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Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry vs. Volkswagen Passat



  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    LOL...just trying to add a bit of humor to the board.

    BTW: My wifes Accord was almost perfect until the 70K mile diagnosis. But, for $5,200 for a new transmission we thought that was a little too steep. We soon sold it to CarMax for top $$
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647

    Lead me to the place you refer to on the "net" that say's VWs burn oil.

    I know about the sludge problem, which can be avoided if you use the correct oil and change it on schedule. I've always used Mobil 1, I figure it's cheap insurance, and I've never needed to add oil between changes.
  • Does reliability mean that nothing ever goes wrong with the car? If that's the criteria, the Passat is an unreliable car.

    If reliability is that the car starts in the morning, and doesn't leave you stranded in the middle of a freeway? Then the Passat has been quite reliable in my experience.
  • "QUESTION: ----Does the owner's manual tell the new owner to drive the vehicle "HARD"? Volkswagen has a problem with their engines, with regards to oil"

    This is based on my 20+ years of experience of driving and working on VWs, as well as my discussions with VW dealer mechanics, as well as several independent VW mechanics in my area. And when I mentioned you should drive the vehicle HARD, I don't mean doing burnouts on a drag strip or try the emulate the drivers on the "Fast and the Furious". Drive new VW's normally as though as the car has already been broken in. You won't find this tidbit of information in ANY owner's manual, VW or otherwise.

    Are there VW lemons out there? Plenty. But with the exception of my first VW, It's amazing that the VW's I've owned have been quite reliable.

    Here's my secret.

    1) Never, ever purchase a car during the first year or two model-years of production. These cars will have bugs! Based on the increase in recalls by most manufacturers across the board, I cannot emphasize this point any further. It takes at least a couple of model years to get the bugs worked out. I even took the extra step during my purchases: 1987 Golf GT (third model year for MK2 (second generation) body style), 1997 Jetta Trek (fifth and final MK3 model year), and 2003 Jetta Wolfsburg Edition (sixth MK4 model year).

    2)All cars need periodic maintenance (German cars especially) in order to keep them running reliably.
    This includes - regular oil changes within the manufacturer's specifications, brake fluid and engine coolant replaced every two years, belts replaced every 4-7 years (or evidence of physical wear - whichever comes first), tires rotated every 5K-10K miles, periodically checking the air pressure in the tires (I've seen more than my share of drivers with blowouts due to improperly inflated tires), checking the brake pads (some drivers are harder on brakes than others). Car owners will have better odds of having a reliable vehicle by following these guidelines than those who don't.

    Most people (with their busy schedules) don't make the time to do this, then complain when the vehicle falls apart before its time. Vehicle failures due to a manufacturing flaw is one thing - and is a legitimate gripe. Vehicle failures due to poor or neglected maintenance (which occurs much more frequently than the former) - is another matter altogether - and is no excuse IMHO. People who lease their vehicles are some of the biggest offenders of neglecting the proper maintenance for their vehicles (with the exception of the exterior), because they know they can roll their vehicle for a newer one at the end of each lease.

    3)Drivers who have shorter commutes to work tend to have more problems with their vehicles than drivers
    who have longer (mostly highway driving) commutes.
    Shorter commuters tend to use their brakes more frequently and sit in traffic longer (increasing the risk of overheating the engine). And most importantly, the benefits of highway mileage on a car is a result of the engine having the proper time to burn off acids, water and other contaminants that form in the motor oil when the car sits overnight - resulting in a reduction in engine wear.

    This advice applies to all makes, VW, Honda, Ford Model T, etc....
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    "Once again, Passat reliability for 03' is very good in Consumer Reports 2005 Buying Guide, in fact the pattern indicates that VW reliability has been steadily improving each year. They don't show anything newer than 03' because these are long term results.Passat is actually as good as Accord and Camry for 03', better than Mercedes (which is not saying a lot lately) and better than BMW, especially the 7 series."

    I just got my CR 2005 Buying Guide. I don't want to make a big deal about this, but you'd better check again, because it seems you misinterpreted their results. The Guide matches their web site exactly. Both the 4 and V6 versions of the '03 Passat were awarded a "-" or black dash, which is average overall reliability, according to their key. While this is an improvement over the series of black X's (meaning below-average overall reliability) this generation got in its earlier years, the highest reliability rating for any Passat listed in the Guide is average.

    While this does surpass the high priced German nameplates as you stated, along with more expensive big brother Audi A6, the Passat's rating is not as good as Accord or Camry for '03 or for any listed year, for that matter. For all listed years, both the Accord and Camry were given a "black check", which means better-than-average overall reliability, beating out the assortment of average and below-average overall reliability scores given to the Passat from 1998 thru 2003.

    Again, not trying to make a big deal about this, just striving for accuracy.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    When you look at the CR chart for the 03' Passats, the results for all the trouble spots are problems in 2.0% or less vehicles, which is above average in all categories but one on the 6 cyl. and two on the 4 cyl. There are no average or below average results.
    So what's accurate? That should add up to better than average.
    Go figure...
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647

    I agree with EVERYTHING you said about the maintainance of these fine German cars, except for one thing. I had a VW mechanic tell me that you never have to change the coolant on the newer VW's, that topping it off when needed is enough to keep it fresh. It's supposed to be topped off at each service.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    I asked their people about this regarding the Mazda 6. I had made the same assumption with that car. Here's what I asked them:

    "I'm a bit curious about the details behind why the reliability of the 6 is rated so low. Wouldn't it follow that there would be some issues with the individual categories to go along with this? Yet the '03 model is rated excellent in 7 categories, very good in 4, and good in 3, with nothing lower. I guess for the car to get a below average rating for overall reliability, I'd expect to see at least one or two categories in which the car was rated fair or poor.

    What am I missing?"

    Their reply was that I was missing the fact that the overall reliability verdict is based on comparing each car's reliability to the "average" car's reliability in each one of those problem areas - a relative measurement. Each of those "blobs" corresponds to a % of occurrance - an absolute measurement. That's where the disconnect lies.

    Since nearly new cars are nearly troublefree (with most of those blobs being very good or excellent), even a low occurrance of problems can correspond to a below average reliability verdict.

    So the average score is indeed accurate. The final score isn't the "sum" of the individual scores, but the overall comparison of the car's score to the average car.

    For example, compare the '03 Accord, '03 Camry and the '03 Passat.

    The Camry gets a very good in one category and the other 13 are all excellent. The Camry gets a much better than average overall score.

    The Accord gets a good in one category and a very good in another. The other 12 are excellent. The Accord gets a better than average overall score.

    The Passat has 2 goods, 5 very goods and 7 excellents. Although it doesn't look all that bad when you look at the Passat's scores by themselves, you can see that that both the Camry and the Accord did noticably better. Hence the Passat's average score.

    That's their explanation. If you have further questions, you'll have to ask the CR editors.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Great summary, thanks!
  • The VW mechanic you spoke with is correct about not needing to change the coolant except for one thing that was not mentioned - when the timing belt gets changed on the newer models, it is highly recommended that the water pump is changed as well (which requires draining the coolant - in that case new coolant is usually added). The reason being is that some "genius" at VW decided to have the water pump's components made out of plastic instead of the aluminum water pumps they've been using for years (and I've changed more than my share of the aluminum water pumps when I had the 1975 Scirocco and the 1987 Golf GT).

    Most people nowadays either lease their cars or sell/trade them with low mileage. So on balance the owners of these cars will not have to worry about having the coolant changed (barring mechanical faiures)...
  • ljwalters1ljwalters1 Posts: 294
    I have to question the statements about VWs poor quality, and think they should go to the VW Problems & Fixes board to pout about them. I just turned my 2001.5 VW (5 spd GLX) in after a 4 year lease and I was very happy with the workmanship. I even sought to extend my lease for a year, but couldn't make the #s work. I had only 1 engine issue in the 4 years, and it was fixed under the extended warranty. Never had a problem with the oil, transmission or anything else, and I drove the car pretty hard. I found its quality to be above average with great materials inside.

    If you go on any of the "Problem" boards, you'll find every car has serious glitches come up. CR has consistently rated VWs high on quality and customer satisfaction, and I think that reputaton is justly deserved.

    I now drive an '04 Acura TL, and while it is a little more upscale and a lot faster, the VW fit and finish was comparable enough that if the new model Passat had come out, I would have seriously considered it.
  • venus537venus537 Posts: 1,443
    the new passat looks like it's heading right into TL territory or even audi A6 turf.

    i'm sure the passat is going to be one fine car but i'm wondering why VW is abandoning the low end of the market? the new jetta is essentially replacing the existing passat.
  • venus537venus537 Posts: 1,443
    CR has consistently rated VWs high with their road tests/material quality but rates them poorly (some very poorly) reliability wise. i think there's only one model (V6 passat?) that's currently recommended.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    The reliability of the 04' 4 cyl.Passat in the April 05' Consumer Reports is almost perfect (P.93)! The 6 cyl.falls short in transmission.
    I would believe the results in CR before I would base my opinion on a car's reliability from these forums. I think people who are dissatisfied with their cars tend to complain, while those that are happy are mostly silent.
    It will be interesting to see if the 04' Passat can maintain that quality long term.
  • 03accordman03accordman Posts: 671
    Looks very nice inside and out, except for the back (IMO). It surely is now moving into the TL/A6/G35/325 segment, and I guess soon we would have to close this board, bacause I don't see these three cars competing with each other anymore, the price difference is going to be quite substantial. I hope there is an affordable version of the 2.0T Passat. Still to compete with Accords/Camrys that start around 18k well equipped, I think the Jetta is going to come into focus more.
  • venus537venus537 Posts: 1,443
    what's the overall reliability of the 04 passat? that would be listed near the front of the magazine where's it's compared to other cars in its class. you'll see it's not almost perfect.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    As I said, the Passat is covered on page 93 of the April 05' CR. The 04' 1.8T has all red circles except for "electrical", which is a half red circle. Red circles mean the reliability is much better than average, based on 810000 responses to the CR subscriber survey for 204 models.
  • venus537venus537 Posts: 1,443
    i guess i'll let you know the page number to look for when i get the april 05 issue myself. the overall reliability of the 04 passat is not way above average.
  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017

    You will note that Consumer Report's April 2005 Annual Auto Issue, based upon the latest survey of 810,000 vehicle owner responses, contains the following information:

    Pages 6 & 7 "Top Picks - The Best Models in 10 Categories" do not contain any European brands (i.e. no VWs).

    Page 8 "Which cars would people get again" The "Most Satisfying" list does not contain any VWs.

    Page 18 "How New Cars Are Likely To Hold Up" predicted "2005 New-Car Reliability - How the Makes Compare" table of 36 brands, places VW #32 out of 36 (i.e. worse than average).

    Page 31 "Quick Picks" of recommeded vehicles in the following categories: "High ratings in all areas", "If reliability is important", "If fuel economy is important", If overall safety is important" and "If owner satisfaction is important". Only one VW, the Passat GLX (V6), appeared in one category - Overall Safety.

    Page 33 Passat GLX (V6) shown as Predicted Average Reliability.

    Page 77 Vehicle Profiles - Passat GLX (V6) shown as Predicted Average Reliability. Although the model is given a "Recommended" checkmark, they state "Reliability of the AWD model dropped to below average."

    Page 82 "Reliability Scores" CR states "Scores for each trouble spot represent the percentage of survey respondents who reported problems occurring in the 12 months from April 1, 2003 through March 31, 2004 that were deemed serious because of cost, failure, compromised safety or downtime." A full red circle means 2% or less (of respondents with problems). A half red circle means 2% to 5%. A full white circle means 5% to 9%. A half black circle means 9.3% to 14.8%. A full black circle means more than 14.8%. CR states that "to see how a 2005 or 2006 model.. is likely to hold up, (they) averaged a model's Reliability Verdict scores for the last three years... found that three years' data are a better predictor than is the single-most-recent model year." They further state "2004 models were generally less than six months old at the time of the survey, with an average of about 3,000 miles. Vehicles that new should have few problems, so a score of (a half-red circle) or worse is below average for most."

    Page 93 (the page that you have been quoting) Of the 15 "Trouble Spots" surveyed, the 2004 Passat V6 & AWD received one half black circle (transmission) and three half red circles (brakes, power equipment & body hardware). Thus, the verdict of Worse-than-average reliability for that year.

    Yes, the 4-cylinder model came up with better 2004 results, but they should be suspect since both versions use basically the same brakes, power equipment and body hardware. Since there were too many half and full black circles in earlier years, only time will tell.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    If you think VW makes unreliable cars...............DO NOT BUY ONE. I have owned 2 VW's (Jetta and Passat) and have had ZERO problems with both. So, I hate to see people miss out on such a great car as the Passat because of CR findings. I completely agree, the Passat will NOT be as relaible as an Accord. But, I (personally) would rather have the Passat driving experience than the Accord driving experience and risk venturing to the service department more often....

    To each their own!!!
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Posts: 1,978

    If you agree that the Passat is NOT as reliable as the Accord and you had ZERO problems with the Passat, does that mean that the Accord would have less than zero problems or actually fix its own problems. WOW! The Honda Accord, a self-healing car.

    MidCOW - Now on the Accord bandwagon
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    NO, I am not saying that. I am one person, definitely not a statistical sample. I was just giving my PERSONAL experience, no less no more!!! Also, I never predicted the number of problems the Passat or Accord would have. It's a known fact.....VW's are less reliable than Honda's.
  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017

    You stated "I hate to see people miss out on such a great car as the Passat because of CR findings." Please realize that the results of Consumer Report's published survey are not "CR findings" as much as they are the actual owner/drivers' findings as reported by thousands of those individuals on their annual CR questionnaire.

    I understand that the Passat is a fine driving car. However, my experiences with electrical system problems with my two VW Rabbits soured me on the company years ago. They were decent to drive though.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Understood! By saying CR findings, I guess I should of been clearer. I have subscribed to CR for over 10 yrs now, so I realize its the readers that provide the meat of the information. I meant that CR accumulates and interprets all the survey info........

    2 VW Rabbits? How long ago did you own these?
  • ljwalters1ljwalters1 Posts: 294
    I guess I'm a little outdated. When I got my 2001.5 Passat GLX (6 cyl), consumer reports picked it as the top choice in its class, and it got good ratings for reliability even though it was the 1st year of a redesign. I'm pretty confident that the 2002 did well too. Furthermore, I never had more than minor problems, and haven't had too many of those either. I'm driving an Acura TL now b/c I wanted some more power and the newer model passat wasn't out yet, but I'm still on this message board defending the Passat. That should speak to my appreciation of the car as well. For the gentleman who soured on VW b/c of the old Rabbits, both my parents and in-laws advised against the Passat, probably b/c of the memories you have, too. But they've changed their minds after driving mine!

    Did the car start "turning bad" in 2003? Seems like CR had drastic changes in their findings after the 1st too years of the current model's production?
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Maybe the surveyed sample got larger, therefore, more issues may of later years.
  • ljwalters1ljwalters1 Posts: 294
    On consumer reports online, the VW Passat 4 cyl, 4 cyl wagon and 6 cyl sedan all were "recommended" picks.

    On their ratings sheet, the '03 and '04 are rated "very good" for reliability.
  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017

    My VW Rabbits were both purchased new. A '75 (first year for the Rabbit in the US) and an '80. As I recall, I put about 104K miles on the '75. Of course we all know that the Golf was just a rebadged Rabbit. And the Jetta was just a Golf with a trunk grafted on.
  • 03accordman03accordman Posts: 671
    Ok folks, I am in the market for a midsize sedan. I already own an 03 Accord that I love, but obviously I would like some thing different now. Have shortlisted the Camry and Passat, though the ALtima and Mz6 are in my mind too.

    The must haves are ABS, side and side curtain airbags and vehicle stability control, nee ESP. This brings it down to Camry v/s Passat, since the Accord anyway does not have VSA. I would prefer the drive of the Passat, but over the past year having seen so many issues (agreed, minor), I am not sure what I would be jumping into. This car would be doing a 100 mile daily commute, so I can't spend time at dealerships. The Camry would be a safe choice, however, I do prefer the sportier ride of the Passat, so its turning to be a dilemma. Also, there is a new Passat coming out, which is supposed to be expensive and I probably can't wait till then.

    What say you?
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Posts: 1,978
    Given you requirements, get a Jetta. You can get ESP. If you want to save $3,000 buy the old version 2005. There is a new version Jetta 2005, biggere engine, more room, 2.5 cylinder 5 cyl other modes TDI coming in June, but bigger price.

    Good Luck,

    MidCow the Manual Shift Man
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