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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Volkswagen Passat Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Volkswagen Passat Overview

Everything You Need and Then Some

In 1998 Volkswagen launched the New Passat, a car that would revolutionize the image of the family sedan and cause a major design-quake throughout the automotive industry. So good was the Passats design that many competitors are still struggling to catch up to the car five years after its introduction. For 2003, the basic Passat architecture remains unchanged from that of the 1998 car, but VW has made numerous improvements to the vehicles performance, styling and creature comforts. If you are looking for a safe, roomy, comfortable vehicle that offers genuine German performance at an affordable price, there is only one place to look: your local VW dealer.

That which makes the Passat such a great vehicle lies just beneath its sheet metal. The Passat is built from the Audi A4 platform, and so by default it inherits a superior suspension, drivetrain and technical sophistication lacking in other mid-range family sedans. The car is very roomy, especially in its wagon form, with seating for five adults, a cavernous cargo hold, generous backseat legroom and some of the most comfortable seating youll find in any car. Attention to detail can be found everywhere in the Passat and even the base model comes standard with such items as a passenger side manual lumbar support, one-touch up/down power windows, silicon-dampened assist handles, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, ABS brakes, air conditioning and an AM/FM/CD stereo with cassette.

The Passat also scores big points in the safety arena. Volkswagen clearly shows its commitment to its customers by outfitting the Passat with a number of safety features that are optional on other vehicles—or in some cases not even available on lower trim levels. Front air bags, front side-impact air bags and a full curtain side head protection airbag are all standard equipment; so is the LATCH system, automatic seat belt tensioners for front and rear passengers, adjustable head restraints at all seating positions, and an interlocking rear seatbelt system that will not allow the belt to be moved unless the rear seatback is locked into place. Numerous crumple zones and a well-designed passenger cage are the primary reasons for the Passat's excellent performance in both the government and the Insurance Institutes crash tests.

Out on the road, the Passats precise steering and excellent brakes create the feel of an expensive European touring sedan and the optional Tiptronic automatic transmission allows you the option of rowing your own gears without the use of a clutch pedal (a 5-speed manual is standard). Power for the GL and GLS models come from VWs excellent 1.8-liter turbo-charged engine that produces 170 horsepower. The 1.8T (T for turbo) engine is so smooth and so quick you will swear it is a V6. More impressive is the way it sips fuel, returning an amazing 31 miles per gallon on our long highway drives. For those who need more power and low-end torque, you should look to the GLS V6 and GLX models with their potent 2.8-liter V6 engines. The ultimate Passat, the W8, comes with a 270-horsepower eight-cylinder engine, 4-Motion all-wheel drive and every possible convenience as standard equipment. For the money, there is no other eight-cylinder German sedan that even comes close to the W8s under $40K price tag. By the way, the W in W8 refers to the shape of the cylinders in the block; unlike a V8, which has its cylinder banks in a V formation, the W8 employs two overlapping V shapes to form a W.

One look inside the Passat and you'll begin to understand why its Audi roots play such an important role in the car's success. Both the driver and passenger have height-adjustable seats and adjustable lumbar support. The dash design is cleanly sculpted and is covered in materials usually found on far more luxurious cars. At night, glowing sharp-red indicator needles overlay cool blue gauge faces to make for a light show that brings cries of "oh wow" from first-time passengers. With the exception of the steering-wheel-mounted controls, everything is properly backlit for nighttime drivingeven the vent open/close controls on the dashboard light up! There is a solid feeling to this car; the doors close with a confident "thud" and wind and tire noise never get past the thick insulation that surrounds the passenger cabin.

Volkswagen backs the Passat with a 4-year/50,000 mile warranty that includes round-the-clock roadside assistance provided by AAA.

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