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Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry vs. Volkswagen Passat



  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,681
    I'm a similar height 6'3" and I have plenty of room above my head in my 03 Accord (no sunroof); don't find road noise bad though. I always have the seat all the way to the bottom and tilted slightly back. I find Acura's to be very limited in head room, but found a number of cars with good head room (with my seating position listed above) such as: Camry (manual adjustment), Accord, Passat, Jetta, S70, G35, A6, A4, even the Audi TT has very good head room; maybe I slouch more.

    I don't think you need to go to an SUV if you're 6'4". You may prefer a roomier environment than I do; if my wife would let me, I'd even attempt to squeeze into an MR2.

    Have you tried the Passat? The rear will be tight for 3 across, but with 2 it's fine.

    I find most European cars (the ones imported to North America) have good headroom. I have difficulties with some Japanese brands. Don't really look at NA cars or Korean cars.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Posts: 4,202
    My fiance is 6'6 and he fits fine in our 03 Accord coupe. But then again he drove a MR2 Turbo for years, followed by Integras, Civics, Accords, and a 300ZX TT. But now he drives a GS300 and is spoiled by the extra room and says he can't drive a smaller car so I'm gonna quit typing now....
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    I drove my 2002 1.8T Passat from Indianapolis to Breckenridge, Colorado and back. I averaged 32mpg at speeds up to 85mph! The car performed beautifully at the higher altitudes, easily passing other cars on the upgrades. What a satisfying car.

    There is an article on the 2005 Passat in Automobile Magazine, August 2003, P.20. Looks like another benchmark. The flagship model is powered by a low-end-torque six cyl good for 300hp!
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Posts: 4,202
    I get 32MPG commuting to work and back in my Accord. Haven't taken it on a road trip recently to report it's highway MPG.
  • tpat3tpat3 Posts: 119
    My wife just bought a new '03 GLS Passat wagon 1.8T with 5 spd. to replace our '00 Accord EX 4 cyl. 5 spd.
    This is our first VW and granted the Accord was three-years-old but these are remarkably different cars.
    I really don't think this is a coin flip decision for anyone trying to choose between the two.

    Roominess, comfort and utility are pretty comparable and I would give a slight edge to Honda for passenger cabin storage.

    The similarities end on the road.

    The Passat is just flat out fun to drive compared with the Accord. That little turbo engine in the VW has power everywhere, no matter the speed or gear. I shift a lot less in this car than I ever did in the Accord. The Passat also feels like a tank although it is not much heavier and at the same time handles beautifully while absorbing bumps and rough stuff.

    This is subjective, but I also think the Passat is much better looking.

    Only time will tell on reliability, but I will be surprised is the VW equals the Honda.

    If you want trouble free operation from point A to point B, get the Honda. If you want more fun getting there, go with the VW.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    Many of the things that you criticize in the 2000 Accord have seen major improvements with the 2003 redesign.

    According to CR, the 2003 Accord 4 outaccelerates the Passat 4 in every measurement except 0-60, in which they tie. This is with automatics in both cars, but there's no real reason to expect that the manual versions won't be equally competitive. And, from the aspect of the bottom line, CR picked the Accord over the Passat as their top 4-cyl family car. It was close, but still a win for the Accord. In the V6 category, the Passat had a similarly close win over the Accord.

    Also, the Accord's suspension has been redesigned and retuned to provide a smoother ride with improved handling.

    Fun to drive? I think both cars can make that claim. Most reviews that you can find (in particular, Car and Driver and Road and Track) come to the same conclusion. Road and Track even says that, in their opinion, the 2003 Accord feels more like a German car than the 2003 Passat.

    All opinions, and everyone's can vary. The bottom line is that both are very fine cars. But I just wanted to point out that comparisons between the 2003 Passat and a '98-'02 Accord probably don't apply to a 2003 Accord.
  • tpat3tpat3 Posts: 119
    We did not drive the new Accord, or even research it very much, so your opinion is more informed than mine.

    I did not mean to criticize the Accord: I've been a loyal Honda owner for many years until a week ago. Seems strange not to have one in the driveway.

    Based on my experience, the Passat and maybe VWs in general drive much differently than Hondas. It's more feel than performance numbers, though I suspect the widely available torque in the 1.8T (all 166 lbs. at just 1900 rpm)is the main reason. The Passat seems very quick and responsive relative to Hondas, which seem to require much higher revs to access the available power.

    I'm sure you are right that both are very fine cars.
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Posts: 4,202
    Your comparison between the 03 Passat 1.8T and the Accord's engine shows that you have not driven a 2003 Accord. The 2003 Accord is now using i-Vtec which allows it to provide 80% of torque at idle and 90% of peak torque available from 2100 RPM to 5400 RPM. So unlike it's predecessors, which had an admittedly higher-revving nature, the 03 Accord 2.4L provides power everywhere without the turbo lag or the additional maintenance of a turbo. If you didn't even drive a 2003 Accord 2.4L you have no idea how improved the engine is. The old Accords were always smooth but lacked the "power anywhere" nature of the 03's.
  • 03accordman03accordman Posts: 671
    You did not mention the cost difference between the Accord and the Passat. How much did you buy the 1.8T wagon for?
  • tpat3tpat3 Posts: 119
    I believe I said in my posts that I had not driven the new Accord, so you are right, I do not know how improved the engine is. I frankly didn't find anything wrong with the "old" engine. It was merely different than the Passat motor and to my mind less responsive in most circumstances.

    Our decision to buy the Passat was based on the fact that our growing family needed more cargo room. If Honda made a wagon (not an SUV or minivan), we would have bought one.
  • tpat3tpat3 Posts: 119
    We paid $23,200 (out the door exclusive of sales tax) for the Passat GLS wagon with leather, cold weather package and "Monsoon" sound system, whatever that is.

    I do not know what a similarly equipped Accord costs since we did not shop it or compare it with the Passat, though I suspect we paid more for the VW than we would have for the Honda. Since I am new to Volkswagen, I don't know what to expect in terms of reliability. If we come close to our experience with various Hondas, I will be very happy and little surprised.
  • 03accordman03accordman Posts: 671
    Congrats, I think you got a great price.

    Happy Driving.
  • Passat, IMO gives you best of both the worlds. Good handling and ride quality without compromise. However, how much longer are they going to stick with the underpowered 2.8L 190 Hp V6. Even Hyaundais (might have spelled incorrectly) have more power than that.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I just wanted to share my experiences...

    All I hear is how wonderful Honda's reliability is. I agree, it is pretty good. But, when my Wife's '98 Accords transmission went out at 75K miles, we didn't think that a "honda" should have transmission failure at such an early stage. So, my point, Honda's are not perfect. They have their issues. Actually, didn't Honda just announce that they were recalling over half million cars for various issues INCLUDING TRANSMISSION failures. So, go with your heart and do research and drive what makes you feel good.
  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    Yes, Honda has just announced a fairly broad recall regarding its transmissions. Apparently, this problem is even more pervasive than the Toyota sludge debacle. That said, I still have full confidence that Honda is one of the most reliable choices you can make.

    motownusa- the 2.7L Hyundai V6 produces 173 hp in its most powerful current iteration. Hyundai does have a V6 that produces 195 hp, but its 3.5L in size, far bigger than the 2.8L that VW uses. I do agree in concept though, and hopefully the Passat that bows in the near future will have a larger V6 with more power and torque.

  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    A newspaper reporter is hoping to interview a recent buyer who looked at a Honda but then opted for another make. Please send your brief comments about your decision along with your daytime contact info to [email protected] no later than Friday, July 16, 2004.

    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
  • easy-eeasy-e Posts: 5
    I had an 03 Pilot and the tranny was terrible. The driver seat 'broke' and kinda had a lean in the seat back that put the right side a little lower than the left. The tranny would constantly downshift on th4e highway when I got off the gas and it would literally lurch the car like an inexperienced manual driver. We just traded it for an 04 LX Accord. HAd it about a month and other than the driver seat being alittle soft and not having a power adjustments its a great car.
  • lenixlenix Posts: 18
    They horrible even after they are replaced.
  • If it's that bad then trade it and buy something "better".
  • Did you have one replaced in your car? I did in my 03, and can't tell it apart from a new one, so no complaints.
  • uttim75uttim75 Posts: 2
    Dear Fish8,

    Yes, Honda did have some problems with their transmissions (no car company can make everything 100% reliable). But people need to understand that just because you buy a Honda that doesn't mean you're not going to have a problem with it - it just means your chances and severity of a problem are much less compared to other makes.

    But what is amazing is how Honda handled this problem. As opposed to placing blame on the customer as Toyota did with its engine sludge problems, Honda was proactive and not only extended the warranty on it's affected transmissions to 7yrs/100,000 miles, but is actually recalling them to repair/replace them at no cost to the owner.

    I think this is what separates Honda from other companies, and they are still considered the most reliable with Toyota overall.

    For comparison, Chrysler has been making horrible tranmissions for decades and they still haven't fixed the problem. And it was just released that Volkswagen and Chrysler now have engine sludge problems as well.

    But if it makes you feel any better, Lexus is having problems with their transmissions on their BRAND new RX330 and ES330s right off the dealer lot.
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    (no car company can make everything 100% reliable)

    Thank you.

    This is a point that gets lost too often during these discussions.

    Well said...
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I was not, nor was anyone else, trying to state that Honda's are 100% reliable. I was just providing my experiences. In my post, I was trying to let people know that ALL car companies have quality issues in all of their cars. Some manufacturers (VW) tend to have more problems than others (Honda / Toyota).

    As far as Honda handling the transmission problems: That's not entirely true. Honda only extended the warranty for '00 yr models and newer. Our Accord was a '98 and had the exact same transmission issues as newer Hondas, but ours would not of been covered. So, please tell me why didn't Honda include all ('98-'02) Accords in the voluntary recall?

    Yes, VW recently advised owners of oil sludge issues. They also will extend the engine warranty to 7yrs or 100,000 miles(I believe). So they are proactively addressing this issue. To be honest, they don't want to run into another Coil recall situation.....
  • VW is NOT being the nice guy with the extended warranty!!!
    If you can't prove that you changed the oil every 5,000 miles than they don't care.

    I have talked to 7 people in 5 days and have NO resolution.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Seems like we're going in circles here Tracey!! Who said anything about VW being a nice guy. I strictly stated that VW is sending a letter to owners warning of this issue. I know your very upset, but if you act like this with the VW dealer or a VW rep they will most likely NOT be willing to work with you.

    Just my $.02!!
  • From Edmunds long-term test of the 2003 Honda Accord:

    There have even been industry trade stories reporting that Honda used Volkswagen's Passat as inspiration on how to give the company's volume sedan an appealing aura that goes beyond pure logic.

    It's amazing how some people slam the Passat while cars like the Accord, Maxima, and Altima have become "Passat-like" in appearance. the saying goes: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"
  • maxamillion1maxamillion1 Posts: 1,467
    PLEASE. If anything, the Accord looks like an Alfa (Sedan) and a mixture of Acura CL/Mercedes (Coupe)

    But the Altima and Maxima do have that roofline like the Passat
  • The problem with the Passat now is that the Accord is a better Passat than the Passat is.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Ah, but the only review that is totally unbiased is Consumer Reports. They rank the Passat 3rd in sporty sedans, while the Accord is fifth, and the Passat is on an 8 year old platform!

    It's well known that Honda benchmarked the Passat for their current model Accord.
  • I've also noticed that quite a few subcompacts (Toyota Echo, Mitsubishi Lancer, Lexus IS300) came out with the roof-mounted antenna that was pioneered by the 1986.5 VW Scirocco 16v (an 18-year old design). It seems that over the years, many manufacturers have been borrowing some design cues from VW.

    So VW can't be all bad...
  • "Ah, but the only review that is totally unbiased is Consumer Reports."

    Yeah, OK.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Interesting, MSN has long term reliability ratings. For 2002, the Passat (which I own) and the Accord have identical ratings. Both are listed with "moderate" engine problems, every other category is listed as minimal problems for both cars.
    Before 2002, from 98'-01', the Accord has "significant" transmission problems, and the Passat has "significant" engine problems.
    These reliability ratings are close to what Consumer Reports has been saying, and contrary to what some have been saying on this forum about the Accord being "bullet proof' and trouble free.

    Here's the link.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    It's interesting to note that all three of the cars in this discussion (Accord, Camry, Passat) had moderate to significant engine problems in 2002 (according to the MSN info referenced above).

    I guess there's just no getting around dealing with a few issues, even with well-made vehicles like these three.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    "These reliability ratings are close to what Consumer Reports has been saying, and contrary to what some have been saying on this forum about the Accord being "bullet proof' and trouble free."

    Not from what I'm seeing from Consumer Reports. Looking at the 2002 engine problems stated above, Consumer Reports shows much better than average reliability for the engine. In fact, the Accord scored much better than average in every category except body integrity, in which it scored better than average. The Accord was given CR's highest overall reliability rating for 2002. As it did for all 8 years displayed in the chart. About as "bullet proof" and "trouble-free" as you can get.

    So I don't understand how anyone can claim that what MSN said is close to what CR says... CR is definitely not showing the problems that MSN is showing.

    As for the Passat, for the 2002 model year, CR reports much worse than average reliability for ignition, and worse than average reliability for electrical. Overall reliability for that model year is CR's lowest overall rating, worse than average. In the 6 model years on which they reported, the Passat scored worse than average for 4 of those years, and average for the other 2.

    So it looks like MSN and CR agree on the Passat, but they're way apart for the Accord. And at least according to CR, the Accord is way ahead of the Passat in reliability.

    I can't link to the CR ratings because it's a subscription site.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    Perhaps the differences between the CR and MSN results are due to the data-gathering methods used by each organization.

    I believe that CR relies on member surveys, while MSN gets its info from Auto Information Systems, which answers queries from auto service technicians.

    It seems like CR's ratings more accurately reflect the average owner experience, while the MSN ratings more accurately reflect minute issues with the cars.
  • Actually, CR relies on member's input and it is not a statistically correct sampling.

    For example, I participate in CR and other surveys and they are usually long and lengthy. Some of the questions are so vague and so categorized as to be meaningless. That being said, I am much more likely to fill out the survey on a particular item if I have had a bad experience with it. However, when I am pleased with a car or appliance or whatever, I tend not to bother filling out surveys. It is just human nature.

    That fact alone, significantly skews the findings to the negative or to people with problems. Very few people complain about something being good or excellent.

    Compare requested surveys with testimonial TV product advertising! The only way to obtain an accurate survey is to have an unbiased third party conduct a statistically valid survey on a valid sample set. Even so, answers can be biased on how the questions are phrased; thus the requirement for a third party unbiased survey. For example, if a Prius owner conducts a survey on Prius satisfaction, I would bet that the results come out postive. Just as if a diesel owner conducted the same survey the results would come out negative.


  • The VW group has been losing market share right, left and centre due to quality and reliability issues. They are trying to correct this, but as of date, the market share keeps falling. No one doubts that they make good cars, but their reputation for quality and reliability is truly suffering.

    There was a close to 5000 people lay off at VW a couple of months back, and things are not looking rosy at the moment.

    I, for one, am waiting for the new Passat which is rumored to be one hell of a car with an engine that can finally hold its own with the Japanese offerings. The only problem is that with VW moving higher in pricing, it might be priced out of my and a few others range. Let's wait and see.
  • If VW prices the new Passat too high they will have to compete with the Acura TL's and G35's of the market. No small task.
  • I agree with you, but logic has not been one of the strong points of the current VW management. They want to move VW upwards, and move Audi down, with their new A3. Beats me.

    The Passat W8, the Phaeton and a few other decision have cost VW a lot in the market. The new golf is still not released in the US, while most other models in the VW line are pretty old platforms. The only success they have had in the recent past is the toureg. So, like I said earlier, let's wait and watch.
  • Before I purchased my 02 VW Passat GLX, I did an exhaustive review of many magazines and internet sites. The 02 Passat received the highest marks. However, I typically don't believe everything I read, so I test drove the 02 Honda Accord EX V6, 02 Toyota Camry XLE V6, and the 02 VW Passat GLX V6. There was no comparison. If you enjoy driving, the Passat was by far the better performer. Now I have not driven the 2004s, but I doubt the Toyota or Honda would drive better than the VW. Also, I currently have 21,000 miles on the car, and have not had any problems. Just wanted to share my thoughts on this subject.
  • The current Accord is a big improvement over the older one in driving, and most publications have picked it over other cars for this ability itself, possibly with the exception of the Mazda6. The best way to gauge this would be to drive one and then compare with your car, as there is no replacement for seat time.
  • Hi all,

    I 'm in the market for any of the referenced vehicles(V6's only) including the Mazda6 hatch. But while I am leaning towards the Passat, it's reliability issue scars the hell out of me. I test drove all 4 vehicles and I thought it was a "toss up" between the Mazda and the Passat in the "fun factor" department. The Passat definitely has the more upscale interior, but it also gets pricey when comparing similar trim levels. The Accord design has not quite grown on me yet. Though I felt it had the smoothest engine. I am trading in a 1999 Millennia S. Any insights would be appreciated
  • I would say go by your own driving experience, as preferences are very subjective. The Passat is going to be completely redesigned next year, so you might want to wait for that. There are two sides to a redesign, the positive is that you will be able to get great deals now, and the negative is that you will obviously be driving a generation old car just a few months down the line.

    The Mazda6 is a great car, if you are looking primarily at handling. The V6 Accord provides the best overall balance, though I would give the 2005 Altima a serious look if I was you.
  • jwy418jwy418 Posts: 4
    Hi kruller001:

    If you concerned about reliability, check out the maintenance section and input the information on the car that is of interest to you. You can go as far back as five years on a particular model. Look carefully at how many recalls and Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs). The TSBs will give you a good idea of how many annoying little problems the model may have. Granted, a lot of TSBs manufacturer's announcements to mechanics(i.e. new warranty, new torque setting). Read the TSBs carefully.

    Secondly, read the consumer rating. Read only the one's under 9.0 because some owners like to talk up their cars.

    Most of all, test drive the car.
  • Thanks folks. I believe the bargain or value in this case to be the 2005 Altima v6. I was able to price one with sunroof and spoiler(vanity items) for the price of a 4 banger Volks Passat. The Nissan Dealer was the only one out of the three other brand dealers I visited that seem to appraise my trade-in with any seriousness. The Volks dealer would only offer $5000.00 for my 1999 fully loaded Millennia S. I just might sell it myself. I have not done it yet but I will go ahead and look into the reliability issues for the other vehicles shortly. But as nice as the Passat looks and rides, I have no intention of dealing with timing belt, oil sludge and high prices. Thanks for all your inputs.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 849
    there is no sludge in VW.

  • My wife just went through a gruesome driver-side collision in a 93 Camry with a pick up truck. She was lucky that the truck hit her car square in the middle so the roof collumn absorbed some of the force of the impact. The car is totaled.

    Her head hit something in the car causing multiple larcerations on her face and a hematoma the size of an egg inside her brain. She also suffered 3 broken ribs, a collapsed left lung and larcerated kidney. Her condition is stable after 4 days but she will be in intensive care for at least 2 weeks.

    A year ago I came to the conclusion that I would not buy any future car without side and curtain airbags for both front and rear seats! These safety features are worth your lives, your limbs or hundreds of thousands of dollars in pain, suffering and lost wages!

    When I was looking at the Camry 3 months ago, it was impossible to find any 04 Camry with side and curtain airbags at any trim level in Southern California! Honda made a great move making side and curtain airbags standard on the 05 Accord. I am very disappointed in Toyota for not making them standard on the 05 Camry.

    I also wanted a SE but there were very few in California and the dealers wanted premium prices.
    Toyotas produced a lot of 04 Camrys and Corollas with standard transmissions which the dealers could not sell and had to discount heavily!

    By the way, the Accord has double wishbone suspensions, front and rear, which are only available in the upscale GS and LS Lexus, MSRP from $42K to $65K. In emergency maneuvers, the Accord's tighter suspension would probably beat the Camry by a wide margin with clear implications of better accident avoidance before one has to rely on airbags as the last defense.

    I am not even talking about possible quicker throttle response, faster acceleration, better tires in an Accord if I have to dodge a big truck gunning for me!

    Toyota seems to misread its customers' preferences or has little regards for their needs. Toyota also seems to try to sell cheap cars for higher prices with expensive options than competitors.

    I am now convinced that Toyota is always behind Honda at least 2 years in all major and critical features, for example, ABS, 5-speed auto transmission, side airbags etc...

    Why am I sounding like I am trying to talk myself into a Honda over a Toyota??? Would like to have more information re safety features and performance on these cars from memebrs of tis board.
  • jwy418jwy418 Posts: 4

    I think that your concern about safety are justified. The IIHS side impact test of 10/4/04 indicates that the Mitsubishi Galant with side airbags rated the best along with the Saab 9-3, Lexus ES 330, and Acura TL.
    Try this website for your research:

    It may be helpful. Good Luck
  • brozhnikbrozhnik Posts: 172
    Peter - First of all, I'm really sorry this happened to your wife, and we're all hoping for her quick recovery.
    Starting a couple years ago, I began thinking about safety features. Like you, I have come to think that head-curtain airbags are essential (a big study found that they reduce serious injury by 45%). But I also concluded that another safety feature is essential - electronic skid control. A study at the U of Iowa found it reduces the likelihood of getting into an accident by about 30%; studies by VW and Toyota found about the same.
    Back when I was looking (a year ago), finding a car in my price range with both features was difficult. Back then, the Accord (otherwise my favorite of the three) offered neither feature, so I crossed it off my list. I found that I could theoretically get both features on a V-6 Camry, but I couldn't find one that actually had them. Meanwhile, the VW Passat offered both features from the base level up - and that base model, the GL, was cheaper than the V-6 Camry. And it was available. And it handles better than the Camry too, at least subjectively, and is more comfortable to be inside. So that's what I ended up with.
    I've enjoyed my 1.8T Passat (so far - 20,000 miles into it, I've had no problems with it). And I think the skid control feature (VW calls it "Electronic Stabilization Program") did save me once. I was forced partly onto the shoulder of the interstate at 70 MPH but had no trouble keeping the car going straight and in control. (If I had been in my old Saturn or Ford, i think I would have been toast.)
    I think I heard that Honda will be making skid control standard starting in 2006. If so, it'd be my first choice, no question. If it already offers skid control (I haven't checked) I'd go for it. But if it doesn't offer skid control yet, you might consider that and look for cars that do offer it.
    Hope this helps, and again, best wishes to your wife.
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