2003 Passat wagon - weird downshifting

At 1300-1500 rpm, 35-40 mph on a flat road, the transmission barely shifts down, happening every 4-5 seconds, causing the car to lurch a bit. The rpm bumps up about 100 rpm each time.

The dealer has not a clue (no warnings or diagnostics from the car’s computer) and is talking about pulling the transmission.

Any ideas?

Find an independent VW mechanic and ask his or her opinion.

Compare what the independent says to what the dealer says and decide which is best for you.