You should always make sure that you keep up on the maintenance for the transmission. There's no way to check the fluid, and it's a little expensive to have the transmission serviced.
I like the Passat because it gets great gas mileage. It isn't as comfortable as my Envoy, but I like the fact that it's smaller and easier to drive around town. We did have to replace the transmission, shortly after buying it (used). Apparently, VW's have a weak spot in the transmission. Other than that, it seems to be running great.