2008 Volkswagen Passat Turbo – A Great Value…Depending on Options

Expert Reviews Volkswagen


For a sticker price of $25K, you’re getting a lot in the interior department. It’s well appointed, and much to our surprise, it even came with slick little manual sun shades in the back. There’s tons of room both for front and rear passengers, and the rear seats fold flat for a whopping amoung of cargo space. The base stereo was surprisingly simple, and quite refreshing, although we would have liked steering wheel audio controls. Speaking of steering wheels, the wheel was really the only item in the Passat’s interior which stood out as cheap. It was a fully plasticky, rubbery affair, definitely not on par with the rest of the interior.

We’re really happy overall with the interior, but there are a few nits to pick. For instance, what is the deal with the keyless ignition system? It’s lame to the power of 10 and unnecessary to the power of 20. I still don’t get it. What’s wrong with a key? It’s worked for over 1,000 years. Why do car makers feel the need to improve something that doesn’t need to be improved? At least with some, it’s a fully electric deally-o, not requiring you to put it in any slot or holder. But with the Passat, it’s mechanical, and particuarly rage inducing when paired the manual transmission. Stall the car, and you have to push, pull and fiddle the key out of its slot to get it to re-start. It’s not a deal-breaker, but honestly, doesn’t VW already have enough mechanical and electrical demons going on with their cars?

And what’s with the electric emergency brake? Isn’t the whole point of an emergency brake to be mechanical in case the car’s electrical or hydraulic system fails? If VW’s window switch failure rate is any foretelling of their electric e-brake, you better cut a hole in the floorboard just in case you need to pull a Fred Flintstone.


Nothing earth-shaking here. A solid, attractive look that won’t turn heads but won’t make people cringe with disgust either. We’re more partial to the Passat’s front end than the rear, and if you ever decide to operate the trunk opener with the key fob, just make sure there’s nobody within a foot of the trunk lid, because if it catches someone under the chin, they’re gonna get airborne.


With the Passat, the value is in the details. In the base Turbo trim, we think the Passat is a terrific value. For $25K, you really do get the essentials of a German luxury sedan, albeit without a fancy-schmancy navigation system, an automatic transmission or real leather seats. But as you step up the option ladder, the value case for the Passat crumbles. At $30K you’re still all right, but anything much beyond that, and it’s time to reconsider.

Who Should Buy It?

Well, if you’re one of those who VW identified as a person who want a German luxury sedan without the German luxury price, the Passat is definitely worth a look. Added bonus if you love an enthusiastic, turbo-charged engine which gets remarkable fuel economy.


Aside from the minor electro-mechanical niggles, we really enjoyed our time with the Passat. It was especially enjoyable getting 34 mpg on our freeway jaunt, but not nearly as satisfying as feeling the full-bore boost of the 2.0T. By building a well-equipped machine which possesses the virtues of a German luxury sedan at a reasonable price, VW has experienced much success over the years with the Passat. But with a price range of nearly $20K from base to fully-optioned, the Passat can either be a terrific value or a downright rip-off. So in the end, it’s up to the buyer and how the car is equipped.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.0 4.0 5.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 4.0/B

VW of AmericaOfficial website for Volkswagen of America – www.vw.com

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