The 2017 Volkswagen Passat Is Affordable and Unreliable

Many drivers love the Volkswagen Passat for its classic European style and smooth ride quality. The Passat has a high depreciation rate, making it an appealing choice to buy used, but its reliability history is another story. Depending on where you look, you are likely to see that the 2017 Passat is one of the better versions to buy used. In some ways, that’s true, but there are a few disclaimers. 

What it’s like to drive the 2017 Volkswagen Passat

The 2017 Passat is part of the first generation that launched in 2012. Critics and consumers alike praised the Passat for its smooth engines and responsible handling. Standard Passat models came with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 170-horsepower. The base engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. 

The standard engine is satisfying and makes the Passat fun to drive. But if more power is what you crave, you’ll want to look for models equipped with the 280-hp V6 engine linked to a dual-clutch automatic transmission. If fuel efficiency is among your top priorities, you should go with the four-cylinder engine that gets a combined 27 mpg. The V6 option gets an overall 23 mpg.

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On the inside of the 2017 Passat

The 2017 Passat provides a comfortable car cabin and a few desirable tech features. It can seat up to five people comfortably, and its seats are exceptionally comfortable. Cloth upholstery came standard on the 2017 Passat, but some models may have genuine leather. 

What also makes this Passat an attractive option to buy used is its available infotainment features. The most notable standard infotainment features on the Passat include a 5-inch touchscreen display and Bluetooth connectivity. For more modern amenities, you can shop for upgraded models that support Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and navigation.

Conflicting reliability ratings 

Volkswagen Passats on display at an auto show
Volkswagen Passats on display | GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images

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Sometimes car reliability ratings are misleading, and the 2017 Passat is a prime example of that. Consumer Reports gave this model its highest predicted reliability score, which might lead buyers to think that the 2017 Passat is the best model year to buy used. On the other hand, U.S. News gave the Passat a below-average rating based on J.D. Power’s testing. And in this case, we agree more with the U.S. News score.

There has been four NHTSA safety recalls on the 2017 Passat. These recalls relate to potential issues concerning the Passat’s service brakes and headlights. VW also recalled the Passat for regulatory requirements to prevent the increased risk of fire or crash-related injury.

Other items to consider 

Technically, the 2017 Passat isn’t the most unreliable version to buy. For instance, the 2015 model year had seven recalls on it. Even with its spotty reliability history, some consider the Passat a good option to buy used because of its high three-year depreciation rate, according to You can buy a Passat for cheap with prices as low as $12K. If you want to buy one, make sure you address the problem areas with your auto dealer.