12 Best & Worst Volkswagen Passat Years (With Pictures)

The Volkswagen Passat is a classic midsize sedan that has roots dating back to 1973.

This model is recognized for its practicality, performance, and excellent build quality, all for a relatively affordable price. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best and worst model years of the Passat.

2022 Volkswagen Passat

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Volkswagen Passat Are:

The best Volkswagen Passat model years are 2022, 2021, 2018, 2016, 2009, and 2005. The worst model years of the Passat are 2013, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2014, and 2007. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Volkswagen Passat?

2022 Volkswagen Passat

The 2022 Passat marks the final model year of the nameplate as the German automaker has decided to focus on other vehicle lines.

In its final form, this version of the Passat does not disappoint. It provides a comfortable ride, spacious cabin and trunk, and a quality sound system powered by the famous Fender audio brand.

It is also one of the most reliable models to date, as VW has ironed out many of the kinks experienced by older models.

The only engine choice available is a trustworthy 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2022 Passat, Edmunds review:

“Love this car it has a lot of class and a lot of options Great on gas. The Passat is going to be missed”

2021 Volkswagen Passat

The 2021 Passat is the second installment of the 8th generation.

It has proven to be one of the better model years, not only in terms of reliability but also in terms of standard safety and infotainment features.

For 2021, adaptive cruise control was fitted as standard across the lineup.

One of the best features of this model is its cavernous trunk, it also boasts a spacious, upscale cabin.

It has scored good safety results from the IIHS and comes with a number of safety assists such as forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

  • Edmunds: 3.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2021 Passat, Edmunds review:

“No, it’s not a BMW, Audi, or Porsche (although some reviewers think it should be though). The Passat is comfortable, easy (and sometimes fun) to drive, reliable, and affordable (compared to the Japanese competition). Positives: It has plenty of rear seat leg room and a spacious trunk (way more than my 2010 Honda Accord had). Controls are accessible and easy to use. The display screen is I guess smaller than others but I really don’t want a 15” laptop screen sitting on my dashboard so it works for me.”

2021 Volkswagen Passat

2018 Volkswagen Passat

Despite lacking the style and boldness of direct competitors, the 2018 Passat is viewed as a great success for its quick acceleration, quiet ride, and comfortable seating.

The 2018 model received an updated four-cylinder engine that provided a little bit more power (174 horses) and improved fuel efficiency (29 miles per gallon for combined driving). 

If you need even more power then there is an optional V6 engine available.

The 2018 Passat makes our best list simply because it is one of the most reliable models produced, it also received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2018 Passat, Edmunds review:

“One of the things about the 2018 VW Passat that sold me on the car was the size and space of the rear trunk. The trunk space on the Passat is 15.9 cu. ft. I was going to to buy a Cadillac ATS or a Mercedes C330 however on both cars I could barely get 2 sets of golf clubs in the trunk. Even though they did fit there was no room for anything else. I was able to easily put 2 sets of golf clubs in the trunk of the Passat and still have ample room for a couple of overnight suitcases, golf shoes and a few other things…”

2018 Volkswagen Passat

2016 Volkswagen Passat

If you’re looking for a slightly older model that is great value, look no further than the 2016 Passat.

This model received a mild refresh of its exterior, an updated center stack, and full leather seating for the higher-end trim levels. 

It is available in front-wheel drive with a choice of two engines, a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V6.

Both of which have proven to be very reliable.

Standard safety features include ABS brakes, traction and stability control, a rearview camera, and airbags.

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2016 Passat, Edmunds review:

“I put this car through hell and back with all of the tough terrain on the Alaska Highway, Denali National Park, etc… The thing that amazed me most was the gas mileage. To my great surprise, I averaged 40 MPG with about 70% highway miles. The car performed flawlessly through all types of terrain and was very comfortable to drive.”

2009 Volkswagen Passat

The 2009 Passat received quite a few reductions in terms of engine and drivetrain options, but it is still one of the better model years out there for its great blend of ride comfort, handling, and upscale design.

This model comes exclusively with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that outputs 200 horsepower. 

In terms of fuel economy, EPA estimates stand at 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

Across the board, the 2009 Passat scored solid reviews from owners and auto critics alike.

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.1 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2009 Passat, Edmunds review:

“We have owned several VWs and this is by far the most comfortable on the road. Recently drove 1200 straight through with wonderful comfort. A great ride and fun to drive.”

2005 Volkswagen Passat

When it made its debut, the 2005 Passat was in a league of its own.

It possesses masterful handling, excellent value in its GL and GLS trim levels, and a spacious interior with a luxurious feel. 

This model has quite a lot of variety, too.

There are a total of 8 trim levels to choose from, beginning with the entry-level GL 1.8T variant and ending with the top-spec GLX 4Motion trim. 

This model has proven itself to be very reliable, and complaints filed on the NHTSA website are minimal.

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 3.9 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2005 Passat, Edmunds review:

“To be honest I haven’t had any problems with my 2005 VW. It has worked great, it is fun to drive maybe too fun….I get a lot of speeding tickets in it and I’ve been pulled over several times going like 5-10 over so maybe it looks fast too!? As for everything else I get regular inspections on the car and it works great. Just have to take [care] of it. Take it to the dealership at least once a year to run diagnostics and you’re good to go.”

Related: How Long Do Volkswagen Passats Last? (12 Important Facts)

Consumer Scores For Best Volkswagen Passat Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2022 Volkswagen Passat4.0 / 5.04.4 / 5.0NA
2021 Volkswagen Passat3.6 / 5.04.4 / 5.0NA
2018 Volkswagen Passat4.0 / 5.04.5 / 5.079 / 100
2016 Volkswagen Passat4.4 / 5.04.5 / 5.082 / 100
2009 Volkswagen Passat4.3 / 5.04.1 / 5.080 / 100
2005 Volkswagen Passat4.5 / 5.03.9 / 5.0NA

What Are The Worst Years For The Volkswagen Passat?

2013 Volkswagen Passat

According to statistics from both CarComplaints.com and CarProblemZoo.com, the 2013 Passat is the most problematic model year to have ever been produced by VW.

The most prominent issue stemmed from airbag malfunction.

Owners reported faulty airbag sensors, intermittent airbag warning indicator illumination, and steering wheel controls malfunctioning as a result of poorly installed airbags. 

The 2013 Passat had a total of 82 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 890 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Clock spring failure
  • Air conditioning blowing hot air
  • Fluid migration into electrical system
2013 Volkswagen Passat

1999 Volkswagen Passat

The 1999 Volkswagen Passat was riddled with numerous problems, ranging from electronics issues all the way down to transmission and fluid problems.

The most frequently reported concern, however, was the anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction which affected numerous of owners of this model.

According to reports, the control module of the ABS was defective which rendered the safety feature unusable. 

The 1999 Passat had a total of 12 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 850 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Will not go into gear
  • Windows fall into door
  • Leaking oil

2003 Volkswagen Passat

CarComplaints.com bestowed upon the 2003 Passat the title, “Avoid like the plague.”

This model had a lot of unusual issues. Most of these issues seemed to have originated from the engine and engine cooling system.

Symptoms such as smoke arising from under the hood or a pungent burning oil smell were widely reported.

These indicators stemmed from various issues, such as ignition coil failure, improper circulation of engine fluids, and cylinder misfires. 

The 2003 Passat had a total of 194 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 809 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Oil sludge
  • Engine failure
  • Low oil pressure

2006 Volkswagen Passat

CarComplaints.com bestowed upon the 2003 Passat the title, “Beware of the clunker.”

This model’s engine was the biggest source of headaches for a lot of owners. 

According to several reports, owners experienced loss of engine power, inability to accelerate, and also a failure of the airbag system.

The 2006 Passat had a total of 105 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 754 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Car would not start
  • Engine failure
  • Camshaft unusual wear and tear 

2014 Volkswagen Passat

Much like some of the other model years on this list, the 2014 Passat was plagued by all kinds of airbag-related faults and malfunctions.

Reports have specified the clockspring as the main culprit of the numerous problems experienced by owners.

The clockspring is a part embedded in the steering wheel that is in charge of allowing the steering wheel to turn without affecting airbag functionality. 

Therefore, a faulty clockspring would inevitably lead to a lot of airbag-related issues. 

The 2014 Passat had a total of 52 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 684 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Steering wheel buttons malfunction
  • Engine loss of power
2014 Volkswagen Passat

2007 Volkswagen Passat

The 2007 Passat faced familiar issues as numerous owners have specified airbag problems as the most prominent concern.

Numerous recall campaigns were instituted for this model, but due to widespread problems and parts unavailability, a lot of back orders and repairs were not fulfilled in a timely fashion. 

The 2007 Passat had a total of 29 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 349 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common problems:

  • Timing chain failure
  • Engine failure
  • Injectors failure

Reported Problems Per Model Year

Listed below are the number of reported complaints for each VW Passat model year.

This is based on data from CarProblemZoo.com, a site that tracks NHTSA customer reports, and also CarComplaints.com, a site where owners can lodge complaints.

Model YearComplaints
2022 Volkswagen Passat5
2021 Volkswagen Passat07
2020 Volkswagen Passat98
2019 Volkswagen Passat017
2018 Volkswagen Passat642
2017 Volkswagen Passat9127
2016 Volkswagen Passat30130
2015 Volkswagen Passat38320
2014 Volkswagen Passat52684
2013 Volkswagen Passat82890
2012 Volkswagen Passat63620
2011 Volkswagen Passat22
2010 Volkswagen Passat40220
2009 Volkswagen Passat21211
2008 Volkswagen Passat29233
2007 Volkswagen Passat29349
2006 Volkswagen Passat105754
2005 Volkswagen Passat34171
2004 Volkswagen Passat56346
2003 Volkswagen Passat194809
2002 Volkswagen Passat112774
2001 Volkswagen Passat38555
2000 Volkswagen Passat39618
1999 Volkswagen Passat12850
1998 Volkswagen Passat5474
1997 Volkswagen Passat1104
1996 Volkswagen Passat4186

What Problems Do Volkswagen Passat Have?

  • Oil sludge resulting in engine failure
  • Low oil pressure
  • Sensor malfunction
  • Car would not start
  • Engine failure
  • Camshaft unusual wear and tear
  • Clock spring failure
  • Air conditioning blowing hot air
  • Fluid migration into electrical system
  • Heater does not work
  • Turbocharger failed
  • Gear slippage
  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Steering wheel buttons malfunction
  • Engine loss of power

Related: 7 Most Common Volkswagen Passat Problems (Explained)

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Volkswagen Passat?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Honda Accord8.9$26,120 – $38,050City: 22 – 30 /Highway: 32 – 38
Kia K58.2$25,090 – $31,490City: 24 – 27 /Highway: 32 – 37
Toyota Camry8.0$25,945 – $36,370City: 22 – 28 /Highway: 31 – 39
Volkswagen Sonata7.9$24,950 – $34,975City: 23 – 28 /Highway: 33 – 38
Nissan Altima7.9$24,750 – $34,450City: 25 – 28 /Highway: 34 – 39
Subaru Legacy7.8$24,395 – $37,695City: 23 – 27 /Highway: 31 – 35
Volkswagen Passat7.4$27,575 – $30,575City: 24 /Highway: 36
Chevrolet Malibu7.0$25,000 – $31,500City: 22 – 29 /Highway: 33 – 36

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com


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