1997 Volkswagen Passat GLS Sedan (169)


Two years ago I drove the VW Passat and was impressed. Today it’s even better, which goes to show you that we do learn from history, contrary to popular belief. I found this newer evolved Passat to be a wonderful mid-sized 5 passenger family car. It not only has nice European styling; it has the toughness of German built cars for the autobahn.

I didn’t drive a VW on the autobahn, but they are a definite presence there. I suspect that is why they come standard with a turbo-charger. As you may recall, the difference between a Super-charger and Turbo-charger is that the Super-charger is belt driven, which is better off the line since it give instant boost. The Turbo-charger is more efficient because it is “exhaust driven”, but as you can imagine it takes longer for the exhaust to build up Rpm’s in the turbine.

I have to admit, I’m a little biased toward the VW because I cut my teeth on the old one’s while in college. I also had a Volkswagen Carmen Ghia. Bought it new for about $2,500. Ok, you figure the year and I’ll pay for a years subscription to the Pasadena Weekly. Those were simpler days and the cars were simple too. Most features were mechanical and with the VW Bug air conditioning meant you opened the wind wings real wide. I was well served by the VW and those impressions are lasting. We never wanted for things in those days, and that is probably, in part due to the efficient VW’s that we drove. Today, they have matured and put on a new face…and a new window sticker. They have streamlined styling and lots of high tech stuff today because that’s what we demand.

The 60’s are long gone and this generation doesn’t get excited about seeing how many bodies you can stuff into a phone booth or a V-dub. Remember those days. Remember when phone booths looked like phone booths. Boy, times have changed and I have to smile when I think of Steve Reeves’ portrayal of Superman looking for a phone booth to change into his tights and cape.

Well, even though the original VW’s were short on features, the model I drove this week was a little too long on options. I could have lived without the moonroof and didn’t find a need for the Tiptronic transmission and leather trim. I felt I could really find another use for the $3,300 bucks you’d have to pay for those features. In any case, this car has enough standard stuff that is more important. For example, 4-wheel disc brakes and a well balanced engine for economy and the availability of turbo-charged power. It also has a solid feeling that you usually only get from more expensive cars. Volkswagen pays a lot of attention to detail. When you go to see this new Passat, take a look at how close and even the joints and seams are, and you’ll see what I mean.

Standard Equipment:

150 horsepower 1.8 liter 4-cylinder turbo-charged engine, (later in 1998 the Passat will introduce a 190 horsepower V6 TDI for Turbo Direct Injection engine), front wheel drive, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, power rack and pinion steering, front and side airbags, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, power windows, power mirrors, adjustable steering wheel, AM/FM stereo with cassette, trip computer and anti-theft system.

Gas Stats:

21 City / 31 Highway MPG.


Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $ 20,750 and with the addition of a glass sunroof for $1,000 and a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission for $1,075, partial leather interior for $950 and a CD changer for $280 the total came to $24,555.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
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