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Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry vs. Volkswagen Passat



  • optimist2optimist2 Posts: 15
    I have a dilemma and I am hoping to get some advice from this forum.

    Now that my wife and I have had our first child I am looking for a car with
    1) the most safety features (goal is to have the best chance of both surviving an accident and not suffering any major injuries) and
    2) the highest reliability (for the first 5-7 years i'd like to go to the dealer to change oil and do scheduled maint. only)

    Yes, I know i want the sun and the moon, but this is what my research has guided me to:

    I am looking at two options of almost identical price ($20,000 invoice plus tax, license and fees). this is within my budget.
    1-Passat GL 5 manual with all front and side airbags for driver and passenger, curtain airbags, ABS, traction control and Electronic stability and 4-year warranty
    2-Camry SE 5 manual with all airbags, ABS (NO antiskid or Electronic stability available) premium package with leather, and fog lights and 3-year warranty.

    crash tests from NHTSA are similar for both vehicles:
    Passat: 5 stars frontal crash driver, 5 stars frontal crash passenger, 4 stars side crash front, 4 stars side crash rear
    Camry: 5 stars frontal driver, 4 stars frontal passenger, 3 stars side crash front, 5 stars side crash rear
    From Highway safety institute
    Passat: GOOD (highest rating) in all except average in restraint/dummy movement
    Camry: GOOD (highest rating) in all except average in foot/leg injury right front seat.

    I love the passat but i really do not want to deal with maint. problems (I have only owned japanese cars: a Subaru GL10 '85, a mazda protege '98 and a rav4 '99-all extremely reliable). On the other hand, I wonder if it's not worth dealing with some limited (apparently) maint. hassles to get the most safety features. Do antiskid and electr. stability really add significant value to the safety package?

    I know i cannot go wrong with either choice but I would still value your opinions so as not to leave it to the flip of a coin.

    thank you

  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,681
    I had to make an almost identical decision. We went with a 03 Accord.

    When comparing the autos the Passat was our favorite. The Camry was actually last on my list but it turns out I did not compare the SE when I probably should have. We chose the Accord (2nd on our list) because they give the most for our trade in.

    I did not have any apprehensions with the VW reliability; I've previously owned 2 Audis and they faired pretty well. Our 03 Accord has actually been the worst reliable NEW car we've purchased. We've had the car about 10 months and have approx. 16K miles on it. I've come to the realization that my 1 year old car will only have half it's warranty left. The VW warranty is 48 months 50K miles.

    Looking back I probably should have gone with the VW, if only for the 50K mile warranty. The Passat is nearing the end of it's life cycle; I think the next one is coming out as an 05 so it may be dated...if that's important to you.

    All being said, we're still very happy with our 03 Accord it's never left us stranded, on moderately annoyed.
  • maxamillion1maxamillion1 Posts: 1,467
    the Camry SE because it has more features. I think both are great cars...but if I were you I'd at least try and get the GLS model. You will definately pay more for it.

    Safety goes to the Passat by a slight margin I believe...and they are about equal on reliablity according to Consumer Reports. I like the Passat slightly better myself, but the Camry just offers more for a lower or equal price.

    My vote goes to the Camry SE
  • mikek37mikek37 Posts: 411
    Reliability wise : The nod definitely goes to the Toyota.
  • gjacobsengjacobsen Posts: 6
    I have narrowed my choice for a daily commuter or weekend driver to either a Passat or Honda EX-v6 w/Nav.

    I have read about problems with both on this board. I drove them both and found the Passat to be more fun, but the Honda faster and a fun and efficient Navigation system. I plan on driving the car for 3 years and then it will pass on to my daughter for college. I asked her and she is happy to have either.

    Everyone here seems to know a lot about both cars so I would like more input other than from the salesmen. We live in Southern California so severe weather is not a factor.

    Thank you.
  • mikek37mikek37 Posts: 411
    Oh no.. here we go again.


    Flip a coin, and you have your car. Just purchase an extended warranty for the Passat. Then again the VW is gettin redesigned quite soon so that may play a role.
  • ronnocronnoc Posts: 7
    I went out car shopping last week and checked out both Camry and Accord. I was disappointed in both, for different reasons. I have owned 2 Camrys in the past, having prefered them for the greater smoothness and quiet, ability to get some features I wanted without sunroof and slightly more front seat leg room (I am 6' 4" with very long legs.) I could not get comfortable in the new Camry. The power seat now always comes forward when you raise it --you cannot get it back and up to accommodate long legs and shorter torso. Also I checked the stats and the new style gives up over 1.5" of front seat leg room over the previous style. I thought the Accord had a much improved driver's seat, very comfortable for me, but still more road noise than I like. And what happened to the back seat, leg room lost and tight head room. I don't believe there is single member of my immediate family who could ride comfortably in the back seat. I sat in the Avalon but with my left foot on the "dead clutch" position the brake release pedal is directly on my left lower shin. After sitting in these and other vehicles last week this brings me to the point of asking where are the vehicles that will comfortably seat at least four good size people with a tall driver who needs the seat all the way back that are also reliable, have reasonable gas mileage, don't cost an arm and a leg, and would be good in snow which would mean FWD or AWD. I really don't want a gas guzzling SUV.
  • mikek37mikek37 Posts: 411
    To be honest, other then an SUV or a Wagon, you will hard pressed to find a car that will fit someone has large as yourself. My father is also 6'4'', and he has a difficult time getting comfortable in my accord. On the other hand he fits very well in the Pilot ( even with the moonroof...if you can believe that).

    It will be difficult for you to find a car( Not an SUV) that will be able to fit your need ( The driver seat all the way back and still comfortable for the back seat passenger) The only cars I can tink of is maybe the Lincoln Town car, the Cadillac, the Buick, maybe the 300M, but then again these may be out of your budget.

    My suggestion, cut your legs off.. make things much easier for ya..
  • dougweaverdougweaver Posts: 48
    You may want to give the Highlander a look. Its a cross between a car and SUV. Rides smooth and seating is good for adults ... front and back seat. We love ours. dpw
  • hydra2hydra2 Posts: 114
    If you are dead set against a suv, then Mikek37 is probably right that your choices will be limited and will involve some type of trade off between maximum legroom on the one hand and cost, reliability and mpg on the other hand.

    Domestics give you the most front and rear legroom, Caddy, Buick, Town Car (especially the "L" with a whopping 47" max rear legroom). Chrysler Concorde might also be worth considering (its probably a bit roomier than the 300m). Their obvious trade off is their high cost, lower reliability and mpg. Although you could save a few $ by buying used with an extended warranty.

    Imports tend to be cheaper to buy and operate, but generally don't compete well with the domestics when you want maximum passenger and cargo room. This is partly because most imports are based on (sub)compact designs that have evolved into mostly midsized models.

    It looks like you may be forced to choose between an import branded midsized car (practical, but cramped for your needs) and a full (super) size domestic, roomy but more expensive to operate.

    Good luck on your choice.

    I hope you realize that Mike's final suggestion was tongue in cheek.
  • 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".
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