By on February 29, 2012

Fans of Volkswagen products who hoarded canned goods and ammunition in anticipation of the VWpocalypse – the launch of “Americanized” versions of the Jetta and Passat – may be unhappy with how their new product lineup is shaking out. But the market is responding favorably. The Volkswagen Jetta outsold the Hyundai Elantra in January (the two finished 11th and 10th in 2011 respectively) and the Passat spends half as much time on dealer lots compared to the industry average.

The United States has long been the key to Volkswagen’s goal of becoming the largest, most profitable automaker, due to its size and Europe’s increasingly unstable future. Domestic production and the “prestige” associated with German vehicles is helping Volkswagen, but their strategy of unseating Honda, which seems to be predicated on the company continuing to falter, may be flawed; the 2012 Civic, which has been pilloried in the automotive press, outsold the Jetta by a 2:1 ratio in January. Both models have endured criticism from the automotive press, though consumers have yet to adjust their buying habits accordingly. Honda’s poor showing in 2011 (with market share dropping from 11 to 8 percent in 2011) was attributable to disrupted production in Japan and Thailand, but those issues should sort themselves out in 2012.

An Automotive News article on the topic suggests that one way VW may be able to make up some market share is through the sale of TDI diesels if gas prices hit $5/gallon. But with diesel market share resting comfortably at 0.5 percent in 2011, it looks like TDIs will have a negligible impact on VW’s sales.

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112 Comments on “Volkswagen Looking To Overtake Honda In The United States...”


  • avatar
    stryker1

    I own a 2011 Jetta TDI. Its a great car. Haters gon’ hate.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      I’m hattin’, I’m hattin’ plenty. With my finest hat on sir.

      A co-worker’s 2011 Golf has an incurable CEL at 22k miles.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        At 22k miles, his car should be well under warranty. Tell him to lemon-law it.

        Also, if its a diesel, he needs to make sure he’s not filling up with dirty (higher-sulfer content) diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Ugh. A co-worker has a 2011 Jetta TDI. The interior of that car is atrocious and it has the most anonymous exterior styling of any car on the market right now. The Golf and Jetta Sportwagen are better cars in every way other than rear leg room.

      So yeah, I’m hatin’.

      Myself, I am lusting after a GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Warranty or not, what fun is there in having your wheels sitting at the dealer over and over again for the same thing, oh Yeah. lots of fun!

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “The interior of that car is atrocious”
        Only if you’ve find a way to drive while clinging to the dashboard.
        The touch points are all fine (Seats,Steeringwheel,Handbrake, armrests).

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Not sure about your car but in his the door arm rests were hard plastic…cheap, hard plastic. Not to mention the “plastigoop” seats were not a convincing leather alternative. I can forgive the hard dash, but does it have to be Tupperware shiny? His also had casting flashing hanging from the very misaligned trim pieces some of which were rubbing so badly they were transferring color to each other. The interior just screams cheap. It wouldn’t be so bad if similar cars on the dealer lot didn’t have interiors that were far superior(GTI/Golf/Jetta SW).

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “Warranty or not, what fun is there in having your wheels sitting at the dealer over and over again for the same thing, oh Yeah. lots of fun!”

        That sounds like bad dealer service. While I may be a VW fanboy, I can’t vouch for their dealer network. I just consider myself lucky to live not too far from one that has done right by me for quite a while.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “His also had casting flashing hanging from the very misaligned trim pieces some of which were rubbing so badly they were transferring color to each other.”

        You’re right, that does sound bad. It may be a QC issue, and he just got a lousy one, but I haven’t had any such issues. OTOH, I’ve noticed that my brother’s 2010 jetta TDI, does have some interior cloth bits that seem to be starting to sag or fall apart, despite the overall upscale nature of high interior compared to the plastic bits in mine.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Re: VW dealer service.
        That is one of the main things that has kept me from pulling the trigger on a new GTI. My previous experiencce with the only VW dealer service in my town was HORRIBLE. Has that changed in the last 6 years? Doubt it. I am still researching the other service departments in nearby towns to see if they have better reputations. I was able to survive for a while by doing most of my own service and repairs, but even that got out of control and I had to ditch my Passat.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My coworker’s 2010 Golf TDI burned up all four of its wheel bearings at 40k miles (post-warranty at 18 months old), costing him $800 even after the dealer threw one in for free.

      They tossed him a bone: $400 in VW dollars he could spend on future products or services.

      He promptly traded it for a 2012 Kia Forte 5. And this was his third TDI; he had really been drinking the VW/TDI Kool-Aid. He won’t be back.

      And as I’ve shared before, my 02 Passat made 12 unscheduled trips to the dealer in 3 years; I’m done with VW for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “My coworker’s 2010 Golf TDI burned up all four of its wheel bearings at 40k miles”

        Sounds to me like someone did a crap job of mounting his wheels after a rotation or something.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @stryker1: VW admitted to a known problem (likely with a supplier), although your theory makes sense.

        Having sat in the new Jetta at the auto show; I found nothing objectionable about its ‘decontented’ interior.

      • 0 avatar
        AKRonald

        I don’t understand the correlation between mounting the wheels incorrectly and wheel bearings going out.
        I admit the only VW I owned was a ’58 Beetle which I loved, but on none of my cars have the lug nuts/bolts’ tension affected the wheel bearings.
        I don’t know how often they are supposed to be re-packed with grease; maybe they were mis-torqued after packing, or re-packing was postponed too long?

    • 0 avatar
      shearwater26

      Just bought a 2012 Jetta SE 2.5 manual, coming off a 2007 Mazda 3 and before that a 2003 Protege 5. Am I a bit nervous about VW quality, you bet. But rusting fenders on both of the Mazdas, seat fabric that started to wear after two years, and a front suspension rebuild after 60,000 miles on the 3, combined with atrocious exterior styling and overly busy interior design on the new models have put me off Japanese cars for now. I think the subdued design of the VW is refreshing. The leatherette feels good and to my eyes looks great. The hard plastics are better looking than what I left with the Mazda 3. I like the sound of the 2.5, shifting is satisfying. So far, I really like this Jetta. Let’s see how it holds together.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Nothing is perfect – not VWs and not Hondas. Our current ’11 Jetta tdi is a nice car and has given us no problems. Our old ’05 CRV was a nice car that gave us problems. Your mileage may vary, and, as they say, the plural of anecdote is not data.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I think the VW hate grows out of the yawning chasm between the brand promise and the reality of ownership. A VW, by all rights, SHOULD be a great car. Look at all the things that are right: made in Germany with (up until recently) overengineered parts, thoughtful design, promising engines & chassis, driver’s orientation, clever packaging, fun marketing…

      When I bought my 2002 Golf I was giddy with excitement. It was such a fun purchase. So much happiness and satisfaction all around… for about 4000 miles. Slowly I realized I’d bought a maintenance hog that seemed to break down for no good reason. Every problem seemed to be bafflingly random. By the time the rings were bad at 80k miles, and the rubber coating had worn off the broken interior parts, and five radio knobs came apart in splinters, the car felt like a worn out old Transformer toy.

      Never was I so let down. That miles-wide dissonance betwen what VW promises and what it delivers is heartbreaking.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        We drove a 2008 rabbit from 14,000 miles (started as a dealer loaner) to almost 60,000 miles, and never had to take it in for anything other than oil changes, tires, and the 40k serice (which, admittedly, was not cheap at $500).

        I’ve read here and elsewhere that the horrific problems you mention were largely present in the early-mid 2000s models.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “Look at all the things that are right: made in Germany with (up until recently) overengineered parts, thoughtful design, promising engines & chassis, driver’s orientation, clever packaging, fun marketing…”

        1) Why is made in Germany a plus? If you value durability, Consumer Reports is a more reliable source than the name of a nation.

        2) Over engineering = Poor engineering. Certain parts being over-engineered could only mean one of two things: certain other parts are under-engineered, OR the buyer is paying for something he doesn’t need.

        3) In terms of packaging, maybe it’s better than a Crown Vic, but I don’t see how it’s better than an iQ.

        All the rest are purely subjective.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        But just because VW is German, does not automatically mean that it has ‘German quality.’ BMW and MB (sometimes) have ‘German quality.’
        This is how mythology is born, and then dies a crushing death.
        Similarly, people equate Japanese vehicles with ‘superior’ quality. In fact, only Toyota and Honda have had brushes with greatness: Nissan, Mazda and especially Mitsubishi have made quite mediocre vehicles, but they’ve ridden on the coat tails of Honda and Toyota.
        Never put a car company on a pedestal. You will be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      VW & Honda = the only two brands that have given me real trouble. Heh.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The “diesel strategy” has one big problem in the U.S. — the high price of the fuel. In my neck of the woods, using the “gas buddy” app for the I-phone to find cheap prices in the vicinity of where I’m sitting at the moment (Georgetown), the cheapest diesel near me is 80 cents/gallon more expensive than regular and 30 cents/gallon more expensive than premium.

    If I did the math right, that means that diesel is about 22 percent more expensive. Using an apple-to-apples comparison, the diesel Golf gets about 29% better mileage (EPA ratings) than the gasoline version. So, the net gain for the diesel (in terms of fuel cost savings) is only about 5%. With the diesel Golf being priced about $6,000 MSRP higher than the base gasser (albeit with snazzier wheels and a 6-speed rather than 5-speed manual tranny), the “value proposition” is pretty thin. And, unlike owning a hybrid, owning a diesel does not seem to add to one’s green cred.

    Moreover, if we don’t compare the same make and model of car and use an equally nice, competent-driving car like the Focus SE hatchback with the manual tranny (available at about the same price as the base Golf, similarly equipped)to compare with the VW diesel, the fuel economy spread between the diesel and the gasoline-engined car gets a whole lot smaller. In fact, the Golf diesel has only about 16% better fuel economy than the Focus. When you account for the price difference between the two fuels, that means that the diesel Golf actually has a higher fuel cost per mile than the Focus.

    So, good luck with that strategy, VW.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Does VW make a “stripper” model TDI or are they all loaded up with stuff? If not, that’s probably a big part of the value proposition here. Once we get some cheap diesels, perhaps that savings may actually matter.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I tried to use the Edmunds price tool to make the cars comparably equipped, and just MSRP. At least prior to this year, the base TDI was more nicely equipped than the base Golf.

        As for the VW Diesel’s “miracle” mileage in excess of the EPA . . . well, whatever. EPA ratings are the only uniform benchmark out there, so that’s what I used. We got a regular poster on this Board who claims highway mileage from his Saab 9-5 aero that I have never gotten in the 10 years and 90,000 miles I’ve owned the car.

        The diesel vs. gasoline price spread is a product of local market conditions, and gas in the suburbs is generally cheaper than gas in DC proper. But my observation is that around here the spreads are maintained, even if the absolute numbers are lower. This didn’t use to be the case. I owned an Audi diesel from 1980 to 1987, and, at that time, diesel was not the most expensive motor fuel out there. IIRC, it was priced at about the same as regular gasoline, maybe a little less.

        Finally, steady-speed highway cruising (at less than supersonic speeds) is where all liquid fueled engines shine; and idling in traffic is where they suck. But diesels do seem to have a sweet spot on the highway. Again, using EPA numbers as a uniform benchmark, there’s a greater spread between EPA city and EPA highway for the VW diesel than for either the Focus or the VW gasser.

        IIRC, my Audi got about 30-35 mpg on the highway, averaging 60 mph. But any car that tops out at 65 mph (even with a 55 mph highway speed limit)is pretty seriously underpowered . . . and that was the story with the Audi. The Benz 240D was no better, either.

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      Fuel economy aside, you also have to factor in resale value of gas vs. diesel. A quick look at my local Auto Trader has comparable 2010 TDI Jettas listed for about 20% more than the 2.5L gas versions. Highline gassers are going for roughly $19,000.00, diesels for $23,000.00 (Canadian) with similar mileage.

      Here in Southern Ontario, diesel is priced within a few cents per litre of regular gas, so the value proposition seems to be better in Canada. A friend of mine is sales manager at a local VW dealer, and he tells me that the take rate on diesels is 70% in his store, and he’d sell more if VW would up his allotment.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Uh….”in the US”? I think that might problem might exist locally for you. Using the same app, Cheapest premium near me is $3.98. Cheapest Diesel is $3.95….

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      That pricing sounds highly irregular. Here in MD, Diesel tracks with premium, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. In practice I get closer to 60% better mileage than the 2.5 gas engine. Part of that may be that my commute (60 miles a day, largely highway), but even scooting around town I rarely do worse that 39mpg.

      According to my spreadsheets, I’m saving a little under $200 a month in fuel costs. It’s not nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Stryker1, your comment shows that you understand more about diesel than most people on this blog. Diesel engines really shine in longer distance highway applications, and your 60% better mileage figure is probably pretty close to what other users see.

        In my region, diesel runs about $.40 more per gallon than regular unleaded. The cost premium of less than 15% is more than offset with the diesel highway mileage that is often about 50mpg for a midsize car.

        Diesel is not for everybody, but for some drivers it really is a great option.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        A friend of mine recently traded a last-gen Jetta 2.5 for a new TDI. He drives about 100 miles a day, all highway, and his fuel savings mirror yours. He also seems oblivious to the decontenting every hater and VWVortex fanboy is ranting about.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “He also seems oblivious to the decontenting every hater and VWVortex fanboy is ranting about.”

        After you drive any car for a while, the interior bits that you don’t touch fade into the landscape. It doesn’t hurt that most of the dash actually looks fairly upmarket, with the chrome-ish trimmed vents such. The illusion only evaporates when you reach out and pat the dash.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      In my zipcode, which is for Pacific Beach in San Diego, the cheapest diesel is 7% more than the cheapest 87 octane unleaded. 30 cents still looks like a big delta, but the fuel mileage difference should cover it for comparable vehicles. The price difference was about the same pre-Obama energy policy, so higher fuel prices are helping diesel make sense where I live by halving the percentage of the price difference.

    • 0 avatar
      mshenzi

      Why IS diesel so expensive compared to gasoline? Is this all over the USA? I am also in DC and see the same hi price as DC Bruce (for a Golf TDI that is treating me very well so far, knock on wood). But on a recent overseas trip diesel was the cheapest fuel at the pump by something like 35-40%. The processing for low sulfur can’t cost THAT much…

      • 0 avatar
        wallstreet

        Diesel tends to be more expensive during winter because of demand for heating oils & lack of refinery capacity. It is typically cheaper then petroleum during summer months. I witnessed diesel going for same price as premium (93 Octane) during last fill-up here @ Houston. This is too early & I wonder if it is because of the mild winter. If this is any indication, I’m predicting diesel will be cheaper than 93 octane for next 7-8 months. Lest forget modern oil burner are at least 1/3 more efficient than its petrol counterparts.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        What I’ve heard is that diesel prices fluctuate less than gas prices, so as gas prices go up and down diesel prices shift more slowly. This could be why, on rare occasion, I’ve actually seen diesel at or less than regular.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    I have no problem with VW selling an Americanized product as long as they offer “Germanized” products as well. I love my VW CC 3.6 4motion (I came from an ’07 S4). I love the torquey growly V6 especially in sport mode. The performance feels 8.5/10ths of the S4 on the public road. The CC is just terrific in the snow, gets decent fuel economy for an AWD car with a big V6, the Dynaudio stereo is the most fantastic audio system I’ve ever heard in a car or home system, and the fit finish and materials are very impressive. I feel so spoiled with the brake hold feature the car came with – great for sitting in traffic here in the Boston metro area. The CC in 2010 listed at 44K, but I negotiated NO WHERE near that number. I believe in 2011 VW dropped the price to around 41.4K, so I don’t know if they are equally negotiable now. The car has 23,000 miles and never an issue yet (other than field mice nibbling on the firewall insulation). Can you believe the car actually comes with a full size tire AND matching exterior rim???!!! (Hello Audi). Now the service department….I don’t expect a Quattro Cafe, but VW needs to go sit and wait at least in a Toyota service department….I really like this car. They are not as exclusive as when I obtained mine, but I think it represents a fantastic value in a European road machine.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      40K for a 4-door VW? Wow.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        tallnikita

        That’s the untalked about (in the context of Americanizing product) side effect of selling euro-centric vehicles in the US. Basically if you buy a VW conceived with the euro market in mind it is quite possible to fork over $40k for a fully optioned car. The exception is the GTI, but in that case you are left with a fully loaded $33k hatchback! No matter what, you are buying an Acura, not a Honda, competitor. This also explains why Acuras are really just warmed over euro-Hondas.

        OTOH, the new Passat tops out at around $34k (starts at 20), and arguably gives you a much better value in terms of interior space, drivetrain choice, etc… For comparison’s sake the CC runs from 29 – 42k. Fully loaded the options are basically the same, the CC having AWD and the Passat having a DSG being the one big exception. That does not equate to a rational $8k price difference.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        @ tedward

        “That does not equate to a rational $8k price difference.”

        I don’t think the difference is a matter of cost – the difference is a matter of car. Would I drive the new Americanized Passat? Nope. I wouldn’t even consider it. If I was shopping in the FWD family sedan market, I’d probably buy an Accord. Do I drive a CC? Yep, and I’d buy another in a heart beat – with the invaluable 4Motion option please.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Around here (Southeast) diesel is about 15 percent higher than regular. That makes the calculation more favorable for a diesel, but since VW’s current diesels get about 20 percent lower mpg than those of, say, a decade ago, it does become a harder sell when compared to fuel efficient gasoline-powered cars. If the current tdi got 50 mpg like my ’01 (it varies but never drops below 48 – last fillup was 52), and if it didn’t have such a high cost premium, it would be easier. On the other hand, if you like good range, a diesel is hard to beat. I can go 700 miles on a tank without getting too worried.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      It’s possible to get 50 in the current TDI, just unlikely unless you do almost exclusively highway driving.

      My brother’s fiance took a trip to New York last week, and swears she was getting almost 58 mpg average. Now I know for a fact that she has a very light foot, so your mileage may vary, but I think this is one case where the EPA numbers are actually pretty conservative compared to what I’ve been able to get real world.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I don’t like the vinyl seats on the TDI. Seriously, I’d rather have REAL cloth than FAKE leather.

  • avatar

    It could be confirmation-bias, but around me, they are selling.

    So, VW’s presto-change-o flimflam on a $15k entry model that gets the eyeballs, but nobody will ever buy,

    and their “Audi, through a glass, darkly”-design looks to be working quite well,

    -reliability -erm, no, wait: I meant, whatever the opposite of reliability is-, be-damned.

  • avatar
    pdog

    I actually test drove a Civic Hybrid and a Jetta TDI 6MT back to back this weekend.

    I understand the hating on the Civic interior. It’s cluttered, distracting, and is a symphony of gross visual textures. Honda’s seat fabrics (at least in the Hybrid) had the ugliest seat pattern I’ve seen outside of a 1990s era special edition VW, and certain parts of the supposedly black dash had a gross brown tint. It was also not a particularly exciting car to drive, but then again, it was a hybrid/cvt.

    I don’t really understand the criticism of the Jetta’s interior. Yes, it’s not as fancy as the old one was. I’m okay with that; it means no more rubberized bits to start peeling off of buttons and handles after a couple years (or months, if you’re unlucky). I prefer vinyl to cloth, but the Jetta’s vinyl feels too thin and fragile. Also, the Jetta door armrests had really poor fit and finish, like they had been pried apart with a screwdriver. But other than that, the layout inside was much nicer – spacious, straightforward, and conducive to driving. And the TDI was more than fast enough.

    And no check engine lights were witnessed.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      “the Jetta door armrests had really poor fit and finish, like they had been pried apart with a screwdriver.”

      This is the largest criticism I have for the interior of the new Jetta. I think its exacerbated by the decision to have two different textures of plastic meeting in different parts of the armrest/door handle. It makes it look cheap and poorly thought out.

      • 0 avatar
        pdog

        Yeah – it looked like there were rough mold lines or flash on the edge of the top panel (with the window switch in it) where it was supposed to meet the rest of the armrest, and these mold lines were interfering with proper panel fit. I’m sure removing the panel and carefully sanding/smoothing down the flash would take care of it, but it’s unfortunate that that isn’t being done at the factory or at least by the dealer prior to showing the car to a customer.

        Overall it’s a minor issue that doesn’t affect reliability or the way the car drives, but I’m sure enough people who notice it will wonder whether the same sloppiness is going to affect the car in less visible but more critical areas.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        I’ve had my new GLI for two weeks now. The soft-touch dash and upholstered A-pillars are nice touches, but almost no one is going to notice the difference between it and the base car unless they touch it. And who goes around touching dashboards?

        The door panels are fine. The leather-look hard plastic inserts are an odd choice, but the overall design is attractive and they feel much more substantial and solid than the door panels in the ’02 Civic I traded in. The V-Tex upholstery isn’t much worse than the “leather” interiors I’ve had in the past, if at all.

        Anybody who doesn’t like this car because they deleted the vents in the back of the console needs to be isolated from the rest of society.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Let’s compare recalls last year for the two. Honda was No. 1!

    HMC(Honda) = SAAB

    • 0 avatar
      OhioPilot09

      I don’t necessarily read that as a bad thing…it at least shows an automaker who is willing to bear both the cost and criticism to fix issues that are found…not like some auto makers that don’t give 2 cents about it once it leaves the lot.

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    Could someone please tell me what it is with high school and college students’ obsession with driving clapped out and crapped out VWs?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      As the greatest risk-taking part of the population, they seek the ‘thrill’ of VW ownership over the boring reliability of a Toyota.

      This is why I drove a Fiat for a while in college.

      • 0 avatar
        Mullholland

        Besides their risk-taking nature, this younger target demographic is also more susceptible to VW’s hip and happenin’ pseudo-Euro marketing message.
        My big risk: 1973 Fiat 128 SL. My first new car. Dad co-signed. It ate electric fuel pumps like popcorn. Always carried a spare. Could do a roadside change-out of the part in under 5 minutes. Regularly did. Good times.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @Mullholland: My Fiat was a 74 128 SL. I only had it a year, but never had a fuel pump problem. Electrical problems and rust, yes.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      Simple. Their parents are footing the bill for repairs.

      Their obsession will shift once it comes out of their own pockets.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Drive one and find out yourself! Why do people drive clapped out Ford’s, Chevy’s, trucks etc? At least the people driving clapped out VW’s are enjoying themselves, unlike the miserable souls stuck in a more acceptable brand. Good heavens, build a build a bridge.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Because that’s where the tuning culture is nowadays. It’s what got me into the brand back in my formative period. If you want lessons in extreme daily driver modification just go to any major VW meet and greet.

      As a side effect the VW guys (at least in the NY area) seem to have developed a reputation of sorts. I have a couple Honda/streetbike enthusiasts in my building and they love to do really stupid things (I’m a fan). These guys are full of stories about turbo VR6 Jettas smoking all their hommies. It’s certainly not b/c the Jetta is a better starting point for a drag racer than the lighter Civic, it’s just that tuner-owners willing to go all the way seem to be attracted to the brand.

  • avatar
    richeffect

    I remember trading cars with a friend of mine back in 1991 for a day–he took my CRX and I took his GTI. It felt like I was getting into a car 10 years older than my CRX. There was this little cluster of icons with one LED bulb next to it which was the set of dummy lights whereas my Honda had icons that were backlit. My CRX had a lever that would allow me to adjust my chair position. The VW had a big wheel at the base of the seat I had to crank to no end. When the car failed to start in the 7-11 parking lot, I was happy to give it back. He wanted to trade cars for good!

    More recently I had a friend whose VR6 Jetta was making some clatter noises at the front of his engine. Having owned a 944 for 12 years I knew that was the sound of a belt roller that needed replacement. I don’t think he expected his motor to be total loss from the belt breaking because they’re interference motors.

    Until VWs become as pain-free to own as their Asian counterparts, they will NEVER overtake them. I never saw them as competition to Toyondabarussanzda–but as an alternative to those that just want to be different. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as they don’t mind paying a company the difference for the compromise they made in quality for a gain in status/luxury. It’s what makes America a beautiful place to live.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      VW’s have a certain amount of charm and character that is different than Japanese cars. I had a 95′ Golf for a brief time. Everything was wrong with it; sunroof held in with painter’s tape, dead dashlights, power locks didn’t work, the cast metal nipple that a coolant line went into on the driver’s side of the head had somehow rusted apart making it impossible to get a hose over it so it eternally leaked coolant. The suspension knocked over bumps, the shifter bushings were completely rotted so shifting was guesswork. The list goes on.

      But there was just something about driving it. I can’t quite find the words for it. I really enjoyed it despite its very obvious problems. I’m not a VW fan, nor will I ever be. But I understand.

      My 90′ CRX HF was nearly flawless.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        I also went from a VW (1980 Rabbit Diesel) to a 1988 CRX, and the difference in build quality and performance was amazing. This was when Hondas were truly over-engineered compared to their competition.

        However, I still have fond memories of my Rabbit diesel and the daily beach trips while getting 50 mpg (and a blast of black smoke from the turned up injector pump). The CRX I have basically forgotten.

        But I’d hardly use my experience from a quarter century ago to compare modern Honda’s and VW’s. I’m not sure I want to compare MY current fit and finish to my 22 year old self.

    • 0 avatar
      pdog

      I think this is a question of personal taste. I always liked the honesty of the bare LED warning lights in the old VWs – they seemed so utilitarian, and unlike the backlit icons in some other cars, they were easy to see even with bright ambient light.

      I agree that the wheel seatback adjustment can be a pain for an arthritic, but the advantage it offers is a continuous range of adjustment, rather than certain preset ratcheting levels. I think some journalists even complained when they switched to the more conventional lever style for the current Jetta. The wheel must be a German thing though – my mid-80s Benz has it as well.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “Until VWs become as pain-free to own as their Asian counterparts, they will NEVER overtake them.”

      No, it doesn’t need to. All VW needs to do is to wait for another GM bankruptcy and then “take over” GM at American taxpayers expense (the same way Fiat took over Chrysler).

      Oh, along with GM WuLings, of course.

      Then, GVW will out sell Toyota 2 to 1 in units, and still worth less than half of Toyota’s market value (like now).

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        VW has a market cap of around $70 billion to Toyota’s $100 billion
        http://www.4wheelsnews.com/toyota-has-been-deemed-as-the-market-capitalization-leader-in-2011/
        If GVW occurred in your scenario (ironic as it was) then GVW would have a comparable market cap to Toyota. Not 2:1. Just saying.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      You know that’s strange, I wouldn’t trade my GTI for two (2) brand spanking new CR-Zeros.

      And I drove/loved Hondas for 15 years and hundreds of thousands of miles.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        @cackalacka: Ditto. I grew up with Hondas and had three myself. Loved the first one, liked the second one and was pretty disappointed with my ’02 Civic. Twenty years ago, there’s no way I would have bought a VW over an Accord or Civic. When I was shopping for my GLI, the thought of looking at Hondas didn’t even cross my mind.

        I’d bet money that a new Honda is probably still much more reliable than a Volkswagen, but Hondas have become soulless, cheap, uncomfortable, painfully unattractive and generally lousy to drive or be seen in. It’s to the point where I’d rather deal with the potential pitfalls of VW ownership than drive another car as dreary as my last Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      handplane

      The VR6 engines did not have camshaft timing belts. They had timing chains, and they were at the rear of the engine. The sound was more likely the serp belt tensioner pulley, not a big deal to replace.

  • avatar
    Marko

    One of the cars I am looking at is the 2.5L Golf, which seems like a good deal at the price. You’re not stuck with fake leather as in the Jetta, and the interior has not been decontented as in the Jetta.

    The powertrain seems reliable enough – it was introduced in the 2005.5 Jetta, and the initial timing chain issues were worked out within the first 1-2 years.

    I’m tempted by the new Focus; however, I’ve already heard (anecdotal) horror stories about its reliability. I would probably buy a manual, though, so I wouldn’t be dealing with the PowerShift issues.

    Then again, even though most VW horror stories are about 1999-2004 cars, I can’t get those out of my mind.

    So, I chicken out and tell myself I will sacrifice driving enjoyment for Japanese reliability.

    Tough decision…

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Have you looked at Consumer Reports and True Delta reliability ratings for post-2005 Jettas and Rabbit/Golfs with the 2.5? They show a substantial, non-linear improvement over the previous generation. Reliability seems to be just this side of average, which is enough for me if I like the car.

      And a 2-door Golf with the manual transmission is a killer deal. Golf or Focus? Either way, it’s a good time to be an affordable hatchback fan.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Go with an entry GTi. 2.5L engine is to heavy for that size car and ruins the handling. Cloth seats are very nice and the whole power, handling package is sublime!

  • avatar
    pdog

    Who is buying all the Passats? I can count on one hand the number I’ve seen in the wild here in the PNW. Maybe I’m mistaking them for Jettas?

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Haven’t seen any. It’s also extremely rare to see a new Jetta. I’m in the VW haven of Seattle.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Me too, and I remember 10-15 years ago when you couldn’t spit in a parking lot w/o hitting a Jetta.

        I’ve got a (dead) 1996 Passat TDI in my driveway, if anybody feels the need to look at one . . . I may actually get it running again this year to get my 45 mpg on $5.50 gal (summertime) diesel!

  • avatar
    TAP

    Although had a good experience with my ’02 Jetta 1.8, my family suffered bad VW service way back in 1962 with a then-new beetle.
    Fortunately, a local German mechanic saved the day, and that shop is still serving disgruntled VW owners.

  • avatar
    jaje

    VW has a very, very long way to go to catch Honda. Nissan is close so is Hyundai/Kia (combined). Honda should eventually fall out of its funk as its management gets fired or retires and they may start actually innovating again instead of trying to be a Toyota Me Too manufacturer.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Dear Volkswagen,
    I’m a former Volkswagen owner.

    I owned and loved a 2001 Jetta TDI back in 2007. It was a wonderful car, when it ran — which was literally about half of the year that I owned it.

    Because of that car, I’ve sworn off of all VAG products, despite the fact that they’re right-sized, looked nice, and they match a lot of what I’m looking for in a car better than most of the other cars that i see. But, alas, any company whose quality assurance process could release the 01M 4-speed automatic transmission on the public will probably never make a car that I can afford to own. I can afford to own just about any used car on the market from any segment — but I cannot afford to own a Volkswagen product. Repairs to any major system on the car was $3k-$5k. I bought two transmissions for the Jetta during the time I owned it, and had the rebuild replaced under warranty several times as well. I had a timing belt replaced, and I replaced several sensors, bringing my total maintenance cost to well over $7k for a single year of ownership.

    My Jetta was as reliable as my dad’s 1978 Volkswagen minibus — except that repairs were expensive. IF you can make a car that is as reliable as my father’s 2009 Hyundai Sonata, then we’ll talk. I’m predisposed to liking Volkswagens because of the size and shape, because of the handling, and because of the availability of small diesel engines. But my experience with your products suggests that a Lexus would have a far lower cost of ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Not really all that educated with VWs (I stay away from them due to higher cost of repairs and what I see more frequent ones) – the MkIV Jetta was a terrible car to own and had many, many issues that VW never fixed. That car significantly hurt VW in terms of reliability / quality and lost them a lot of future customers.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        Yes, the Mk4 is one of the worst VWs made. While I haven’t owned one, the (former) Mk4 owners that I know have led me to the conclusion, “A word of advice to the potential Mk4 owner – DON’T”.

        Fortunately, the Mk5/Mk6 is a TREMENDOUS improvement. There are still a few lemon stories, but they are mostly with the early 2.0T and 2009/2010 TDI.

        2.5L – which I am looking at now – seem very reliable. (Keep fingers crossed…)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        You know until the MKIV came along, the MKIII was considered to be one of the worst VW products of all time. CAR magazine put their test car on the cover with a spoof of VW’s old ‘Lemon’ advertisement.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        I owned a 2003 Jetta GLS and a 2006 Jetta TDI with the DSG. The A5 was a big improvement over the A4, though by 2003 they must have had most of the bugs worked out because in 85k miles I never had any serious problems with my A4.

        The new, decontented Jetta is a step backwards and I think the the A5 will always be considered the high point of the Jetta’s evolution. It wasn’t the best looking Jetta, but it did have a fully independent rear suspension, a nicely crafted interior, and better materials and build quality than its predecessors.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Many of the derogatory comments here, even the ones with a hint of intelligence, can be applied to all other brands on the market. I say good for VW in trying to make their products fit the market here in the US and it seems to be working to. Well done! Before this shift the critics had nothing good to say because the cars were too European and now that the cars are more American… they are still unhappy. “Sour grapes” comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You obviously don’t get it. Your statement that the derogatory comments can be applied to ALL other brands is simply not true. There ARE significant differences. I’ve owned 20+ American cars, 2 VWs, close to 10 Hondas, a Renault, and a Mazda. My 1997 Passat has made me want to shoot it full of holes more than all of my other cars combined. And this from the owner of a late-model Civic which just lost its motor at 179K miles (but had ZERO, none, zip, nada, electrical problems).

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @Beerboy12: “‘Sour grapes’ comes to mind.”

      Yes, “sour grapes” is exactly how I feel about the least reliable and most expensive car I’ve ever owned. (2001 Jetta GLS TDI) It’s even worse because the car was so much fun to drive, and because it was so much of what I was looking for in a car at the time that I still kinda miss the car — but I will never own one again.

      “Sour grapes” are warranted here.

      I expected a car with average reliability and some amount of maintainability — but once I owned the car for a couple of months spent some time under the hood, it was clear that neither of these were priorities for Volkswagen.

      IF Volkswagen would make a super-reliable car (“average” isn’t going to cut it after my experience) that still had that Volkswagen-ness about it, then I’d love to buy one. But, damn, these grapes are sour.

      BTW, when my now-wife and I moved in together, she had a Prius and I had the TDI. We kept the Prius, and it was a great choice. I miss the TDI from time to time but, unlike the Volkswagen money-pit that I used to own, the Prius has actually *helped* us live the modest and efficient middle class lifestyle we’re trying to live. The Volkswagen was fun but ludicrously expensive (despite its MPGs), while the Prius has been dependable, cheap to drive, and paid off for years and years.

      So, I’m sworn off of VAG products, even though they’re fun. I respect Toyota, and I won’t hesitate to buy another one whenever it makes sense for me to pay full-price for a dependable and generic transportation appliance.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        Dude, you bought a 6-year old car! Since it was a TDI, how many miles you think it was driven before you bought it? I owned a TDI for 4 years and drove it 100,000 miles, so I’m going to bet you got a high-mileage one and got stuck with all the deferred maintenance from the previous owner(s).

        I almost bought a “cheap TDI” from Craigslist, but after it overheated on the test-drive, I gave him an extreme low-ball offer because I figured I’d sink about $4,000 to make it right. Glad I didn’t buy it.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @SuperACG: “Dude, you bought a 6-year old car!”

        Yes, I did buy a six year old car with around 100k miles on it. It’s one of younger cars I’ve owned.

        The Ranger that it was supposed to replace had 160k miles on it and was 9 years old at the time. I sold the Ranger in December with 186k miles and 13 years old. It beat the hell out of the Jetta for reliability.

        My wife’s Prius is 7 going on 8 years old, and it has 140k miles on it. It’s also beat the hell out of the Jetta for reliability.

        I drove my dad’s 1991 Honda Accord near the end of high school when it was 6 years old, and was much more reliable than both the Jetta and Ranger in terms of reliability at nearly 200k miles. Its reliability history is comparable to the Prius.

        I currently own a 10 year old Ford Escape. I’ve only got a couple of thousand miles, but so far, it’s looking better than my 6 year old Jetta did — at least no maintenance surprises, so far.

        So, yes, I bought a 6 year old car and it was unreliable — unlike the other 6 year old cars.

        Do you seriously think that a 6 year old car is supposed to be unreliable? If so, I imagine you must have never owned anything other than a Volkswagen. The Jetta was a lot of fun to drive, but owning it sucked.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        Luke, I have no idea what you define “reliable” as, but your listed problems seem like lack of routine maintenance from the previous owner. Timing belt? That’s par for the course. And it is NOT CHEAP. In the 4 years/100,000 miles I owned my TDI, I replaced the timing belt TWICE. You’re supposed to do it every 80,000 miles, but I pulled no punches because I didn’t want a ruined engine from a timing belt breakage.

        Transmission? You should flush out the fluid, and I did so with mine. Please read my account of my TDI ownership. Maintenance was next to godliness with me.

        Any other nit-picky items? Brake Light Switch? Par for the course. I replaced three of them; no big deal.

        As for other cars I owned? I had a 1989 Corolla that I got with 80,000 miles and 8 years old, and had normal maintenance for a car of that age. My 2000 Explorer 4×4 I got at 7 years of age and 99,000 miles has also had things I’ve needed to do to keep it right. I spent $2000 a few years back on suspension, tires, and transmission maintenance. It’s all stock. I currently have a 2002 Focus that I just spent $800 on. Again, old parts that just needed replacing.

        VWs aren’t cheap to maintain, but most of that money goes to labor. If you know what you’re doing, you can make them last. You should have spent some time on the TDI Club…

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @SuperACG: “Transmission? You should flush out the fluid, and I did so with mine. Please read my account of my TDI ownership. Maintenance was next to godliness with me.”

        Yup. Tried that. Then got a rebuilt transmission installed from a local TDI specialist recommended through tdiclub.com. Four of those rebuilt transmissions failed. Then we bought an OEM rebuild. I sold the car shortly afterword (while disclosing its maintenance history). So, I had SIX transmissions in that car.

        Clearly the rebuilder wasn’t qualified to rebuild a ZF 01M transmission. But Volkswagen selected an unmaintainable transmission, and didn’t provide an alternative for a transmission that typically needs to be replaced every 50k miles when it’s working well. Also, the availability of parts is as important as reliability — so, multiple fail.

        That’s not counting the sensors and other stuff that failed.

        The timing belt is to be expected, it’s just that it added to the ludicrously extreme cost of owning the vehicle.

        I do maintenance. I enjoy it. I enjoy fixing cars. But, seriously, I want to drive the car sometimes, too.

        For perspective, the $7k or so that I spent maintaining the Jetta over the year I owned it was more than half of the cost of owning the car. It’s also more than I paid to purchase my ranger, and I paid about the same $7k to maintain my Ranger over 8.5 years I owned it (I bought the Ranger when it was about 4 years old, and owned it until it was about 13 years old). Surely all of that “high quality” German engineering can be as reliable as my Faulty or Repair Daily Ranger. My Ranger required constant maintenance, too, but at least problems stayed usually fixed!

        TDIs are cool cars. And tdiclub.com is the epitome of a great owner’s community. I loved the diesel engine, and I loved driving mine when it ran. I fully researched the car and read a good portion of the tdiclub postings before buying the car (including a few about this particular transmission), and I maintained it well. But doesn’t change the fact that Volkswagen makes poorly engineered and unmaintainable vehicles.

        Before owning one, I thought that they were basically OK cars that people grouse about now and then. But, g*d d*mn, there’s NFW I can afford to ever own another VAG product. I’ll take the constant steady stream of cheap maintenance on my old Ranger, or the “just change the oil” maintenance of my Prius, any day.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Really happy VW is getting back to their roots (people’s car), but if they do not improve reliability, they will not be around for much longer. I never liked the middle-class stealth wealth concept, and reliability went rapidly down hill as they added more complexity than they could test.

    Bought my 2001 GTI 1.8T new. Probably the best small car I’ve ever driven, and a quality Monsoon system. I still get a buzz when I think about driving it. Gas was $1.50, with manual box it was easy to exceed EPA, and it had sublime torque delivery. But after 2 years, it was out the door. Constantly broken. Everything from auto windows, to worn suspension bushings, to malfunctioning bypass valve. All under warranty, but when things go wrong in a VW, the costs can be crippling. Besides my dad’s MkII Jetta, our family has never had a Dub worth a damn, and we’ve owned about 6 different models.

    Honestly, the situation is quite infuriating b/c the cars are genuinely better than almost any reasonably priced vehicle. The utility associated with the brand is nice as well. Sadly, the positive attributes do not outweigh the inexcusable reliability shortcomings.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      10 years ago VWs were better (until they broke) than competitively priced vehicles because the euro was in the toilet. That $20,000 GTI would have cost you $25,000 if it were made in a factory financed in dollars. So of course it made a $20,000 Honda look cheap inside.

      Today the tables have turned, the dollar is weak and VW (or anyone else) can’t offer a value competitive European car at all. Their affordable cars are coming from Mexico and Tennessee and are no better bargains than anything else built here.

      Even before they break.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        I’m well aware of the shifting exchange rates, but they scarcely impact chassis design and suspension engineering, which are generally regarded as the sirens’ song of German automobiles. By putting American-sized rims and low-profile tires on German vehicles, American consumers turn the sirens’ song into a harpie’s shriek, but that is a story for another time.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I was excited when I scored a new new Beetle upon arrival at the rental lot. However, the car has so far been a disappointment, even for a base model. In terms of quality, it’s worrisome that
    – There are mysterious squeaks and rattles emanating from the bottom of the car. The gas pedal emits a rattles when I step off the pedal.
    – The driver’s window auto-up function is wonky. Sometimes the window would go halfway up and then comes back down immediately.
    – The windows don’t always shut completely when I close the door. (The windows are designed to crack open when you open/shut the door.)
    – Brakes are mushy. Engine is simply adequate.

    Car looks good though! And nicely-designed steering wheel (to hold and turn). Rental has ~4000 miles on it.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    VW is basically taking the Nissan Versa route with the Americanized Jetta and Passat. Cheap, low tech cars with minimalist styling and large interiors.

    The problem is that the Nissan Versa is a reliable car that’s cheap to repair.

    The kind of people that buy a Jetta or Passat because it’s cheaper than a Civic or Sonata are going to lose their sh*t if they have to deal with reliability issues and dealer arrogance.

    Fixing the dealers might be harder than fixing the cars.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Here’s my short response: The Jetta is a really nice car and a great value.

    Long response: I don’t own a Jetta, but I’ve rented one twice (each time for over 4 days and several hundred miles). The first time, my wife who is a total car snob jumped in and said “ooo I love the leather.” I didn’t have the heart to break it to her that it was not leather of the animal kind.

    That first experience stuck in my head.

    Fast forward to last night, when I landed at LAX (after leaving wintery Chicago) and made my way through the plethora of rentals LAX always has to offer, and found the lot agent:

    “I need a convertible”

    “We don’t have any, unless you’ll take a Sebring.”

    “Nope. I want a Mustang.”

    “Don’t have it”

    That meant the Mustang convertibles they had were buried and there was no way Bill or Ted was going to drop what he wasn’t doing to grab “something fun” for me.

    So I went back out to the lot, threw my stuff into a Grabber Blue 2012 Mustang and drove off into the dark LA night. Ride home, AC/DC, Kiss, Rush, Jack In The Box, Curley Fries…good stuff.

    This morning, suited-up, rush hour traffic, angry e-mails, stress, miserable driving experience. I couldn’t get comfortable, the base seats simply didn’t offer enough adjustments. The new 6 cyl, despite having 300hp, needs lots of revs to feel peppy.

    Interestingly, the 2011, Cologne V-6 equipped, Mustang convertible I had for 5 days just a few months ago, felt much more entertaining, even on the few occasions the top was up.

    This Mustang felt heavy, lethargic, no fun. Any life in the steering was muted by the physical size and general feeling of heft. That being said, it was BEAUTIFUL to look at. The stance was right. The wheel/tire combo was perfectly proportioned. Grabber Blue = Awesome, stunning, I want it. On style alone, I’d drop a check off at my local Ford dealer on the way home from the airport. But then I’d have to drive my purchase and not just look at it, like I do so often with the Harley that’s tucked in the corner of my garage.

    So I took the little horsey back to the rental lot, and after realizing none of the cars on my “I’d like to drive it list” were present…I left with another Jetta.

    And as I drove away, I felt my tension ease, a smile took over, the Jetta just felt right.

    So here’s why the Jetta is so good (and to all the critics, I admit, there is a huge difference between renting and actually buying the cow):

    Engine: I used to scoff at 5cyl engines. The VW’s 5 cylinder makes me a believer. It’s torquey yet efficient (my last trip returned over 30mpg in mixed 50/50 city highway driving). The engine is smooth with a nice, throaty, but not obnoxious growl.

    Transmission: Unlike a lot of 5 and 6 speeds, the transmission shifts smoothly with no harsh power-on engagments, clunks, or gear hunting. When you slow to a stop and then start, the Jetta doesn’t lurch like my Honda Fit Sport does. The manual override is a bit lazy, but most are. There is also a bit of throttle tip-in laziness I attribute more to the way the engine makes its power. It feels like turbo lag. Actually, it feels exactly like a Tiguan I had…so maybe it is the tranny?

    Suspension: Unlike the Mustang I was too happy to ditch, this Jetta is actually fun to drive. It’s light on its feet,the steering has real feel, and the car eagerly responds to inputs. There is a fluidity to its motions that so many cars cannot replicate. We have an Audi S4 in the family. This Jetta is more fun to drive. Really.

    On top of that, I spent this Monday and Tuesday with a Maxima wondering how a 4DSC (Four Door Sports Car) could be so boring. I suspect the weight of the 6-cylinder combined with lazy suspension engineering has a lot to do with it.

    Interior: Cheap? Yes. The touch points aren’t what previous VW’s offered or what I’d hope these new Jetta’s would be. The knobs and switches are gritty and they don’t feel like they’re made for the long haul. I’m curious to see what the interior of a Jetta with 100K miles will look like, and I’d gladly pay $1500 more higher quality materials.

    But the overall placement of the switches is pretty good. It’s not Japanese good, but it’s acceptable. The engine, transmission, and suspension make up for it. And the stereo doesn’t require a PHD to operate.

    Oh, and the stereo sounds really, really good for such an inexpensive car.

    Comfort – The seats are pretty good. It took me a few tries to find a nice position. I’d like to be able to tilt the front of the lower seat cushion up. Far too many car companies do this, where they allow the back of the seat to raise, as if preparing to eject the driver out of the car, through the windshield, but don’t allow for a nice cradle position, whereby the driver’s legs are slightly raised. Too bad.

    Based on my first experience with the Jetta, I seriously considered a TDI Jetta Sportwagen. But the dealer experience was awful, awful, laughably, awful. Hoods and trunks open, music blaring from the stereos, pushy salespeople, obnoxiously arrogant sales managers, balloons, confetti, blow up animals…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Also, the predicted maintenance costs for the TDI, combined with the higher cost of diesel fuel and lower mileage (compared to the Prius) sent me over to the local Toyota dealer (who not only gave me what I considered a good deal, but also treated me very well).

    And no huge inflatable gorillas.

    So…Jetta? IF the reliability proves to be as strong as the Jetta’s initial value proposition: a lot of content, quality mechanicals, athletic responses, I don’t know how one could go wrong by buying a Jetta.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Well said Joe!

      As you have alluded to in your excellent post above, we really won’t know how good or bad this current crop of American VWs is until five years from now.

      It’s make-or-break time for VW, and as has been mentioned dozens of times already above, IT’S THE DEALERS, stupid! I don’t think that the big bosses back in the fatherland have any idea what is wrong over here at the dealer level and even less of an idea of how to fix it.

      There is definitely something FUN about driving a VW, even if your windows are falling into the doors every other year. I have never had the same feeling of fun while driving in any of my Hondas, but they tend to be running 99% of the time whereas my VWs are lucky to be on the road 50% of the time (since I do my own repairs, one may sit in the driveway for months, or ahem, years, waiting for me to get to it. Meanwhile, I buy a used Civic to drive to work!).

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      When you rent a car, you merely drive it. The Jetta I used to own was WONDERFUL to drive, when it ran.

      The ownership experience is my issue with Volkswagens, and it was a maintenance whore (I got f*ck3d, and I had to pay for the privileged). Driving it was a load of fun, though.

      If you don’t own the car, the Jetta is *wonderful*.

      Of course, my 2001 Jetta was made 10 years ago, and I owned it in 2007. It doesn’t sound like Volkswagen has done so, but a large company *could* turn itself and its reputation around in 10 years. Hyundai did it, maybe Volkswagen will too?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I don’t know about VW taking a sales lead over Honda – Americans are obsessed with “reliability” and VW just doesn’t come off in the same league as Honda, at least here.

    OTOH, I REALLY like the Jetta and wouldn’t mind owning one, as I prefer the style to anything Honda has, or for that matter, what many others have as well.

    As long as my Impala holds up, I won’t be buying anything, so my comment is probably moot. But still…

  • avatar
    MarkP

    VW should have labeled the Passat as a Jetta L. We have a 2011 Jetta and I can’t tell the difference between it and a Passat unless I study it. I’m afraid VW might have made a mistake with the Passat’s styling, like they did with the Phaeton, which was too hard to tell from the cheaper models.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      The Passat has an “opera window” in the c-pillar, making it look more like a “German Impala.” The Jetta has no such window in its c-pillar.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’ve got a 2008 GTI with 50k miles on the clock, and while it hasn’t been perfect, it has been very good.

    I also know a few people with the latest Passat and Jetta (all diesels) and they are very happy with them.

    I did own two MK4 VWs – a Golf and Jetta, so I know what VW pain feels like. In VW’s case the old adage “the best time to fly is after a crash” seems to be the case. Post MK4 VWs appear to be much better built.

    -ted

  • avatar
    KimJongJefferson

    I will never understand the obsession/fascination ppl have with VW/Audi.

    If I wanted something fun, but potentially unreliable i’d go with a used BMW 3er not vw/audi.

    If I wanted something luxurious, but potentially unreliable i’d go with a used 5er or Benzo, not vw/audi.

    the amount of potential unreliability in vw/audi is far more than the benefits. moreover, there is always lexus for the latter category.

    BUT… ppl will always have the perception of getting german engineering for a Honda/Toyo price (they are just not aware of how the vw’s were appointed in earlier years).

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Have you actually looked at the price difference between BMW’s and VWs? While VWs can be expensive to repair, they are not really in the same league as the costs associated with buying and maintaining a BMW. Myself, I have been looking at getting a sporty wagon/hatch so I have been comparing a used 3er wagon and a GTI. I can get a brand new fully loaded GTI for thousands less than a lightly optioned used 3er wagon unless you look at one with over 50k miles. That is if I can actually find one of those rare beasts. As far as Audi, I think they are about on par quality and reliability wise with BMW these days and it comes down to personal preference.

      • 0 avatar
        KimJongJefferson

        a used bmw. yes i know it’s not a new car and not exactly apples/apples.

        but the depreciation cost vs. driving fun favors a 6MT 3er. this is the route I take, let someone else bite the drop for a 1 yr old.

        when all you need is 6MT & Sports package you’d be surprised at what value a 1 yr old 3er can offer.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        IF you can afford a 1 yr old 3er. I can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed Spaniel

      My feeling is BMW’s are driven by “wannabee” types who buy Coach bags and can boast they drive a BMW. One of my plasticky co-workers just bought an X3, but defends her purchase for the “safety of it”. Yeah right. I will admit BMWs are arguably the best driving car, but they are all over the place here in the Boston area and very common and just not unique enough for that price range. I prefer the reverse snobbery of the VW/Audi brand. They are driven by individuals.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        He’s talking about buying a stick shift 3 series though. Not many people buy a stick shift car to be a “wannabee.” They buy it for the love of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed Spaniel

      My feeling is BMW’s are driven by “wannabee” types who buy Coach bags and can boast they drive a BMW. One of my plasticky co-workers just bought an X3, but defends her purchase for the “safety of it”. Yeah right. I will admit BMWs are arguably the best driving car, but they are all over the place here in the Boston area and very common and just not unique enough for that price range. I prefer the reverse snobbery of the VW/Audi brand. They are driven by individuals.

  • avatar
    rtoddyoung

    My significant other drives a 2010 Jettta. I drive a 2011 Civic. If I could financially unload my POS Civic and get into a 2012 Jetta, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Nice ride, nice handling, and comfortable. I mean, should a 1-year old car rattle like a 70’s Chevy? I don’t care if my Honda is as reliable as butter-on-toast. It’s boring, the interior materials are Wal-Mart cheap, and it’s boring as hell. I only bought the damn thing for the gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Please report back to us a year after the warranty expires on the Jetta….!

      The Jetta I owned was great to drive. It was just lousy to own.

      The Prius in my driveway is the opposite — it’s wonderful to own, but not particularly fun to drive.

      The Prius is a much better car, for my purposes, my wife, son, and I need reliable transportation that gets us to work/daycare every day.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    I bought new – one of the last mkIII GTI VR6s – a ’99 model. It was crude and rude but damn was it quick! Drove it till ~240,000 miles and SOLD it for $5500 7 years later. The only issue I had was the coil pack seal that I repaired myself with some JB Weld.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    Well, since Luke42 posted his disdain for his Jetta TDI, and Sundowner may likely follow close behind, I’ll post my experience with my MK4 Jetta TDI, which was not perfect, but a very enjoyable 4 years/100,000 miles.

    I bought my 2000 Jetta TDI in 2004 with a low 28,000 miles, an off-lease, verified by VW with a Certified Warranty. The car was in horrible condition, either lot damage, or former owner abuse, but it was all fixed and I bought it, even adding another 48,000 miles of extended warranty because I knew I would drive the hell out of it having a 120 mile round-trip commute.

    Within the first few months of ownership, the front subframe broke. This was not covered by VW Certified, or my Extended Warranty, but since I worked at a VW dealer, they gave me a pretty heavy discount on repairs, and the car was perfect. The Certified warranty did replace the front passenger door lock because it would unlock sporadically, and it was VERY hard to reproduce that issue.

    I maintained the car to factory-specified standards, but had to replace the glow plugs twice. I believe 2 went bad and I replaced them, then later on the other 2 went bad, so I replaced all of them. That was the one repair I don’t fully remember other than just doing it twice. I bought 2 sets of tires for it, but NEVER did the brakes.

    I took that car on many road trips, including Route 66. I never felt uncomfortable sitting for excessively long periods of time. The suspension was tight, but not stiff. I could take freeway on ramps at 65-70 MPH regularly just using the cruise control. The Cruise Control was SPOT ON. It maintained speed even up hills without hard down-shifting like on my Fords.

    The car met its demise in Ohio while on a road trip. It got hit in the side by a red light runner 4 years-and-a-day after I purchased it and 129,000 miles on the clock. Instant total loss. I might still be driving that car if not for the crash, but for the miles I drove, my chances of a collision were greater. I haven’t owned a better car. No other car gave me comfort, safety, economy, and a sexy exterior package. The only car I think would have been better would be the Jetta Wagon with a Diesel and stickshift (The TTAC Holy Grail).

    Yes, my Jetta had issues, but not as bad as others anecdotal evidence, and for the mileage I drove it, I’d say the issues were minimal.

    (The front subframe incident did not make me swear off VWs, but did make me swear off Extended Warranties.)

    • 0 avatar
      diesel only

      To everyone. I am knew to this site and a new VW 2011 Golf TDI driver. I never thought about owning a diesel, but now, as my site name suggests, it will be hard to have another gasser. My wife and I just got back from Destin, Fl. Our first major trip with this car. It was truly amazing. With the back seats down, we got both our golf clubs, two carry ons, gym bag, cooler, and snacks, every thing we needed. And best of all 47 mpg. Average speed 65. We get 40 mpg around town. Try that in a Chevy Volt!!! Have 8000+ and is really fun to drive. 6 speed manuel shift. And only need to change oil every 10,000 miles. Great car.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I just can’t screw up the courage for VW love. Just got back from the Vet’s where I was entertained with the problems that one of the groomers is having with her 2006 Jetta. It’s been back to the VW dealer where she bought it 4 times in three months. Latest problem: engine sludge.

    Yeah it was used, but man……I just can’t get past ALL the horror stories I hear. A professor friend bought one for his wife a couple years back. Has now dumped and won’t even talk about it beyond “Never again”.

    Acnedotes aren’t data but they sure are scary when they’re first hand


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