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VW Passat Wagon vs Subaru Wagons

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  • barresa62barresa62 Posts: 1,379
    Subaru's have frameless glass in their doors so slamming them (especially with the windows down) is going to sound less vault-like. Don't mistake this for questionable build-quality or being a "tin can". Soobs are built every bit as well and more reliable than VW's. This is a fact backed up by more than a few year-by-year studies.
    The Passat is still a fine car, just want to make sure Subaru gets a fair shake in the comparo. :-)

    Stephen
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    The Legacy,Forrester and Outback are good vehicles but according to JD Power for the year 2000 the Passat was rated at 108th out of 191 vehicles surveyed. The Legacy,Forrester and Outback were rated 148th,157th and 172th respectively. Both VW's and Suburus are made well enough to provide most of the buyers of these vehicles with years of near trouble free operation. Forget about saying one is better than the other. Drive them and compare them and and buy the one you like the best. I test drove a few different cars and I just have a bias towards German cars. I have nothing against Japanese cars but I just prefer German cars by a wide margin. Based on the experiences of people I know, Japanese cars are no more reliable than their German counterparts. Bring American cars into the mix and that's whole different discussion all together!!
  • vwguildvwguild Posts: 1,620
    Frameless glass went away with with the 2000 Neon...
  • ob11ob11 Posts: 28
    I had the same dilemma. I opted for the Outback for a number of reasons. VW reliability scares me, and I don't think initial quality surveys translate into long term reliability. Ground clearance is really appreciated when you have to jump a curb at a crowded event without enough paved parking. In the end I think that the Subaru is probably the lesser refined of the two, and the least technologically advanced. It won't win a race with a Passat or turn as many heads. However I have a feeling that the simplicity of the design and the more purpose-built construction will keep it out of the repair shop and on the road with less maintenance and repair problems and costs. Remember everything usually has a cost, it just depends what you want. They both appear to be good vehicles. Good luck with your decision.
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    My view of reliability differs from frapzoid. The JD Powers survey looks at initial build quality which primarily views how well the assembly plants and the dealers did to prevent or repair manufacturing defects. Reliability is about the design of the vehicle for a long trouble free life. Statistically, the Japanese, particularly Toyota, Honda and Subaru still maintain a solid lead in that department as opposed particularly to American companies. European brands generally are somewhere in between, but VW long term reliability figures across all the platforms has not been that good. My data is from the CU long term data.

    That is just statistics though. You can get a good car or a bad car from any manufacturer, but from my experience, design flaws will almost always show up if you keep a car long enough.

    Mike
  • barresa62barresa62 Posts: 1,379
    vwguild: Not sure what your comment is suppose to achieve...??? I personally like the frameless glass, especially when the windows are completely down and I'm exiting or entering the car. Much easier.

    Mike: Good point. One can get a bad car from any mfg. The data just helps the decision making process and is only one of many criteria for most folks.

    Stephen
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    I have owned 4 VW's and one BMW. Still have 2 VW's and the Beemer. My 91 GTI has 208k miles on it and all I have ever done is an oil change now and then and a few belts and brake pads. This car was not rated very high by Consumer Report. Yet it's more trouble free than any Japanese car my friends have owned... Of course they are baffled by this phenomenal piece of machinery assembled in Mexico. It's on the original clutch and I commute in the San Francisco Bay Area (62 miles) which is not kind to cars from any part of the world. The only car I had trouble with is a 1975 Rabbit. The other cars I have owned have been trouble free. People I know who own VW's are find this VW reliability problem foreign to them with the exception of my neighbor who has had some minor problems with his 97 Passat wagon. Everybody else I know or customers I know have raved about their Passats and would buy another one in the future. Suburu owners were equally happy with their cars. By the way... the people I know who love to drive buy German cars. The people I know who buy Japanese cars
    just like going from point A to point B with an assumption that their car is more reliable. Buy the car you you like the best. You can repair a car that's more fun to drive but you can't make a trouble free car into something it's not. That's how I made my decision... Buy the car you like the best...If that's a Subie... go for it.
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    My experience is that Japanese cars are generally more reliable. Especialy my Honda I owned which had NO unscheduled repairs. My Audi that I own now had numerous problems (and the parts are grossly expensive also). My Corrado had the whole gearbox replaced and some electrical problems. I think VW/Audi have a way to go before they reach the level of a typical Honda.

    BTW: In Canada, Subaru has one of the highest loyalty ratings from the CAA. Over 90% of Subaru owners will buy a Subaru again. I don't think they would achieve that rating if they weren't reliable. Consumer Reports rates Subaru above average for reliability.
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    "By the way... the people I know who love to drive buy German cars. "

    Japan churns out some of the most focused drivers' cars on the planet. Honda, Mazda and Toyota currently make the most focused roadsters you can buy (compared to BMW Z3, Audi TT, Mercedes SLK which are more just highway cruisers than raw sportscars). Meanwhile, all current VW's have suspensions that are an insult to the original GTI's (read: way too compliant/sloppy feeling). And cars like the Subaru WRX handle better and accelerate faster than cars from BMW and Audi costing 40% more (in the last S4/330xi/WRX shootout in Car and Driver magazine) I own both an Audi A4 and WRX so I can attest to that. The Lexus IS300 is a sharper handling car than BMW 3 series for less money (and yes, I've driven both and can attest to that also)

    Anyway, generalization about German and Japanese cars is not very useful for this topic, especially statements that *imply* that real drivers only buy German.
  • vwguildvwguild Posts: 1,620
    glass is the cornerstone of thrifty manufacturing...The
    constant & continuing opening and closing of the
    Driver's door that is frameless, will turn it into
    a shuddering, rattling, windy portal...
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    I believe what I said was "the people I know who love to drive buy German cars." That statement was based on the people I know. It's not so much a generalization so much as it is a statement of fact. There is nothing scientific about my sampling of opinions relative to the world at large. This was based on the opinions of people I know who own German and Japanese cars. My statement was based on what THEY said to me and I was merely passing on what was said to me. If you thought that I was insulting Suburus or the people who drive them then you were mistaken. I actually thought high enough of the Suburus to test drive them. It came down to the fact that the Passat V6 FWD was the better car for my tastes. Obviously the Suburu fit into your plans better than the Passat. Perhaps if I lived in the frozen tundra I would have been in need of AWD. But unfortunately I live in sunny California and snow doesn't enter the equation in my immediate area. But then if I did then a Passsat 4 Motion
    would do the trick. The past few posts I have said to buy what you like the best. Test drive then buy what floats your boat. I found your post to be enlightening and informative and I do that you for that. I will be waiting for your response with bated breath. Hear from you soon eh?
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    Enjoy your drive!
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    I think these two cars are quite different. For one thing: the Passat is just a bit sportier than the Outback (any variant) just because the Outback is a bit more rugged (more ground clearance) and is tuned for more rough stuff. It's VDC package will get the Outback out of any situation (less likely to get stuck in snow/mud than Passat's 4Motion/Quattro). And of course, looks, the Outback looks almost like an SUV, while the Passat is just a rather conservative in comparison.

    On the reliability department, I believe the Subaru will have it all over the VW. This is just based on personal experience with VW's and long term reliability ratings (CAA, Edmunds and CR). I still hear horror stories from my old VW circle about some of the problems that current VW owners have to deal with. With Subaru, much less.

    Personally, I'd take the V6 4Motion Passat over the Outback H6 VDC from a purely driving point of view AND lease it so that I don't have to deal with potential reliability concerns down the road. If I were to keep a car for the long term, a base (but well equipped) Legacy GT wagon would be the ticket over the 1.8T Passat wagon. I think that drives/looks great and is more bang for the buck.
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Warpdrive -- I could not agree more. If you want a car to last 10 trouble free years the VW is probably not the way to go. If however you know that you are going to sell before the warranty period is up you are going to have more fun with the VW.

    The trick is to know yourself and whether as much as you love the car now you are going to keep it a long time.

    Edmunds posted an article earlier this year analyzing the financial wisdom of buying new, leasing or buying used.

    Financially - taking all costs into consideration, buying used cost the least, then buying new, then leasing.

    The best situation is to get to a point where you own a trouble free car, no monthly payments, and little in the way of maintenance costs.

    I have not had a payment on my 1992 Honda Prelude for 5 years. It has had no costs beyond gas and scheduled service for 10 years. I am convinced it could go another 5 years no problem. Looks great, no rust. Drives great -- still fun. Only problem is that as a 2 seater it is no longer size appropriate for my wife and I.

    I am looking to repeat this with a little more spacious sporty wagon. I love the way the VW drives but I think I have a better chance at this with a Subaru Outback wagon.
  • ob11ob11 Posts: 28
    Gee, over three hundred posts on the VW Passat nee Audi B5 topic in the maintenance and repair board. Must be that German Engineering (or is that Farfagnuegen) kicking in...
  • ::rolls eyes::

    Nobody goes to a Maintenance and Repair board to talk about how their car ISN'T malfunctioning.

    Consumer Reports LOVES the Passat, btw. Any time they talk about cars they gloat about the Passat.

    I helped a friend buy a new car. We looked at the Volvo V70 XC, the Subaru Outback VDC, and the Volkswagen Passat 4Motion.

    The heinously over-priced Volvo was quickly thrown out. The VDC was OK. The interior felt really cheap and the seats were so-so. The exterior design looked a little too American. The handling and ride were fine.

    However, the Passat 4Motion stood out for its use of high-grade materials and ergonomics in the interior, supportive seats (she has been through multiple plane crashes and thus has an extremely sensitive back), and sharp design, as well as more usable cargo space and more safety features (and features in general). It also outhandled and outrode the Subaru, in our experience.

    Not to knock Subarus, but they aren't exactly known for making good-looking vehicles. The WRX is an incredible performer which is masked behind a car which looks like an angry Neon rear-ended by an IS 300 sportcross. Yuck.

    Considering the Passat gets above-average reliability ratings, the choice was pretty clear to us. She's the happy owner of a Passat, has had it 9 months now without trouble, and still raves about it every time I talk to her.
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    If you read recent CR ratings charts, the VW Passat have plunged in the reliability ratings compared to initial reports.

    FWIW, I own a 97 A4 (cousin of Passat) and based on that experience, it doesn't approach the reliability of any of the various Hondas/Mazdas that I've owned (not to mention that parts are hideously expensive).
  • "If you read recent CR ratings charts, the VW Passat have plunged in the reliability ratings compared to initial reports"

    If you go to CR site (and are a subscriber) the current reliabilty ratings ('00) are even better than the the previous years - all 'red' solid or half filled circles, no open or black circles.

    As for the whole reliability issue, yes historically Subarus have been better than VW's. But when people talk about Passats being "worse" they make it seem as if every other Passat being sold is a lemon! If that were the case, you would certainly hear about in the news and it wouldn't be getting the praise from all the reviewers (including those that host this site). Yes there will be a small percentage that will have problems -- every make will have them. Case in point my 2 year old Passat has been great, with no problems (knock on wood). This is in contrast to my '94 Honda accord that has recurrent problems with HVAC and electrical systems.

    I'll get off my soap box now...thanks for hearing me out.

    George
  • After getting interest in the WRX, I decided to test other AWD station wagons to see how they compared. Today, I drove first an A4 Sedan and then an S4 Wagon at an Audi dealership and then went down the street and tested the Passat 4motion wagon.

    I chose a country road that had some twisty sections and was surprised at how poorly controlled the ride, handling and steering of the Passat was in comparison to the Audis and my recollection of the WRX.

    I "controlled" these rides by driving my current car (a Ford Focus sedan) along the same route. Its steering, handling and ride seemed better than the Passat but clearly inferior to the others.

    I was kind of surprised by this since I thought the same engineering approach was used in both Audis and VWs. The salesman mentioned that the Passat doesn't have an optional sport suspension.

    Steve
  • That's strange. We own a 2000 A4 Avant (soon to be a 2002 A4 Avant) but I've driven the Passat before and it felt very similar (and good!), if not a little bit less "sporty". Keep in mind both the A4, Focus, and WRX are all compacts and the Passat is a midsize.
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    ...have gone soft. They are a far cry from the original Rabbit GTI's of the eighties. Even the sportiest Golf GTI these days is tuned toward comfort and quite a bit more compliant than the versions offered in Europe. This is partly because of VW's perception of American's desire for soft riding cars (and unfortunately confirmed by the marketplace since VW's are now selling well compared to before). The A4 is a smaller car and even the base model is tuned toward more sportiness than the Passat. The Passat has very little sportiness tuned into the suspension (in fact, I would say it's about equivalent to a typical Accord) due to its family car pretensions. I owned arguably the sportiest VW of the 90's, a 1993 Corrado VR6. And even that car was very loose feeling in the corners when you push it past 8/10's. It's so unfortunate, because now VW has the engines that mean business (Audi's 30 valve V6 used in the Passat, 1.8T 180HP, and the venerable VR6). The other problem with the Passat is the steering, the lack of steering feel (numbness) is a consequence of too much power assist. This is partly due to the advanced four-link design. I haven't driven the latest A4 but I hope they have addressed this common complaint for the new A4 and next gen Passat. The steering *is* precuse but not sporty feeling.

    One thing to watch out for is the bushings in the Passats. My 97 A4 uses the same suspension setup and because the bushings are not serviceable, it can mean a costly replacement down the road. Next month I am replacing both the lower control arms, straight arms, bushings, C-links due to a worn bushing. It was supposed to be a $2000.00 (Cdn) repair, but after I complained to Audi about the poor design (and the fact that this is a common complaint), they are willing to do it for $1100.00. They claim that this is not that unusual (my car only has 45000 miles on it). Newer Passats may not have this problem anymore but I'd be wary of it (supposedly, the bushing material has been revised 5 times from what I hear on Audiworld so you figure they MUST have resolved it by now).

    Anyway, as I said, the only way I'd buy another VW/Audi is if I leased it and got rid of it after 4 years. Four years of free maintenance with Audis and then the after warranty repairs is someone else's problem.
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    You have issues that need to be addressed. Professional help might be indicated here. This time of the year it's really cold up there in the frozen tundra and you have too much time on your hands. The other scenario could be that you really are a Suburu dealer. In earlier posts I haven't put down Suburu cars but that could change soon. Getting back to some of the people I know, the Passat wins 2 to 1 as far as the car that exudes quality. The Subaru is a nice machine but is as ugly as a car can be. The Passat is not the best looking car on the road either but at least I'm not ashamed of driving it on the public streets. They really need to do something about the looks of all the Subarus. Yes I do have some minor quibbles with Subaru. I don't think they drive as well as the Passat but I admit that my complaints with the Outback et al happen to be subjective. I have never been crazy about Japanese cars but if they still made a Camry wagon I would be somewhat interested. But they don't and I'm not...CR still likes the Passat slightly more than the Camry. The Passat is one of the 5 safest cars ever(per insurance.com). Let's be honest here... The Subarus are butt-ugly and look small. But hey... just my opinion. Like a very wise person said on this post a while ago " drive them both and buy the one you like the best". Buying any car is a crap shoot. Buy the one you like and don't let anybody change your mind for you.
  • "..'drive them both and buy the one you like the best'. Buying any car is a crap shoot. Buy the one you like and don't let anybody change your mind for you."

    Well said....
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    Excuse me, but I have issues??
    I'm sorry, but my opinion is very bit as valid. Your defense is that Subaru's are ugly? You said "I'm ashamed of driving it in public"???? Who's the one with issues? Insecurity is something that can be addressed for $200/hr at my local clinic.

    Reality check here.

    I am being fair. These are my opinions. If you don't agree with them, fine. But I do *own* an Audi, and I've owned it for five years. I am speaking for my experience as a former VW fan (yes, I owned a Corrado). I've driven VW products for the last nine years, is that not sufficient enough for me to comment on reliability and the way they drive????? Suspensions in VW are tuned toward too much comfort. Is that not a valid statement? I'm sorry, but just about every magazine comments on that and agrees with me.

    Bushings in my car require a $2000.00 job after 45000 miles. Check NHTSA database and Audiworld. Premature control arm replacement is a known fact. How is that for superior German engineering? If you don't want to listen to the facts, that's fine, ignore me and you don't have to read my posts.
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    #1--- You are forgiven...#2---everybody's opinions are valid if they are based on personal experience...#3---it is MY opinion that the Subarus are less than pleasing to the eye. If you think they are beautiful then more power to you. Not sure why you question why I wouldn't be ashamed to drive a Subaru. Since I would be, then it's a statement of fact. How does one question that? Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. #4---The Reliability issue---I have had very good luck with the other 3 VW's I have owned. My GTI with 208K miles has given me trouble free operation. You have warned me about how unreliable Passats are and I do thank you for that. I am hoping it will fair better than your forecast reveals. Friends and clients of mine who have Subarus have had more maintenance issues with their cars than I have had with my GTI. However their cars have been otherwise reliable based on the average car. If somebody asked me about a good Japanese car then the Subaru name would roll off the tongue effortlessly. If I had trouble with my other VW's then I never would have gotten my GTI or my 2002 Passat wagon...#5 The Bushing Incident---The Bushing problem was addressed in previous releases of Audi/VW...#6 Soft Suspension---When I was 18 I wanted to feel each and every little bump in the road. Now I'm older and I do want a softer ride. A friend of mine has a Passat sedan with sport springs and low profile tires. Perhaps his car has the feel for the road you desire. Yes his car is a lot more fun to drive on the twisty roads of California. But I prefer mine on the highway. Just like I modified my 3 series BMW,I could do the same to my Passat if I really felt the need to do so. Plenty of aftermarket companies like Neuspeed and Eibach offer sport springs for the Passat. You can even get the Eibach sport springs at the VW dealer. By the way, have you ever been in a Mercedes or a 5 or 7 series BMW? Did you think they were too soft also? I don't drive my BMW much anymore because it's a little too stiff for my tastes now. The mods I made make it even more bone jarring but damned if it doesn't stick to the road like it's on rails with NO body roll at all!!! LOL

    Summation: I can alter my car and make it handle with less body roll and more feel for the road. But at this stage of my life I opted for a smoother ride and I still have a decent looking car. Not the best looking car on the road but one I don't mind being seen in. I could have bought a Subaru and softened the ride a little bit and added a few touches but I would still have a car that I'm not crazy about the looks of. I prefer the looks of the Passat and I could change a few things to make it ride stiffer. When I bought the Passat I felt the same way as when I bought my BMW. Needed a break from the econobox look. Your Subaru is a fine car but the looks just reminded me of an econobox. I'm not saying that is good or bad---just not the look I wanted at this time. Wouldn't it be ironic if down the road if you had more problems with you Subaru than I have with my Passat? But then we'll never know. I don't think you would post any negative results. Just for the record... The Passat wasn't my first choice. I wanted a BMW wagon but don't care much for the local BMW service department. I have had less trouble with the various VW service departments.

    A client of mine who runs an insurance company told me that the 2002 Passat is a safer car than other cars like Camry, Honda and Subaru. I drive a lot of highway miles so that was important to me. The Subarus and Camry are also very good for safety.

    As per usual I will be waiting for your pointed response with the usual bated breath...

    Reality Check: You take this stuff too seriously and too personally. You can't even tell when somebody is messing with you so lighten up!!! :-)
    Happy Motoring and good luck with your Subie.
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Posts: 127
    Warp...You say "If you don't want to listen to the facts,that's fine, ignore me and you don't have to read my posts." Not read your posts? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!! We must seek out entertainment wherever we can find it!! Just kidding. Just messing with you again. Have a good day and enjoy the car.
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    When I had the Corrado, I was suprised how much body roll there was, and floatiness there was in hard charging. It actually body rolled more than my other car at the time, a Protege LS. The first thing I did was to some progressive Neuspeed sport springs. Much better, but the limited travel of VW suspension, combined with 3/4" lower ride height meant that it bottomed out every once in a while. When I refer to soft suspensions, I really MOSTLY talking about the sportiest VW's, namely the GTI Golfs and Jettas with the hot engines. I'm still surprised that VW softens up the suspensions as much as they do for their sportiest variants. Actually, I do agree with you, the Passat is fine as is. The Audi A4 used to be too soft but they've firmed it up a bit to more mirror what you get in BMW's (but BMW still has achieved that magical sportiness/comfort balance way better than VW has come up with)

    I never claimed that Subarus are beautiful. But I'm certainly don't really care what other people think about my bullfrog looking WRX. I actually like it, and you can't claim my tastes are that bad, I like the looks of VW's/Audi's and BMW's also (especially cars like the A6 and 3 series)

    As for unreliability, I firmly believe, based on my experience and other people's, that VW's are still less reliable than some other brands. The difference may be small and a crapshoot, but on average, the number of people I know that have bad experiences with VW's exceed those with Toyotas by a large margin. Given that they do produce some wonderful driving cars, I tell people that you have to take some good with the bad when you choose a VW and that you may be faced with more frequent and expensive repairs than say a Honda. My own personal experience with VW's show this, and it's fair to say that those expecting Honda appliance reliability may be disappointed.
  • boys, boys. the y chromosome is really kicking in here.
    so really now, what's more important, how much time a car spends in the shop or what it looks like, given a choice? i guess the choice depends on what's most important to you and how much $ you have. i'd take the repair-free car anyday.
  • nowakj66nowakj66 Posts: 709
    Looking back here -- did not mean to spark off WW3 between Warp Drive and frapzoid on reliability issues.

    I do think informed decision making is the best variety.

    As long as folks know going in what each brand's reputation is for reliability and driving fun, then they can make an informed decision.

    Whoever it was who said the WRX sport wagon looks like a Dodge Neon rear ended by a Lexus IS300 Sport wagon had me rolling over here! And that is the car I hope to buy very soon!

    In fact I like that description so much that when I am greeted with the next blank stare when I name the car, that is how I will described it!

    Bullfrog is a nice description too!

    LOL
  • WarpDriveWarpDrive Posts: 506
    I prefer to think of the WRX wagon looking like a shrunken Mercedes E-class wagon myself :) Some people may be ashamed about its looks, but I like it's a funky design.

    I have utmost respect for all German cars, but my opinion of their reliability has gone down due to first hand experience. The one thing German cars will always have is that they are foremost a premium driving/ownership experience. You can tell that they put a lot of love into their designs, I think sometimes they go overboard but that's because they are designed by engineers, not brand-managers. Reliability aside, I'd be happy to own any of the current crop of VW's/BMW's/Mercs/Audis. There are lots of Japanese cars that bore me to death, but thankfully, ever Janpanese brand has their share of high-desirables: like the WRX, IS300, S2000, Miatas, GS400 etc, all cars that break the mold of Japanese appliances that most of North America like to buy, cars that were designed with the more enthusiast oriented market.
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