I love my car. It's powerful, fun, and efficient. It has 230k miles and I still love it. Only had the timing chain replaced and the glow plugs replaced and it's still running strong. About 40 mpg going 80 mph on the highway.
2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5A)
The reviews on maintenance costs are spot on. In six years, I've reached double digits in calling a tow truck to come pick me up. x5 alternators, x4 window regulators (3 driver/1 passenger), cat converter, multiple hoses/wires seemed to have disintegrated or melted without known reasons, interior wood paneling is falling off (even double bubble wont keep them on and I used that fixing air planes). Also my black paint job began to fade shortly after the factory 10 year warranty. Now my black car mirrors a dalmatian, which I have begun to explain as it is a "custom fade" paint job. 700 words isn't enough to explain how many problems I've had since 2009.
It is somewhat quick. Additionally, the MPG is pretty good too. 65-70 freeway usually averaged around 34-36. A solid 50 could hold around 39. Other than the MPG, I can't really think of too much more that I enjoyed about this car. Blue dash lights?
Save your money and avoid this car at all costs. If you really want something that will get you from A to B, then this is not for you. The extended warranty is about as reliable as the car.
If you do end up purchasing this vehicle, you will be on a first name basis with at least two tow truck drivers. You may as well hold on to their business cards or put them on speed dial. Stay way from the 2002 models.
With all the negative reviews most people have about this year/model, I have been fortunate to not have the same problems. Dad bought this car in '05, and I have been driving it since '11. Bought car around 60k miles - dad had about $3000 of repairs put into it at time of purchase. Then replaced the water pump shortly after I started driving in 2008. Had to replace inner/outer CV axles after hitting a nasty pothole back in 2012 (cost $500, OUCH!)
Car just passed 176k miles. Trans is having problems (expected, its all OEM far as I know), no electric issues (surprise there), the center console latch and glove box door broke, cloth liner falling down. Good car, plan to have for a while more
This car does cost an arm and a leg to repair if you are unable to do it yourself. After all the miles my family put on it (~60k-148k with my dad, 148k-176k with me) I still have to replace the shocks/struts, tie rods and bushings are worn, master control for the windows broke (driver/passenger side front switches, no the motors), and I potentially have some hoses to replace to address a coolant leak.
Good car if you get the manual trans (I feel like this is where most of the electrical issues spawn), but, again, if you can't do the repairs yourself, it will cost you an arm and a leg to fix and you will be unhappy. However, I love this car.
The automatic transmission 01M of this car made between year 1999-2003 are known to be the most unreliable transmission ever made. Look for it online, there are so many reports of these transmission breaking down from 100k to 150k miles. Mine is even considered a good case, where it broke down right after 200k miles, but throughout my ownership of the car I dropped so much many to fix and maintain the transmission, that in the end, I don't think it is worth it.
Pros: Gets decent MPG. Can reach high speed. The manual version seems reliable from reviews.
Cons: Horrible auto transmission. Loud. Weak acceleration. Expensive to maintain.