the cabin .
    That fixed I had the winderful luck of having my rear cargo webbing anchors sheer off the plastic screw at least twice within the first year( my mechanic Dean gave me a bag of them on the sly since the deal charged like 4 bucks for each anchor-plus he showed me how to fix it for the next time), and the rear cargo cover (poor design) also become unstitched on one side (I stitched the thing back on with similarly colored WIRE it's weird they have corner cover locks that don't connect to the bar which puts a lot of stress on essentially thread)
    I also had continual trouble from 1998-2001 with the remote I used most often, first the buttons lost their lettering in normal use, then the cover got real loose and this caused poor battery contact, it's a cheap alarm remote, I became a pro and pulling out my pocket tool and unscrewing it to reseat a recently replaced battery so I could unlock my car. Towards the end I switched to the one I gave my wife and it worked fine since it was barely used.
    Then there was the horrible automatic transmission gearing they did special for 1997 outbacks to give it that sporty feel. Yeah a lot of the time you would mash the accelerator down and second gear was nowhere and then a huge 'kick' in the pants as the vehicle would find a lot of power before switching smoothly (and don't think that wasn't reported during the whole burning smell phase). Then after performing solidly with only regular maintainence and I found I neede front break pads twice in 50000 miles. On my birthday in October of 2000 with about 53-55000 miles the alternator inexplicable went. The next day the battery ran out of juice and I had it towed. I knew it was the alternator soon after that and this was over 700 bucks to repair becuase the battery was pronounced DOA as well. I believe in Feb of 2001 I got a 2nd recall notice (the first being a hazzard light switch deal I never bother about) and this was for a potential problem with certian alternators.... well I had to submit for reinbursement. at about 56000 I notice a slight puff of white smoke coming out of the engine, no real smell and no apparent loss of oil or spotting on my garage, over the next 500 miles I started to smell burning oil on longer duration drives and actually witnessed smoke puffs , plus the car started to drop 3-6 Miles per gallon. I took it in for service.
    Here's the BOXER ENGINE advantage I had three problems:
    1. a wheel bearing on the front right was about to go. about 400 and change (low estimate)
    needed to be done.
    2. 2 oil leaks one on the vapor tray (bottom of the engine, forgot what part this relates to on a standard engine, like the oil pan ) and another on the oil pump.
    The kicker to get at the vapor tray they needed to sever the transmission and yank out the bottom half of the engine to repalce this gasket. To get around the oil pump the top half of the engine needed to come out. All told I was looking at hours of labor that I only felt a dealers service department could possibly handle , and I didn't have much confidence in troubel free operation after the transmission and engine were taken out in part and then reconnected just to replace about 20 bucks worth of gaskets that if a strip blew would drain out all the oil in short order... It was quoted as about 1500 bucks to fix.
    At that point I decided to cut my losses and in may of 2001 started shopping in ernest while making sure I didn't push the Loud 4 banger boxeer too hard. In the end the problem was really undetectable by the dealer inspection team at VW and I got a lot over what I owed and I got my VW.
    It's now about 10 months since I got my 2001.5 GLX and I've had a few minor problems and I have 1 real complaint coming from the subaru world near the North American Headquarters only a few miles away in Cherry Hill NJ.
    1. My glove box lock broke!! my wife simply opened it and it stripped and broke hanging open back in like November. I've been too busy to block out a day to have that fixed until thsi coming friday and it took only 2 weeks to get the parrt in!! It sucks to loose some of the limited space to a glove box lock and my 100MPH tape is ugly.
    2. There are two neato features of the GLX and some of the GLS packages. The side view mirrors defrost and power fold, mine also USED to when set to the R (for right mirror adjustment) position , angle the mirrors down when the car was in the reverse gear, they stopped doing this for no reason about a month ago ( I turned it off as well since I don't do a lot of parallel parking or trick parking and needed the mirrors for looking behind me and up not behind and down), Also the feature with the memory dirvers seat and the remotes , you're supposed to be able to set the two remotes to trigger a memory seat location so when say my wife's remote unlocked the doors the seat will configure to the memory location she se
  • which would be great IF I coudl get it to work. the salesman could get it working for me and I will have this addressed this friday as well.
    Now my gripe in comparison to the outback , the outback has a ton more personal cargo space/compartments. I ran out of room in my tiny center console for half the stuff my subaru stowed. I barely dented the space in the door pockets of my Outback that I now cram into the Passat. Also the Subaru has better space in the rear under floor area, AND the side cargoboxes as well. I keep a large first aid kit, compressor, some car on the spot cleaning gear , fix-a-flat, battery cables, flares, and some cargo compartment things like bungie cords , dividers for grocery sacks... The outback was able to stow most of it out of sight , I now take up like 20% of the bed of my Passat with this gear. I like storage space.
    As for the ride, the loud (highway noise was always a bear in the outback the radio would have to be cranked to hear decently, and the 1997 outback didn't have variable intermittent wipers except on Limiteds(they fixed this) )cabin of my Subaru is now the ultra quiet and well refined passat where I sometimes forget if I turned it on until I check the tach. The gear shifting in the passat is slow but I'm going to get an AWE Tip Chip to fix that to European standard .2 sec a shift down from 1 sec a shift. I liked the Outback AWD because of the way you were engine breaking every time you take a foot off the gas, it took strangers to a Subaru some timee to get used to. The Passat 4-motion is awe inspiring german telepathic mechanics, My wife drovee and I got to witness first hand when she took a fast 30 MPH turn off a road on a patch of dead wet leaves last november in the rain and we both FELT the awd kick in and make the car stay in the direction she intended even when the front wheels wanted to slip sideways to the right in the middle of her sharp left turn.
    My only wish for the 2.8 30V GLX is to get more than 190 horses which when I get my AWE ECU and aftermarket air filter I will see what I can do to getting 205-210 HP.

    In total mu outback suffered
    2 recalls 1 affected me directly
    2 common problems (false engine light after the temperature changed from below freezing one night to 60 degrees the oil bladder doohickey got stuck dan pushed it down and said it was like the 10th person he'd had that day. common problem) (Oil gaskets going, hey it's a Boxer engine, it happens)
    1 tech bulletin - the boot joint grease - I even looked up lemon laws because of this

    I was not a very satisfied Subaru customer even though both of the dealerships in my area treated me very well when they could , and I still get DRIVE magazine sent to my home and have had to invitations to see the IMAX subaru sponsored films at the Franklin Institute as a party guest. I secretly would love to collect a WRX because I like the idea of a normal looking car that can kick some butt. Then again I also want a 1996 Black Impala SS...
  • barresa62barresa62 Posts: 1,379
    experience but you're fortunately in the minority. Subarus rate consistently higher in reliability ratings overall than do Volkswagons.

    I am on my second Subaru and both have been good experiences for me.

    There are also some horrific ownership experiences out there for folks of Toyotas and Hondas, two makes whose success has been built on their reputations for reliability.

    Cars are built by humans and there are bound to be some lemons. It's the number of lemons vs the amount of said makes sold that is a telling sign.

    I'm glad you've had better experience with your Passat. :-)

  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    I could say the same about my babied Audi which I had more than my share of problems with. Everybody gets a lemon eventually.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,426
    Feel sorry for the person who bought that '97 Outback and had no clue about the problems with the engine!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Dear troll: actually, no, VW owned Audi uses aluminum bodies (like coke cans), and only in their top-line A8 models. It would be a dream to have an aluminum body at this price level.

    Now go away, troll.

    Harris: I'm glad to hear about the "amazing" resale value of your Outback. Congrats on the new Vee Dub.

    Despite all your problems, Subies are on average more reliable than Passats. So if you had bad luck with your Subie, similarly bad luck with the Passat would only be worse. Read the threads here on Edmunds; there are far more VW lemons than Subaru lemons.

    Pity you didn't come to the Subaru Crew threads, we could probably have helped you. We have an active SoA rep in the Crew, lots of events, and friendly members.

  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    Just when I thought that Juice and I had brought some civility back to this thread I encounter this barrage of malevolent verbiage in the most recent posts. Both sides come back to their usual mantras. It does make me think of those old Miller Lite commercials. Tastes great! Less filling! It goes back and forth. Subaru owners feeling smug about perceived reliability. Passat owners perception of owning the better car. Could it be that both sides might have some valid points? I had a friend take a look at the April issue of Consumer Report. After looking at it for 30 minutes or so he had this evaluation based what was in the magazine. Subaru was rated more reliable. Passat was rated as the better car and the safer car. My friend and his wife have a Lexus and a Benz so he doesn't have a thing against German cars or Japanese cars. Was there a lot of difference between the cars to really matter? I don't think so. Was there enough of a difference that grown men argue over dumb things that really don't matter? Hmmmm, I don't think so. Now if were were talking about High End Audio, then yes!!! LOL Expensive audio systems are my real passion, not cars. I spent almost as much on my home audio system as people spent on stripped down Outbacks or Passats. (Over 21K) I really don't expect to have any problems with my Passat but if something does happen, then I have the money to take car of it.

    I would hope that this thread would resume the apparent civility that I perceived of late. I know, I know--- Suburu devotees would never be caught dead driving much less buy a Passat and the same could be said of Passat aficionados. But come on fellas!!!

    If it does continue with the barrage of ill will then let me know so I can pop some popcorn and sit down at the computer and be entertained!!!!
    ;-) Be well my Volkswagen and Suburu friends...
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    ...would surely stir more debate. It's far more subjective that the best audio review makes the typical automotive review look like a scientific report. The industry is so full of snake-oil stories that stir even far greater debate. Everything from isolation pads to tweeter rings to directional cabling and biwiring has largely been a excercise in unprovable claims.

    Anyway, I share a passion for cars, driving them, and of course, we all probably spend too much time arguing their points. But this is a hobby and in the end, it doesn't matter whether I think my XXX is better than your YYY. But this is what we signed up for.
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    Over the last year, I have gotten involved with these forums to research cars, radar detectors, and car waxes. It seems to me that there is an amazing sense of brand loyalty with Subaru owners, with Valentine owners (detectors) and Zaino advocates (waxes), and just a little less with VW, Passport, and Klasse advocates. Any degrading comments on these brands like "it sucks", "blown away" or "no contest" become fighting words. Civility ends; it's really amusing to watch the instant degradation of a thread.

    This particular thread just asks for it by squaring two fine cars and their strong loyalties against each other. I would actually be afraid if I went over to the car maintenance forum and started a thread, "Zaino sucks, Klasse is better".
    Zaino guys make Subaru guys look like wimps in brand loyalty.

    It would be an interesting to study how this happens psychologically. I have no idea, but it is an interesting phenonoma.


    P.S. I was only kidding about Zaino; no personal emails please.
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