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VW Passat Wagon vs Subaru Wagons

OK. I've been very patient with VW. I've wanted to
drive the AWD Passat wagon with a 6 cylinder for a
long time (seems like they've been dangling it
just out of reach foreve)r. I gather we're looking
at early-to-mid-summer. That's about the same time
as the redesigned Outback.
Any thoughts about the relative merits?
BTW, I have almost always driven a standard shift,
and I hear that the Passat will not have a
standard with AWD. That's strike one, but Passat
seems to have a lot of good things going for it.

- Bill
Tagged:
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Comments

  • MiroMiro Posts: 15
    It's hard to say which one I would choose seeing that neither is available, nor reviewed by the mags. I wouldn't hold my breath with VW and since you want a stick Subaru would be your choice by default. I'd look at the GT (if you're looking for fun) or Outback (if you like the SUV concept.) Have some patience, because now we can only speculate.

    Miro,
    97 Legacy GT 5spd.
  • Bill:
    I will be considering the merits of these two cars. Where did you hear that the 2000 Passat wagon would not be available with both AWD and 5 speed manual transmission? I read something somewhere in the last couple weeks that might have implied that, but I haven't seen anything specific.

    I love the looks of the Passat and test driving a manual sedan version last week did nothing to eliminate it from consideration. But if they won't make the AWD in a 5 speed, that would make me the proud owner of a 2000 Subaru!
  • willywilly Posts: 2
    I can't remember offhand where I read or saw that; maybe in the brochure from the dealer. Interestingly, the Audi 2.8 Avant Quattro wagon comes with manual trans standard, so there's nothing about the technology that prevents it. Maybe (I hope) I was just imaging it.
    I was hoping to see the 2000 Subaru at the Baltimore Auto Show a few weeks ago, but they didn't have it. On the outside (from pictures I've seen on the Web), it looks practically identical... which is ok with me. The updated interior sounds like it's worth waiting for.

    - Bill
  • vwfan2vwfan2 Posts: 2
    I too would like the All Wheel drive Passat to show up sooner rather than later (proud owner of '95 GLX rocket ship). However, I drove the '99 Sedan w/the Tiptronic, which was very good. If the AWD came in the Tiptronic, I say, 'who needs the five speed...'
  • awolawol Posts: 1
    Some of you seemed to have missed the review of the AWD Passat V6 Tiptronic in the January 1999 Road & Track "Four-Season SPORTS WAGONS", pgs 76-91. Points of note: Curb weight-3600 lbs; 0-60 -9.0 sec.; EPA mileage 17/26 mpg; lateral acceleration-0.78g. They compared it to a (current) Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT, Audi A4 2.8 Quattro, and Volvo V79 R AWD. The liked the Passat alot, and enjoyed it handling, which is encouraging given the extra 400 lbs of the AWD over the FWD.
    Also, the October 1998 R&T new car issue stated the "1999" Passat AWD would not be available with the 1.8T. I have heard from Denver dealers and seen in print the the all Passat V6s would only have automatics, then my dealer got in a V6 sedan with a 5-speed manual! They didn't even know it would be available and speculated they might only see one per month. So much for accurary of VW press info (there's a surprise, right?).
    However, my bet is that there will not be any 1.8T AWD (given the vehicle weight) nor a manuals, just V6 Tiptronics given the EPA certification costs and VW's general character of only offering automatics in more loaded models of the Passat.
    Why not save yourself a few thousand bucks and a few hundred pounds and get an automatic with the traction control/electronic differential control for full 2-wheel drive, with some really good snow tires?
  • searoarsearoar Posts: 1
    Please read topic 149 for my troubles with a 99 Legacy Outback Al
  • jagat1jagat1 Posts: 31
    '00 VW Passat 4Motion vs.'00 Subaru Outback?...Tough choice.Have same predicament...But I lean more to the VW.


    Passat has great V6,Tiptronic 5 sp.(Subaru only has 4 sp.sportshift(?)..),
    German engineering and great built quality and value,and it feels like a more affordable MBZ.


    The Subaru though has extensive AWD technology up their sleeves,better reliability,love the boxer engine,a "Lexus-like" interior and exterior theme and cost
    less....Hmmmm.
  • jimesjimes Posts: 2
    Bill, I'm in the same quandry: '00 outback or '00 passat. I spoke with my local dealer today who asked his VW rep and he said that VW was definately coming out with the Synchro model in August timeframe. I, too want a manual. Have you heard any more about this and VW's intentions.

    Regarding the '00 Outback's chack out the Australian web site. They've got a bunch of great looking pictures of the new outback suitable for framing. Obviously, the wheel's on the wrong side, but it looks like they've made quite few changes.

    http://www.subaru.com.au/

    Also chack out this site:
    http://www.outback2000.com/

    I still haven't decided. I think I'll wait til they hit the showroom first.
  • MiroMiro Posts: 15
    Jimes,
    Motor Trend takes a look at the 2000 Outback Limited:
    http://www.motortrend.com/may99/subaru/subaru_f.html
    I'm wondering why you're trying to decide between two vehicles without having driven them. Will you consider other Legacy wagons too; like the GT or lesser trims? I wonder how many people know that Subaru builds sporty models, not just suv look-a-likes.
    Since you're still looking, is the SAAB 9-5 within your reach?
  • jimesjimes Posts: 2
    Miro, all very valid points. I do not intend to purchase anything without a test drive. I live in the mountains of NC, and really need an AWD version. With 2 kids, I need the space. I'm replacing a 7 year old 160K+ Camry. I'd like to stay within the 25K area and am aware of other Subaru stylings but like the way the new Subaru's look. I do not want a true SUV for MPG reasons.I'll have to check out the Saab's. I like the Saab stylings!
  • tvicetvice Posts: 2
    Don't look for Audi to make the Passat just like the A4 for less money anytime soon. I had a 93 Passat wagon VR6 and would have liked to have traded it for an awd Passat but none were available. I heard a rumor that the awd option for the Passat would be 5 or 6 grand extra which would have put it right in Audi territory. That's what Audi wants and they are driving the " corporate car " at this point. I went ahead and bought an A4 Avant 1.8T and am not dissappointed except its smaller than the Passat
  • mluikeymluikey Posts: 3
    How do you find the power with the 1.8T, I am
    considering the same car but I drive in excess of
    50,000 miles per year with a vehicle loaded with
    fabric samples. I'm concerned with pick up and
    weather the engine would last 200,000 plus. I currently drive a van and hate it.
  • jlb2000jlb2000 Posts: 1
    Does anyone know if VW is coming out with a V6 Passat wagon before January 2000? I have made a committement to purchase a Passat Wagon by Nov. 99. I was hoping to find out if VW will have the V6 Available by then. As I would rather have the V6 than Turbo 4.
  • tvicetvice Posts: 2
    Power is much better than my vr6 Passat with automatic which was a dog off the line and only became decent above 3000 rpm the 1.8t with manual tranny is surprising. The torque curve is so flat. Power does decrease with ac on and or carrying passangers. I also thought the v6 Passat wagon was already out. I've seen sedans with the v6.
  • kandacekkandacek Posts: 5
    I'm not saying things haven't changed, but when I talked to our VW/Audi dealer back in March, he told me VW decided to drop the AWD version because it would compete too much against the Audi A4 Quattro. Shame. I really liked the Passat I drove, but I wanted the AWD version. The A4 is just too small. Instead, though it's not an AWD either, I'm looking at the Saab 9-5 wagon. I need something that's close in size to my Taurus wagon.
  • dustoffdustoff Posts: 1
    I wonder if the Subaru is expensive to maintain?
    Anyone have info to share?
    thanks!
  • kitty6kitty6 Posts: 1
    I've drive both the saab 9-5 wagon and the passat gls wagon this week. Hands down the saab wins for handeling and power and yummy appeal. On the other hand a savings of approx.$$10,000 would sway me towards the vw. I'm in alaska and have a very limited number and options to choose from. My options now is to contact WA or other states to find the right vw wagon with the right options.
  • idgiferidgifer Posts: 5
    Kandacek - in mid-June, my dealer also told me there would not be an AWD Passat, citing the same reason. We have bought from him before, and he has always been straight forward with us.
    Dustoff - in regards to Subaru maintenance, I can tell you that in the 5 years I've had my legacy sedan, the only money I spent was for oil changes until I hit 45,000, when I did spark plugs, some of the belts, etc, and spent $250. It's been flawless and I almost hate to get rid of it, but I'm lusting after a 2000 Red GT Wagon....
  • cimteccimtec Posts: 2
    RE Mainteance

    I have had 4 subaru wagons: 85 , 88 Turbo, 96 Outback, and 98 Outback. About 350K total. Except for a blown plastic radiator in the 88 at 98K miles, nothing but routine stuff and have never broken down on the road. Will order a 2000 White GT in September.
  • Yesterday I test-drove 99Passat, 00Outback, 00LegacyGT, all wagons. My wife and I both strongly preferred the LegacyGT, and bought one. VW was much more responsive than we're used to, too much so, and too much road noise & bounce. Legacy just rode much better than Outback, despite better viewing from OB. Tried to ignore looks of OB.
    We have a 95Legacy LS sedan, love it. This 00 is a significant improvement in terms of ride and noise & power. No insult to VW, but we liked GT better, despite some hankering for a "European" feel and a new experience.
  • We have heard that the Passat AWD wagon will be available in the Spring of 2000. Does anyone know if it will be available in the 4 and 6 cyl. engines or the 6 only. Any idea of cost and availability?
  • astaasta Posts: 122
    randyc3 - I just saw the 2000 passat turbo 4 at an auto show here in southern california. The VW rep told me the AWD passat will only be available in a V6 and should (maybe) hit dealerships in March of 2000. Every VW dealer I have talked to in my area laughs openly at any promise VW makes - all of them said VW told them they'd get the AWD passat in January of 99!! The VW rep at the show offered the same reason for feet-dragging on the Passat AWD - cutting into the Audi product line. Today I called the VW information line here in the US and the girl told me VW will "definitely" be introducing a V6 Passat Wagon in first quarter 2000 - she just doesn't have hard production dates yet. She was a bit more vague about the AWD, but said late spring for that one. FYI: I test-drove and Audi A6 Avant - super car - tight, gorgeous interior, and the sales rep told me to go ahead and hit a dip at the road at 45MPH! I did and the Audi never flinched - the suspension is so clean and tight and the body is so rigid (very safe). Of course it costs 40K with leather, but it does comes standard with the AWD quattro system (which is permanently engaged). I really want to get another wagon (I have a saturn sw2) but if VW doesn't pony up I'll probably switch to a Jeep Grand Cherokee or the Honda Odyssey minivan. I'm going to check out an A4 Avant Audi, but I've heard the cargo space is prety small.
  • dudleyrdudleyr Posts: 3,469
    Why not check out the Legacy?
  • astaasta Posts: 122
    dudleyr - I know zip about the subaru line other than when I was up visiting my sister in seattle a few years ago at New Year's and the there was unexpected snowstorm dump of 2 ft in the city (seattle has one snowplow for the entire city), those little subaru wagons were the only vehicles on the road! They were everywhere, scooting through nearly a foot of fresh, unplowed snow without flinching. The AWD system looks very impressive. But, how's the power and styling? How would compare the legacy or outback with the Passat wagon, given similar engine configurations?
  • Can anyone explain (or point me to a reasonably
    good explanation of) the major differences of
    these two "AWD" approaches? Thanks!
  • Here is a good site for explaining the different
    AWD approaches:

    http://www.eskimo.com/~eliot/awd.html
  • My wife and I have recently test driven both the 2000 Passat Wagon and the 2000 Outback Wagon. My wife seems to prefer the Passat overall due to its very impressive build quality, fit and finish, but from her perspective, the Subbie comes in a very close 2nd place and she would be happy with either car. She wants me to surprise her with a purchase, which I plan to do in January.

    My dilemma is my heart says go with the Passat and my brain says to buy the OB. The Passat has many nice features, handles nicely and the acceleration is quite nice with the 4 cylinder, although it can become noisy when pushed too hard. I also test drove a '99 V6 Passat Sedan the same day as the Passat Wagon and did not feel there was that much greater throttle response to justify the extra cost. Besides, one can easily install a computer chip in the 4 cylinder to get up to 40 or 50 more HP at a cost of $400 to $500 extra to make it even more exciting to drive. One knowledgeable VW sales rep told me that he read somewhere where installing a chip into the Passat can cause the valves to prematurely burn. Has anyone heard of this happening? I have read somewhere that the Audi uses the same engine and on one of their models they use an upgraded chip on that engine to give it a greater boost. I don't believe Audi would place an up lifting chip in their engine if the values would burn sooner than they should.

    I have to say that having a 10 year powertrain warranty on the Passat would be very nice, but of course it would not be too nice if it required many trips to the dealer for repairs. I have read many complaints of reliability problems in other sites on this car, yet even after all the trouble, these same people absolutely rave about how much they are in love with their vehicle! Unbelievable! Are there any people out there who own a Passat who haven't had any problems? According to the new issue of a certain well known and read consumer magazine on the 2000 Models they have tested ( I do not want to mention their name, since I have heard in the past that this company has filed litigation against people who have utilized their name without their permission ), they have put the reliability of the '99 Passat in practically the same category as they did for the '98 Legacy in their April issue on the '99 Models and therefore they predict the 2000 Passat will provide above average reliability. Unfortunately, this magazine did not put the 2000 Legacy on one of their classical longer term test drives and they would not comment on the reliability of the 2000 Legacy at this point, since they say it is a new model ( due to the re-design and engine revisions no doubt ).

    My views of the OB was the nicer fit and finish along with the greater amount of room over the past OB's. I was somewhat dismayed over the lack of pick up and another magazine said that they could achieve 0-60 MPH times of about 9.8 seconds if they used the power brake method by revving the engine to 2,500 RPM then releasing the brake. This would not be a recommended practice on a FWD or a RWD car all the time, but I suspect that it would not be too bad on a Full Time AWD car like the Subbie, since the engine torque is being evenly distributed to more wheels. On one of my test drives with the OB, I did pull from a stop sign with the Trans shifter set at "1" which allows one to rev the engine at a higher RPM before shifting to the higher gear and this definitely increased the performance, but of course the tiptronic feature on the Passat is better for this type of manual shifting that includes 5 gears to the Legacy's 4. The handling around a curve at a higher speed was quite nice in the OB, but I feel the Firestone Wilderness mud and snow tires on this model do not allow for the greatest of handling and one magazine says that the car has a heavy understeer to it which did not produce exciting skidpad results. I am wondering if one can order this car with a different set of tires ( like the GT tires )from the factory? Is there an after market feature that would allow one to bolt on the turbocharger on the OB as the models sold overseas? If so, at what cost I wonder? Thanks for your help.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Here are my impressions:

    The Passat 1.8T sedan I drove was quick with the 5 speed, but my friend's Tiptronic wagon was much slower and shifted slowly too. Stick with the manual, or get the V6. Pro: upscale feel, germanic. Con: turbo lag, real world prices are higher, 4Motion still MIA, premium fuel costs $1.69 around me (yikes!).

    The 2000 Outback is much improved over the '99: 4 wheel disc brakes, 16" wheels, rear LSD option, seat belt pre-tensioners and force limiters, side air bag option, DRLs, over an inch wider, more cargo room. The fake hood scoop is gone, and it looks more upscale inside, now matching the very nice Passat interior. Pro: full-time AWD, safety, low-end torque mates better with auto, more comprehensively equipped (AWD, alloys, roof rack, fog lights, etc.). Con: a bit heavy, auto models could use more power (H-6 coming for 2001).

    It's important to distinguish the various AWD systems. VW/Audi has two: 4Motion and Quattro, and they are different. 4Motion controls how power is distributed electronically, like auto tranny Soobs. Quattro uses a Torsen Differential, with a LSD front and rear. Oddly, the Audi TT uses VW's system.

    Auto Soobs work like 4Motion. For 2000, they also offer a rear viscous LSD in the all-weather package, which I highly recommend at its bargain price. Manual tranny Soobs split torque 50/50 all the time. The center diffy is filled with a silicon fluid, which thickens quickly when either axle is spinning quicker than the other.

    I own a manual tranny Forester, and basically it's so effective you just never begin to slip.

    All these are full-time, active systems that make part-time 4WD seem relatively crude.

    Audi charges $1750, I believe, even on the TT. VW should charge in the $1500-1750 range. Soobs have it standard on all its cars.

    Snow tires work well, but remember you have to mount them. They're louder and don't handle as well in the dry, so it was not a practical option for me, since we get snow sporadically (I'd have to mount/dismount them constantly).

    AWD also has its benefits in the dry. Handling in curves is more neutral. Weight is distributed more evenly front to rear. The front tires aren't overwhelmed having to steer and transmit torque.

    Subaru offers an automanual in New Zealand, so it may eventually appear here. They also have a low range tranny, believe it or not. The H-6 engine should arrive this fall, with 205hp, on GT and Outback Limited models, but with auto only the first year.

    Sorry about my ranting. Wait for the model you want, drive it, and buy what fits your needs and budget. Both are sweet.

    -juice
  • I Recently purchased a Passat GLS V6 Wagon in Boise, ID, so they are out there. I did compare the Outback and the Forrester. Main difference I found was VW better on the highway, the Subaru AWD makes them better in the snow. I have the 5-Speed and that really makes this a fun car to drive.

    You just need to decide if you want AWD or not.
  • This is from today's Colo Spgs local paper in the
    business section talking about the LA Auto Show.

    "Volkswagen also said it plans to build in 2002 a
    convertible version of its New Beetle, which was
    reintroduced in 1998. And the company said
    four-wheel-drive versions of its Passat wagons and
    sedans will be available later this month."
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good to know, and finally!

    I've heard they'll only offer 4Motion on the GLX automatic, which would be a big mistake. A GLX Wagon with auto stickers for $30k, so 4Motion would push the price into the $32k range.

    No way it can compete in that price range. In contrast, you can get a Legacy from $18k to $26k or so.

    Let's hope I'm wrong. A high price would also cannibalize A4 Avant sales.

    -juice
  • seansean Posts: 2
    Took a test drive in a Passat GLX wagon yesterday and I asked the salesman if the AWD version will actually be available this year as has been rumored but not confirmed by VW. He told me that the cars are actually here at the ports in the U.S. and are being distributed. They are a special order at this time but can
    be processed as the this past week. Thought this info might be of interest to a number of folks
    posting on this subject. The dealer is Donaldsons located in Sayville Long Island N.Y.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I brought my Impreza Outback in for service at my local Subaru/VW/Mazda/Toyota dealer the other day, and found out they already have two AWD Passats in stock, awaiting to be processed. One was a wagon, other a sedan. The dealer's name is Russell, in Catonsville Maryland.

    Bob
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    What kind of sticker prices did they have?

    Do you recall if 4Motion was an a-la-carte option, as with Audis?

    -juice
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    It stickered just under $31K for a sedan with tiptronic. It comes only in the top-of-the-line GLX V6. I believe the 4-Motion option was around $1600. The 4-Motion sedan can be had with manual or automatic. The wagon is automatic only.

    The salesman at Russell VW indicated that 4-Motion equipped vehicles will be somewhat rare, so don't expect much discounting.

    Bob
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Why no 4Motion wagon/5 speed? Aren't they missing the target here: Sports Wagons?

    Price sounds high, but the GLX V6 is well equipped. $30-32k, depending upon body style, is priced way out of my price range.

    An Outback Limited Wagon with auto costs about $27k, and even with the H-6 coming this summer it should be about $28k or so.

    Still, it's nice to have options, even if they are on the high end.

    -juice
  • spockcatspockcat Posts: 100
    Juice,

    I have found this to be typical VW/AUDI-USA policy. Note that the S4 Avant isn't in the USA. Nor is there an A6 Avant with anything but the dog 2.8 motor in the USA.

    In Germany, they have:
    S4 2.7 twin turbo V6 with a 6 speed manual in 17 different colors.
    S6 4.2 V8 Avant with either the 5 speed Tip or the 6 speed manual in 9 different colors.

    Perhaps if we had some unlimited speed highways like many of the Autobahns in Germany, we would get better cars from Germany. We get no respect!

    Jim
  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    These were also the final 2 for me.

    I looked at (automatic only):
    4) Audi A4 Avant
    3) Volvo V40
    2) VW Passat
    1) Subaru OB
    and some others that did not make the cut. They are ranked in my order of preference. 1 as the best and 4 as still pretty good.

    The major question for me was value for the money. I got the Outback Limited with all kinds of crazy wacky zany options for about $27k. About $3000-6000 less than the other with the same/similar stuff. Each car did certain things very well but the balance was on the Subes side. For example if I could take the seats, quality, and looks from the Audi, the engine from the Volvo, the steering feel from the Passat, and the velcro grip of the Sube....then I would have had exactly what I wanted. When I started I did not want the Sube, I wanted the Passat (really badly). BUT the Sube won we over eventually after about 4 test drives of each.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, Audi is probably being a bit careful on its pricing policy too. They're always a bargain compared to BMW/Mercedes, perhaps in part because they offer lower-end models.

    nematode - thanks for sharing the experience. I guess beauty (of AWD) is more than skin deep!

    -juice
  • elteeeltee Posts: 2
    Well, I've narrowed the choices of AWD wagons, due mainly to budgetary priorities, wants v. needs, curb appeal, etc. etc. etc. I'm looking at the Passat 4Motion v. the Soob OB LTD. Drove the new Passat during the last snow storm here in VA, and it was dreamy; the V6's power over-rode the sluggish (and slow, imho) Tiptronic, which, no matter what the marketing folks say, IS NOT A MANUAL and never will be. But...it is a novelty, for sure. Anyway, the Passat handled well.

    Have not driven the OB yet. Since 1978, I've owned a host of German autos, from VeeDubs to Bimmers, to an Audi. Current ride is a '91 Passat WGN 5-speed. (BTW, ALL these cars, save one, were sticks.)

    I'm leaning toward the Soob for two main reasons: value/budget and proven reliability. The new Passat is SO new, as is the 4Motion comcept (v. Synchro). I can definitely get a lot more for my money with the OB, though the detail in the Passat GLX is, well, spellbounding! I haven't even looked at a 2K OB yet.

    My biggest concern is the drive-ability contest. Has anybody made the German-to-Japan conversion? What kinds of "adjustments" (read: compromises) did you have to make? Will the 2.5L 5-speed Soob perform well in comparison to the Tiptronic (the only tranny on the 4Motion WGN)? Certainly just about anything will be a vast improvement over my Passat's 2.0L (thought it does have a lot of pep).

    I have enjoyed reading all the feedback, experience, and sage advice in this and the other columns. Will continue to monitor as the buying zone approaches!

    Barry
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786
    This may not be too relevant as I was driving a 98 VW Passat 1.8T manual sedan in United Kingdom and then moved back to Australia where I bought a 99 Subaru Outback 2.5l manual wagon. Both are fabulous cars with very many similarities. Build quality is similar although finish of the VW is better; deeper colour to plastic trim prevents scratches, exterior paintwork more scratch resistant, other minor "feel good" points. Driving feel is very similar as is the general experience of ownership.

    Main reason for not buying a Passat turbo back in Australia was concern over the life expectancy of my license if I did. I had got used to sitting with all the other traffic at 85-90 mph on Motorways in Britain and the Passat Turbo is spinning really nicely at that sort of speed. In Australia, the speeding laws are rigidly enforced and 90mph would lose your license instantly.

    Secondary consideration was change in use. Here in Australia, there is a far greater proportion of dirt roads and I tend to use them a fair bit. Subaru AWD is fabulous in these conditions, particularly when wet. Added ground clearance is also a big help as many of the roads I travel have boulders in unexpected places. I have wiped out a sump on one car many years ago and do not wish to repeat the expensive experience.

    I went for an Outback Limited which adds leather, dual moon roof and CD player here. Absence of cassette deck drives me nuts and I cannot find how to get around it. The colour, described as Royal Violet is also not wonderful, being closer to metallic purplish blue, to my eyes. Only four colour choices here and when you have a wife and kids, your vote on colour often loses.

    Initially, I had problems with the throttle characteristics of the Outback, particularly when the throttle had leaned out a lot on long trips (Engine Control Unit is adaptive and modifies throttle mapping dependent upon recent usage; around town it is more aggressive, on long cruise, runs leaner. This can cause problems with cruise control when switching from zero throttle to minimal throttle, such as on gentle downhill runs after gentle driving for twenty minutes plus). I called Subaru of Australia and mentioned my concerns. "Yes, it is a problem with 2.5l Outbacks and Japan are working up a fix". After experience with Mercedes over too many years of problems with a C class, I was convinced I would never hear anything further. Surprise! A call a day or so later said "We have a new ECU which we would like to fit. Can we call around tomorrow (Saturday). I was a bit surprised as each problem with the MB C class required 4 trips to a disinterested dealer, each time leaving car for days, only to find no fix achieved. The service guy appeared, fitted the new ECU and test drove the car with me. Still not happy, he insisted that the fix was still not right and would be taking the problem back for further investigation.

    As it happened, I have found that the ECU was only part of the problem, the more serious one being variable fuel octane ratings here. Shell have introduced a new 98 octane blend here which has fixed the bug and improved economy.

    Subaru is not as efficient as the Passat though. I am getting about 25-28mpg (Imperial Gallon, not US) against about 41-45 for the Passat. The Passat 1.8 Turbo is a seriously nice engine, very low polluter, fabulously responsive and super efficient. Possibly even nicer than that in the Mark II Golf, I used to own years ago. The Subaru engine is nowhere near as nice but it does a different job.

    I have just moved house with a 6x4 trailer (week before Christmas is not the time to move here; you cannot get a mover or hire a truck for love or money) towed behind the Subaru. Up hill and down dale, I just switched the Outback to low range and it handled it sweetly. The Passat would never have hauled like that.

    All in all; two very similar cars to drive but achieving different ends.

    Rechecking the spelling, I am reminded that I am still in UK English mode. In Australia and the US, colour would be spelt color although the change only occurred after I had finished school. Too lazy to amend so hope you can all translate!

    Cheers
    Graham
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Only a test drive will tell for sure, as tastes differ.

    Autoweek nicknamed the 2.5l engine the "torque pig". It doesn't feel like anything else, really, since it's a water-cooled boxer. It has a characteristic growl to it. Soobs overall have lots of character, dare I say a soul, very unlike other Japanese cars. You also get frameless windows, which can take getting used to but most owners like. They're pretty reliable and they last, and they are excellent in foul weather, which is why they're popular in snowy climates. Australia gets slightly different models, including a low range option not offered in the US, and some Turbos too. The H-6 will come this summer, but should only come with an auto tranny.

    The VW is nice, but it takes a more high-tech approach with its V6 and 5 valves per cylinder, and requires premium fuel ($1.749 in Bethesda, MD). It's an Audi platform, too, so it feels upscale and sturdy. The interior is a bit cold to me, especially given the price. It's a shame they don't offer the manual on the wagon 4motion, but I guess their upcoming SUV will fill that niche.

    Ironically, owners are similar. I recall from my rec.autos discussion days how passionate VW owners can be, and I have found that Soob owners are no less enthusiastic. They also tend to be adventurous and outdoorsy, so posts usually concern how to load kayaks, bikes, and skis on the roof without scratching the paint.

    Drive the Outback and the Legacy GT, and let us know what you think.

    -juice

    PS Graham - check out the new CD-Recorders, you can make your own CD's (for a price)
  • The following is a somewhat lengthy review of the Outback and Passat wagons that I recently test drove. I found the information on this site to be extremely helpful and felt I should do my part and pass along some comments to the next prospective car shopper ...

    In my search for a new wagon, I narrowed it down to these two vehicles. I did this based solely on the numbers. When comparing specs and prices, it's hard to beat the Passat & Outback when it comes to value for the money.

    The Outback is nice. Nice exterior styling, well layed out interior. I really like the way this vehicle looks. I found the cloth seats to be a bit narrow. Interestingly enough, the leather seats fit me better even though they are supposed to be identical in design. The Outback was surprisingly nice to drive. Very good handling and excellent visibility. My only real problem with this vehicle is the acceleration, or lack thereof. I test drove an automatic and when I stomped on the pedal I expected those 166 horses to kick-in and start running. Instead, all I heard was ALOT of engine noise and acceleration was very slow and tedious. It's very quiet otherwise and is an acceptable cruiser.

    The Passat is also a very nice vehicle. The exterior styling is much more subdued when compared to the Outback. I test drove a Passat with leather interior and the seats felt very nice. The first thing I noticed driving the Passat was that you sit lower than you do in the Outback. I must say, I liked the visibility in the Outback a bit better for this reason. Where the Passat really shines is in the engine performance. Put the pedal to the floor in the 1.8 4 cyl engine and it moves you right along without all the engine noise of the Outback. The turbo provides very nice acceleration. Even though the Passat has 11 less hp, it feels like it accelerates much faster and smoother. The Passat also comes with a 5 spd Tiptronic transmission which can be shifted manually. This is a very nice feature and pretty much decided it for me over the Outback.

    Some other notes ... both vehicles were comparable in cargo capacity. However, the Passat has a split bottom rear cushion. This allows you to fold half of the rear seat down completely flat while still allowing a third passenger to ride in the back seat. The bottom rear cushion in the Outback was one piece meaning you had to fold the entire bottom rear cushion up in order to fold the rear seat completely flat, ie. no third passenger. If you plan on carrying bikes inside your wagon (like I do), then this is something you should consider. The Passat also has about 2" more roof clearance in the rear cargo area. Even so, I found I still had to remove my bicycle seat in order to get the bike in standing up.

    The Passat is "chippable" meaning that you can boost the horsepower and torque significantly by adding a performance computer chip. The Outback does not have this option. The Passat has a better drivetrain and rust warranty. The Passat gets better mileage than the Outback and comes standard with a security system and side impact air bags. The Passat also has a full sized spare tire. Finally, leather and sunroof are available options on the standard Passat GLS. One must get the Outback Limited in order to get these features. A comparably equipped Passat is about $1000 less than the Outback Limited. About the only downside I found with the Passat was that 15" steel wheels and tires are standard equipment vs. 16" alloy wheels found on the Outback. Several reviews I've read mentioned that the standard 15" Passat wheels are pretty inadequate. The Passat had a slightly nicer rear seat release mechanism. The oil filter on the Passat is located on the side of the engine and looked like it might be a little difficult to get to. The oil filter on the Outback is underneath and is supposed to be better/easier to get to.

    In the end, when you add up the checkmarks in each column, the Passat GLS comes out ahead of the Outback both in pricing and in performance.
  • As Juice says, personal preferences certainly make a difference. My wife and I came down to the Passat wagon vs the Legacy GT wagon. Our difference was the hesitancy about the turbo 4. We wanted to avoid a turbo, so we decided it had to be the V6 GLS if VW. That drives the price about $2-3k (with luxury package) above the GT. The Passat is certainly a nice car, but it was going to be really tough to find a GLS V6 wagon with the MT, w/o the leather upgrade package. In the end, for us, it came down to Subaru reliability and price vs the unquestionable power of those 190 hp in the V6. We are extremely happy with the GT, and the recent weather here in Northern Virginia had made two believers in the Subaru AWD. They need to have a snow test drive track at every dealer..

    phil
  • You hit the perverbial nail on the head. When one factors in price, reliability, and AWD, the Subaru Legacy (especially GT and Outbacks)are a better buy. Of course, as Juice points out, you can't ignore the test drive or any subjective thoughts such as styling. In order to complete fairly w/the Subaru, you need to compare the GLX w/AWD. Probably the closest matchup would be the GT (Ltd) or the Outback Ltd. Based on VW's current pricing, I couldn't imagine the GLX wagon w/AWD going for less than 29k @ cost. This is more than the most expensive Subaru. While I'm on the subject, what's up with the VW's pitiful 2year/24000 mile warranty. I'm sorry, but an increased powertrain warranty does not make up for this. The average person makes use of the basic warranty more than the powertrain warranty. Subaru has a 3year/36000 mile warranty. Another factor (one which VW doesn't have much control over admittingly) is the arrogance of a lot of VW dealers. These are the same dealers that a few years back were begging people to even step into the showroom , let alone buy a car from them. The Passat is a fine car but it's out valued by the Subaru. Just my .02 and 1/2 cents worth. :-)
  • amishraamishra Posts: 367
    Having read some of the comments posted above, and owning a 2000 Outback, I felt it prudent to head over to the VW showroom and make sure I hadn't made a mistake. I took the Passat for about a 40 minute drive, and *really* put it through its paces.

    Well, here's the story:

    Passat Wagon (1.8T w/triptronic/leather/heated seats)
    - definitely sexier both on the outside and in
    - I actually like the interior, it feels refined
    - feels slightly faster
    - lower seating position, had me fooled I was in a sports sedan until the body roll demonstrated otherwise
    - the triptronic was surprisingly good - it was fun
    - seats are really good
    - has those nifty european side markers :)
    - it does *not* get 41 or 44 mpg as someone stated above. Even the sales guy said max 30 mpg, and we know they always pad the numbers.

    Outback
    - love those large side mirrors (had to really look hard when passing with the Passat)
    - interior has more compartments
    - seat does not go up high enough
    - acceleration is really close to the Passats, but it just doesn't have that oomph or excitement to it. My guess because the car's so much quieter and slightly heavier.
    - it has AWD*
    - definitely quieter
    - much higher cargo entry area, and it definitely appears to have more room overall

    When you add up what you get, it comes down to this: the Outback is a very practical car. You get your money's worth, whereas with the Passat, I love the way it looks and feels. Still, compared to the fact you get AWD with the OB, and you don't with the Passat in the same price range, the value is questionable.

    * you can get 4-motion on the Passat, but we're talking only on the V6 and mated with the triptronic. While I would love to have one, the price is at least 3-4k US more than a OB Limited. If I had that kind of money I would probably buy an Audi. (I watched Ronin this past weekend, and am dying for an S8)

    This was an educating experience nonetheless. In my dream world, I'd love to own both cars. What am I saying ... I would love to own many many different cars! (no SUVs though :)

    I wish it was possible to own both cars, they're both really good. But alas, most of us have to pick one. Pick the one that's right for you.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786
    Ashish
    I beg to differ on the fuel mileage on the Passat 1.8T. I am a dead boring CPA and very fussy about numbers, particularly where it involves money. The quoted 41 to 45 mpg was Imperial Gallons which are equivalent to 1.2 US gallons. Converted to US Gallons, this works out at 34 to 37 mpg. Okay, I admit that I drive frugally but not slowly but the pattern of driving is consistent on the Subaru which is showing 25 to 28 mpg Imperial or 21 to 23 mpg US. The Passat figure was in line with European mixed use figures set under government standards. I have to admit to not being too wild about the fuel economy of the Subaru but console myself that it is not me paying for it. Both cars were manuals but the Passat was 2 wheel drive, not the 4-motion.

    Either way, they are both great cars and good fun to drive

    Graham
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786
    Ashish
    I beg to differ on the fuel mileage on the Passat 1.8T. I am a dead boring CPA and very fussy about numbers, particularly where it involves money. The quoted 41 to 45 mpg was Imperial Gallons which are equivalent to 1.2 US gallons. Converted to US Gallons, this works out at 34 to 37 mpg. Okay, I admit that I drive frugally but not slowly but the pattern of driving is consistent on the Subaru which is showing 25 to 28 mpg Imperial or 21 to 23 mpg US. The Passat figure was in line with European mixed use figures set under government standards. I have to admit to not being too wild about the fuel economy of the Subaru but console myself that it is not me paying for it. Both cars were manuals but the Passat was 2 wheel drive, not the 4-motion.

    Either way, they are both great cars and good fun to drive

    Graham
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786
    Ashish
    I beg to differ on the fuel mileage on the Passat 1.8T. I am a dead boring CPA and very fussy about numbers, particularly where it involves money. The quoted 41 to 45 mpg was Imperial Gallons which are equivalent to 1.2 US gallons. Converted to US Gallons, this works out at 34 to 37 mpg. Okay, I admit that I drive frugally but not slowly but the pattern of driving is consistent on the Subaru which is showing 25 to 28 mpg Imperial or 21 to 23 mpg US. The Passat figure was in line with European mixed use figures set under government standards. I have to admit to not being too wild about the fuel economy of the Subaru but console myself that it is not me paying for it. Both cars were manuals but the Passat was 2 wheel drive, not the 4-motion.

    Either way, they are both great cars and good fun to drive

    Graham
  • i took a test drive in a friends audi 1.8t quattro, with the tiptronic transmission(aka passat)and although the car is evidently superbly built, i was surprised at the performance in spite of the turbo. i drive a '98 intrigue with a 195hp v6 so i'm used to power off the line, and turbo not withstanding the 1.8t didn't impress me. i chose instead a 2000 gt limited sedan, and was apprehensive about the boxer 4.i've read a previous comment that stomping on the subaru's peddle gets a lot of noise and no go, check your gasoline as my gt definitely moves when i stomp the peddle. remember the gt has the added weight of awd, so unless you're driving a passt 1.8t with awd, which doesn't exist, you're not giving a fair comparison.granted the gt does not have the rocket like acceleration of my intrigue, but i bought the car for the awd and the subaru reputation.it performs extremely well on the highway, is very nimble and maneuverable and i look forward to the h6 when it makes it's debut in the summer.don't get me wrong the audi was my first choice, the never produced '99 passat v6 awd my second, but my final selection was a very pleasant surprise as subaru builds a great car.
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