I don't think Passats are much less reliable or more expensive to own the Accords or Camrys. For this thread I'd like to focus on reliability only, and not get into the issue of quality service.
If you beleive Passats are unreliable, show me the figures to support the notion.
There are a number of factors that have lead to the notion that Passat are not reliable. I think there was a time when hondas and accords were much more reliable and less expensive than other cars, but that edge has faded as other manufacturers caught up. I also think that Clubb5 tends to draw people who are having problems with their cars, so that group is over-represented here. Finally, I think people mistakenly lump all VWs in one group when it comes to reliability. The research I did before I bought mine showed that Passats had above average reliability, while other current VWs suffered from worse reliability, and there are some older VWs that really had issues. Finally, there were a couple of well documented problems with early model Passats which have since been fixed (heat shield for Turbos, control arms). All these things combined have lead to a public perception of the Passat as less than reliable when in fact it is above average in reliability closely approaching the reliability of accords and camrys.
For example, Intelichoice ( http://www.intellichoice.com/ ) publishes 5 year total costs of ownership.
For a 2002 Passat GLS it was $26,563.
For a 2002 Accord EX 4 Dr Sedan is was $25,491.
Or, check out Carpoint where they rate car reliability (http://carpoint.msn.com/). '98 and '99 Passat rating are good.
Better yet, someone post from consumer reports. I don't have the latest from them. As a survey researcher, I think there data is the best.