Midsize car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,500 – $2,400*


1995 Volkswagen Passat 4-door sedan


1995 Volkswagen Passat 4-door wagon


1995 Volkswagen Passat GLS 4-door sedan


1997 Volkswagen Passat GLX 4-door wagon


1997 Volkswagen Passat GLX 4-door sedan

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy (TDI)
  • Traction control (GLX)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • No glovebox
  • Ride (GLX)

Roomy, sporty, well-equipped: All told, this is an interesting and competent alternative to Japanese-brand sedans.

Overview

Volkswagen extensively revamped its compact sedan and station wagon for 1995, though using mechanical components similar to those in the 1990-94 version. Passats got a “waterfall” grille and integrated rear spoiler. Dual airbags and manual 3-point seatbelts with emergency tensioners replaced motorized front belts. The GLX model, available as either a sedan or wagon, came with ample equipment and Volkswagen’s narrow-angle 2.8-liter V6 engine. A value-leading GLS model, added later in the 1995 model year, came only as a sedan, powered by a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Both models came standard with a 5-speed manual transmission, and a 4-speed automatic was optional. Antilock 4-wheel disc brakes were standard on the GLX, and optional on the GLS.

Yearly Updates

1996 Passat
A new high-mileage Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engine emerged during 1996. TDI Passats came only with 5-speed manual shift. New daytime running lights caused headlamps to illuminate automatically, at reduced intensity, whenever the ignition was switched on.
1997 Passat
After barely more than a year’s run, the 4-cylinder gasoline GLS Passat dropped out, due to lack of buyer interest. Otherwise, Passats changed little. Passats were fully redesigned for 1998, related to the Audi A4.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Volkswagen’s narrow-angle 2.8-liter V6 engine was available from the start, installed in GLX sedans and wagons and producing 172 horsepower. A 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline engine went into the GLS sedan, offered only in late 1995 and ’96. The Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) engine has been available since mid 1996. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard on all models. Only gasoline engines could be equipped with an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 122
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/29
20/27
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.8/170
Engine HP 172
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/26
18/25
19.8
Turbodiesel ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.9/116
Engine HP 90
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 149
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

38/47

37.7

Road Test

Though not as strong or smooth as the engine in a Toyota Camry or Nissan Maxima, Passat’s V6 delivers more than adequate power over a broad range of speeds. The manual shift’s clutch and gearshift work smoothly. Passat’s 4-speed automatic transmission does its job unobtrusively and downshifts promptly for passing. Naturally, the 4-cylinder GLS is slower in both standing-start acceleration and highway passing, but still adequate. For a real eye-opener, take a spin in the diesel-powered TDI edition. Our long-term test of a TDI revealed adequate power and a relatively high degree of refinement. You also get outstanding fuel economy. We’ve averaged 37.7 mpg, hitting 45 mpg during highway trips.

A softened suspension and stiffened body structure in this generation yield improved ride quality. A Passat GLX still offers sporty handling, but absorbs bumps with less harshness. The TDI’s suspension is softer yet, thus trading some handling prowess for greater composure over bumps.

Controls for the radio and climate system are high in the center of the dashboard, easy to see and reach. The climate system is controlled by three clearly marked rotary knobs. Oddly, too, switches for front power windows are on door armrests, while those for rear windows are on the dashboard–a Volkswagen quirk. Because of the passenger-airbag mounting position, no glovebox is installed. Interior storage is nevertheless adequate.

Despite the Passat’s compact 103.3-inch wheelbase, its interior is exceptionally roomy–especially in back, with ample leg room and enough head space for 6-footers. Both body styles have a split folding rear seat. The sedan has a large trunk, with a flat floor and bumper-height opening for easy loading/unloading. Wagons have a flat, wide cargo area that provides generous luggage space.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 47

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.3 180.0 67.5 56.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.4 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 36.6 41.5 37.0
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.3 179.9 67.5 58.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
68.9 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 38.3 41.5 37.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Passat 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 119
Injury 107
Theft 65

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Models equipped with a variable-displacement A/C compressor may not cool properly due to restrictions in the system. (1995-96)
Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmission may shift erratically due to an incorrect throttle angle setting. (1995-96)
Coolant leak
Description: A low-coolant-level malfunction can be the result of the wrong concentration of antifreeze or a bad coolant sensor. (1995-96)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant loss on 2.8-liter engines could result from damaged oil cooler hoses. Hoses might be damaged during oil changes. (1995-97)
Hard starting
Description: Intermittent no-start or stalling condition is often due to the #3 relay. No trouble codes are stored in computer. (1995-97)
Manual transmission
Description: The manual-transmission shift lever may knock or vibrate in forward gears requiring realignment of the selector shaft housing. (1995-96)
Wipers
Description: The windshield wipers may chatter because of misalignment of the wiper arms. (1996)

Recall History

1995 w/VR6 engine
Description: Radiator-fan-motor shaft could wear, become noisy and seize, rendering fan motor inoperative and eventually causing engine to overheat and stall.
1996
Description: The ignition switch can fail causing the headlights and windshield wipers to become inoperative.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.