Last post on Feb 16, 2012 at 11:41 PM
You are in the Volkswagen Passat
What is this discussion about?
Volkswagen, Subaru, Wagon
Dec 08, 2001 (9:58 am)
I have been researching a new car to death for the last 18 months and have narrowed it down to 2 likely candidates VW GLS or GLX V6 Passat Wagon and Subaru Outback LL Bean H6. My heart says go with the Passat but my head says go with the Subaru. A dark horse is the new 2002 Honda CRV but I would rather stick with a wagon if I could.
I want something that drives like a car, has storage, interior room and style. I am a large man (6 foot 4) so little cars like a Jetta wagon are appealing but in the end too small. I can spend $25k - $30k.
My daily commute is short and in city but something that is a good high way driver is important too.
My wife and I have mountain bikes so something that can carry bikes inside or on a rack would be great.
Features I want include V6, leather, good safety, sporty drive, Wagon configuration. AWD is nice but not so necessary. I live in Ohio but have relatives we visit in Michigan and Minnesota which get their fair share of snow.
Long term reliability is my biggest concern on the VW. I am coming from a Honda and take reliability and good dealers for granted. Honda no longer makes an Accord wagon which is too bad.
There are 3 locak VW and Subaru dealers in central Ohio. The VW dealers seem a bit more upscale.
Several family members and friends who have owned various VW products are warning me off of the Passat. Admittedly these are older VWs and Audis that gave the troubles. The most recent example being a 1993 Westfalia Microbus my brother bought which basically fell apart with less than 100,000 miles. Another a late 80s Sirocco. The sense being that they are unreliable and expensive to fix after 5 years or so. A/C went out on Wesfalia taking an expensive timing belt with it. I am guessing that the Subaru would be less expensive to maintain.
If I buy a Passat wagon and it is a stinker I face the dreaded collective family I told you so . . . . .
I am a buy and hold type car purchaser. I want a car I can drive relatively trouble free for 10 years and 100,000 miles or more.
My current car a 1992 2 seater Honda Prelude still gives me the same thrill when I first bought it used in 1994. I park it far away to avoid door dings. I wash it every week and love the sporty drive it gives me. It has been very reliable, fun to drive and should have great resale.
The only knock on the Prelude is that it is the wrong configuration for me now. I am married, a home owner with kids expected in the next 24 months. None of these things were true when I bought the Prelude.
So when looking at Passat GLS Wagon and Subaru I love the interior and exterior of the Passat. It is more understated and refined. The seats are better and the back seat seems bigger.
The road feel on the Passat is also very nice.
I would appreciate opinions on reliability of recent VW owners and Subaru owners. Those who made similar choices what pushed you to one vehicle over the other?
Dec 08, 2001 (10:41 am)
Hi, my husband and I faced the same choice and he is at the VW dealership this morning negotiating the purchase of a GLX Passat Wagon
The things that made us choose a Passat are: my husband who is 6 ft tall cannot adjust the seat and steering wheel in the Subaru to fit him (no matter what configuration, the steering wheel is cutting into his thighs) - you should test it out being so tall yourself. We also felt that the Subaru's 6 cylinder engine was very poorly matched to its transmission (or vice versa), which resulted in jerky acceleration. The fit and finish in the Passat are much nicer and the seats infinitely more comfortable than Subaru's.
Just as you are, we were concerned with Passat's reliability, but with the new 4 year warranty it is not as huge of an issue as it was with the old 2 year warranty. If we see any significant issues come up in the fourth year, we'll get rid of it and go for something else.
Having said that, we have friends who are on their second Subaru Outback with absolutely no problems and they love it (4 cylinder though, not a V6).
#182 of 755 To - Izabella and John
Dec 08, 2001 (11:42 am)
Thanks for the the feedback on the purchase. Good luck with the VW Passat. I am sure you will love it.
I have driven both the Passat and the Outback on different days but I think I need to try them back to back.
Audi A4 was just named a car and driver 10 best car for 2002 and it shares many bits with the Passat so that is a good sign.
Honda CR-V 2002 is also a practical choice for us but lacks V6 and leather. I have to beleive the Honda would outlast the Subaru or Vw though.
Congrats on the new car! Please let us know how you like it!
#183 of 755 comparisons: my take
Dec 08, 2001 (1:30 pm)
Before I bought the Outback VDC, I had narrowed the choice between the Passat V6 and the VDC (A4 too small; A6 too expensive; Volvo XC too expensive and uncomfortable for me). I liked the interior looks and the transmission on the Passat; I preferred the exterior look, ride, quietness, stereo, reliability, and AWD technology on the VDC. I found the seat comfort about the same. The Outback won on the things important to me.
My neighbor just got a CR-V; it is a totally different car built on a smaller platform. The road feel in terms of ride, quietness, comfort are not at the same level of the other two cars.
Concerning reliabilty, I got rid of a car (Volvo 850 turbowagon) that I really liked because the relentless cost of repairs. I fully expect the Passat to have more repairs at higher costs than the Outback or CR-v. You need to be prepared for that, but if the Passat really wins in all the features you want, then take the risk.
BTW, I believe that the Outback will outlast the CR-v; heavier platform, the H6 engine versus the 4, proven AWD technolgy, and similar reliabilty projections.
Just my thoughts,
#184 of 755 Consumer Reports rates reliability slightly higher on Subaru
Dec 09, 2001 (8:11 am)
Thanks for the feedback Mike.
I picked up the latest 2001 Consumer Reports for 2002 model year cars at the book store last night.
The Subaru Outback topped the Passat on reliability (better than average for Subaru, average for Passat). But everywhere else in their ratings that Passat came out on top - overall ratings for Subaru Outback - very good and for Passat Wagon - excellent.
Of course Consumer Reports is just one opinion.
Mike -- did you look at all at the H6 LL Bean? That model fits more squarely in my price range. I think all it gives up to the VDC Outback is stereo and VDC system, am I wrong?
The Honda CR-V looks like it would meet the need for size etc BUT I'd like a little more like a V6 and leather. Plus I am not wild about the SUV image. I like the car more if I think of it as a Civic Wagon!
#185 of 755 Preferred Outback after back to back test drive
Dec 09, 2001 (2:57 pm)
Well I spent my Sunday afternoon test driving an LL Bean and a Passat back to back and I came away thinking that the Outback was the better choice.
It was quieter on the highway and I liked the feel better.
The Passat definitely had a more powerful motor and the back seat was better. But I liked the built in AWD on the Subaru. The Passat was sportier but louder and there were some disturbing unidentified rattles that popped up during the test drive.
So for me, for now, I think the Subaru LL Bean will get the nod.
Have to test drive a few more things before I decide in the coming months but for now the LL Bean is my top choice.
Dec 09, 2001 (3:24 pm)
Yes, I debated quite a bit between the Bean and the VDC. The differences are the stereo (which includes more sound insulation) and the VDC which also includes more bias toward rear wheel drive which I prefer. It also didn't include the Bean logo which my wife really didn't like. it really boils down to what is important to you. I do think pretty good deals can be made on both cars.
As a long time follower of Consumer Reports, I am a believer in their reliability ratings but you need to look at the trends to really understand reliability comparisons. Modern cars these days are all pretty reliable over their first three years so above or below average are not really meaningful in terms of long term reliabilty. You need to look at the trends over the seven or eight years to really see the long term impact of the brand. There is insufficient data on most VW brands to see the trend; however, where they do have data (Jetta / Golf) the trend is not favorable. It appears to me that the Passat will likely follow that trend as the car ages. The cars that have consistent above average ratings throughout ALL years of ownership and all makes are Toyota, Honda, and Subaru. For reference, look at the reliability histories in their 2002 buying guide or April issue of the magazine.
Concerning their rankings, you also need to read carefully how they rate cars based on their bias toward the standard family. Things like the Stereo and the VDC system are not really important to them, but are to me. I often use their articles to make buying decisions but seldom their bottom line rankings.
I think the Passat and the VDC (or Bean) are both excellent cars that appeal to slightly different drivers, but I truly don't believe that long term reliability will even be close, nor will the costs of those repairs.
#187 of 755 Rear wheel bias of VDC for Mikenk
Dec 10, 2001 (3:53 am)
Thanks for the info Mike.
Tell me more about the wheel bias on the VDC compared to other AWD Outbacks. Is this by virtue of the VDC system logic built in?
Where do they put the extra sound deadening for the VDC?
VDC and bean seemed very plush.
As far as price points go it seems like Subaru could push the H6 motor down the line to a cloth seat standard Outback for $2000 less than the bean. It was suggested by the dealer that they choose not too because they can only make so many H6 motors so they are going to put them in higher margin vehicles like the bean and vdc.
Dec 10, 2001 (4:54 am)
The normal front / rear distribution is 45/55 for the VDC. That is controlled by what Subaru calls the VTD (variable Torque Distribution) which is a part of the overall VDC system. I believe other outbacks are 80/20.
Supposedly, the extra sound insulation is in the door panels, the floorboard, dash area, and around the subwoofer.
For more info, go to the Edmunds "owners community home", then subaru, then click on VDC under Subaru resources. It takes a while to load but is pretty informative regarding your questions.
BTW, the cars acceleration has really improved over time, more than any car I have owned. I think it takes a while for all the AWD stuff to loosen up. I have also gone to all synthetics which might also be a part.
#189 of 755 Can You Help Me Find My Wagon?
Dec 10, 2001 (7:19 am)
I am very frustrated. A long time Subaru owner, I am now looking at trying another make. They do not have what I want. Does anyone? It wasn't so hard to find a few years ago. I would even consider a minivan though I don't really need that size. Here are my basic criteria:
1. Entirely and built in Japan or Germany without North American parts.
2. Excellent crash test results.
3. Long term reliability.
4. No Air Conditioning. I hate it and would rather open the windows.
5. Vinyl seats. We are dairy farmers and cloth absorbs barn smells. It absorbs the kid's mess too.
6. Manual windows.
7. Front wheel drive.
Is that so impossible? Apparently it is. Help!!!!