This is a product review of the 1994 Volkswagen Passat GLX-sort of. Late last year, we approached Volkswagen of America in search of a Passat GLX test vehicle. Officials there responded enthusiastically with a 1993 model, explaining that the '94 model was not yet available.
In addition to assurances that Volkswagen engineers had made very few changes on the '94 version of the Passat GLX, we were provided with enough product information to uncover any subtle differences in product features, equipment or configuration.
Timing aside, our initial positive impression of this midsize sedan compelled us to proceed with our review. We think many of you comparison shoppers ill be glad we did. First, because we discovered a meticulously constructed, high-performance sports sedan. And second, because we suspect those of you who are intrigued by our review might want to postpone your purchase decision until you've had a chance to conduct your own test drive.
[Editor's note: The 1994 Passat GLX finally reached the showroom floors in late January, after our press deadline. But that's not the last you'll hear from Volkswagen in the coming months: The 1995 Passat GLX will be released midyear, complete with dual air bags and an impact-resistant front end.]
The midsize sedan category is filled with a good number of cleverly styled, nicely finished, impressive looking automobiles. That said, we think the Volkswagen Passat GLX four-door sedan belongs in a class by itself. After completing a once-around of our test vehicle, we were firmly convinced that a legion of perfectionists must be on this German automaker's payroll.
Our Passat GLX had a deep, lustrous Classic Green coat, a deviation-free fit and one-of-a-kind styling. The absence of a grille, combined with a long coach roof and near-slab sides, worked to give our Passat GLX its stand-alone styling statement. A black vinyl wraparound front bumper and air dam complemented the car's solid metal front.
Glass-covered halogen headlamps integrated with amber cornering lights that wrapped just slightly around the front fenders of our test car. A large VW chrome logo occupied center stage up front, accompanied by a prominent VR6 engine identification piece to the driver's side of center. Volkswagen is obviously proud of this advanced engine, as evidenced by the additional identification on the rear deck of the car.
Full-length, black vinyl protective moldings and rocker panel guards punctuated the sides of our test vehicle. Vinyl-covered, dual-hinged power side-view mirrors featured a gap between the mounts for improved aerodynamics.
The color of the mirror housings matched the body paint of our test vehicle perfectly. The door handles were also covered in black vinyl and protruded slightly.
The long coach roof avoided the extreme aerodynamic treatments of many other sedans. However, it imparted a look of luxury.
Short of a graceful aerodynamic spoiler, the rear styling of our Passat GLX faithfully echoed the trim, unfettered look of the rest of the car. A protective molding was centered on the rear bumper, concluded by a black vinyl undercover.
Similar to the front end, there was a generous expanse of metal in back, and it was centered between subtle wraparound taillight assemblies that accounted for roughly 40 percent of the rear deck.
Our test vehicle featured optional leather seats and door inserts, as well as a power sunroof for an added touch of luxury. Also a nice touch, the front bucket seats were electrically heated.
The instrument panel was clean and straight-forward, displaying a combined fuel/temperature gauge an speedometer and tachometer dials. We discovered by pressing a button on the turn signal stalk that there was also an array of LCD read-outs that gave us current mpg, long and short trip mpg performance, and outside temperature. Also present were handy warning lights on the dash above the center console for the hand brake, the anti-lock braking system (ABS), the headlight dimmer and the driver's seat heater.
That same center console housed the only ergonomic flaw we discovered in our Passat GLX: When pushed forward to the park position, the shift lever pinched our test driver's fingers against the front of the console.
Other than that, everything was perfectly placed and configured. A single joystick control for both power side-view mirrors was on the driver's door, with one-touch power window controls just below.
Our Passat GLX boasted 97 cubic feet of room in total and offered more head- and legroom than most of the sedans we've tested, including the popular Honda Accord.
The rear seat also had a center armrest that folded down to create an opening to the trunk. This was great for accommodating oversized items such as skis.
The 2.8-liter, 172-hp, fuel-injected V6 delivered breathtaking response from 0 to 60 mph and superior highway passing punch from 50 mph right on up-even with the Passat GLXs smooth automatic transmission in fourth gear. That same transmission, by the way, also featured both sport and economy modes, enabling us to alternate between being performance-minded and fuel-efficient.
Trips over potholes and sewer covers projected no bumps or shocks. That probably had a lot to do with the Passat GLX's independent front suspension with Volkswagen's Plus-Axle design, which significantly reduced torque steer.
Cornering was quick, precise and produced practically no pitch or lean. The Passat GLXs four-wheel ABS delivered abrupt, straight stops with absolutely no lockup or pedal pulsation and only the slightest trace of brake squeal at high speeds. And starting from a stop was made easy by our vehicle's electronic traction control, designed to prevent wheel spin during acceleration.
Also, wind, road and engine noise was virtually nonexistent during our tests.
One potential negative with driving this car: the proximity of the steering wheel to the console. This could cause problems for some drivers; with the seat all the way back, our test driver had to keep his arms fully extended to reach the wheel.
We were impressed with our 1993 Passat GLX, finding it to be a roomy midsize sedan with an authoritatively German combination of sophisticated engineering and matchless performance. Barring a significant price increase to cover air bags, vinyl front-end protection and other refinements, future editions of the Passat GLX should be well positioned in terms of price, as well as performance.
Build and price your dream Volkswagen Passat in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2013 Volkswagen Passat$16,500 | 15,935 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$17,888 | 14,761 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$17,995 | 17,587 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$20,888 | no mileage
2013 Volkswagen Passat$20,888 | no mileage
2013 Volkswagen Passat$21,888 | 14,086 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$22,499 | 33,934 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$22,888 | 12,888 mi
2013 Volkswagen Passat$27,888 | 15,349 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$17,000 | 37,568 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$17,888 | 27,334 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$17,999 | 43,624 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$19,500 | 18,092 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$19,570 | 17,804 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$19,995 | 30,761 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$21,999 | 61,993 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$23,951 | 36,566 mi
2012 Volkswagen Passat$23,990 | 12,594 mi
2008 Volkswagen Passat Sedan$16,488 | 59,759 mi
2008 Volkswagen Passat$16,995 | 53,588 mi
2007 Volkswagen Passat$11,488 | 88,467 mi
2007 Volkswagen Passat Wagon$12,988 | 91,542 mi
2006 Volkswagen Passat$9,995 | 121,161 mi
2003 Volkswagen Passat$5,999 | 168,645 mi
2002 Volkswagen Passat$5,781 | 122,200 mi
2001 Volkswagen Passat$4,999 | 160,690 mi
1999 Volkswagen Passat$4,999 | 122,178 mi
1998 Volkswagen Passat$4,990 | 211,501 mi