I owned my 01 Jetta Wagon for years and really enjoyed it. It was pretty trouble free but there was some maintenance that had to be done to keep it that way. The gas milage was great and it was fun to drive. Lots of room in the back of the car and that was great since I have a very large dog.
I thought that the rear seat was fine for kids but tall adults would have a tight fit. Some of the coating on the interior parts was weird. It was rubbery and would scratch off. I also found that the sunroof drains are a constant trouble. They aren't hard to fix in the front but the rear are a pain.
If you buy one of these cars know when the timing belt was done. Very important.
I sold this car recently as I bought a Vanagon and didn't need two cars.
Bought new in 2001, now @ 160k mi. Averaging 31 mpg. Love the versatility of the wagon and the roof rack. Engine is anemic, despite very short final drive ratio of transmission, but car cruises comfortably at 80 mph. Engine has always used 1 qt of oil per 1500 mi, more in commuting, less with long distance travel. Everything is original except most sensors, timing belt, water pump, coil pack, plug wires (2x), horns, consumables like lamps, plugs, filters, brake pads (rear only). Had a few recalls, water intrusion into interior, the lower engine cover has taken many beatings from scraping on curbs, and that's about it. Enjoying a reliable car with no further depreciation.
Reliable drive train, no breakdowns, most expensive maintenance/repair was timing belt & water pump replacement, great versatility with interior space, good ergonomics and long-distance comfort, nice sounding stereo.
I still like my ride and haven't been able to make up my mind for spending $30k for a new car when this one is meeting my needs, is still fun to drive, and costs me little to keep on the road compared to depreciation on a new car.
Had needed 6th gear, unacceptable oil consumption, 115 bhp is the king of underpowered (although the manual tranny makes it a bit more peppy than you expect).
Bought the Jetta Wagon because we had just bought a Golf TDI and were impressed with the great interior and driving experience. Whoops! In two years we've had $6000 in maintenance. 22c/mile, more than twice any other car I have owned. And that's with just 100k on the clock. I've taken numerous Hondas and Subarus past 150k, and NONE of them has ever cost me more than 8-10cents/mi to maintain. Multiple cooling leaks, water pump (plastic impeller) failure (twice). Failed MAF sensor. Electrical, window and door latch problems. Last week a new ECU ($1000). It's not just the number of things, it's the parts cost (which Consumer Reports doesn't report). Example: cup holder broke. The PART was $180!
HUGE cargo capacity. Fun to drive, awesome handling. 8 airbags, safest in class. PHENOMENAL Monsoon stereo. 2.0 L gasser has good torque but loves to rev. Decent mpg compared to most wagons (I drive smarter than most people, and got 32/34 mpg), though still lame by small sedan standards.
Make it more reliable! With parts that mere mortals can afford. Better ground clearance. Better fuel economy. Ditch the TEDIOUS German rotary seat back adjusters. And make it more reliable! Oh by the way, mine was built in Germany, so don't blame Brazil and Mexico for all Jettas' problems! Blame VW!
This is the BEST car I have ever owned. Where do I start? The seats are so comfortable. I can drive 500 miles and be as fresh as a daisy when I arrive. The mpg is amazing. I drive 75 most of the way and still get 34 miles per gallon. My old car would get 28 at that speed. I can fit a ton of stuff inside. I am tall (6ft 2in) so my seat is back a bit. When the rear seat is folded, I am still comfortable. I am not jammed against the wheel trying to drive. Then, the space back there. With the seats up, I can fit three loaded golf bags back there. With the seats down, I was able to fit furniture inside (kitchen table and chairs) when I was moving. Awesome car, highly recommended.
Interior space, front cup holders. I know a lot of people hate them but not me. These things hold that drink solid. Bottles NEVER spill. I love the seats, the mpg (29/34), the lighting, the ride and handling, the Monsoon stereo is fabulous, frigid AC, it is a great looking car, no rattles.
The ease of folding the rears seats down could be better. Tinted windows standard.
What can I say? I am now forever a loyal VW buyer. This car is absolutely amazing. I have the 2.0 with a 5 speed manual. Plenty of power even when fully loaded. I can set the cruise at 70 with people and gear in the car and pull the Grape Vine without losing speed. Awesome. The torque is also amazing. At 1800 rpm in top gear, it will accelerate. Not bad.
I love the driver's seat. It is adjustable every which way and the telescoping wheel, I have space no matter what. The transmission is perfect and the mpg is great. I consistently get 28 mpg in town and 35 mpg hwy. With a 14.5 gallon tank, that works out to 406 mi. city and 507.5 mi hwy.
I would like an extra gear for freeway cruising. While the mpg is good, with a 6th gear, the revs could be at 2500 at 70 mph rather than 3200. That would give the car Civic type mileage and hybrid type range. Yowza!