2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLS VR6 4dr Sedan (2.8L 6cyl 5M)
There is a reason why the Jetta is the #1-selling European car in the US. I first owned a 2000 Jetta (same as my 2002); this car saved my life and was fun and reliable every step of the way. I have owned my 2002 GLS VR6 sedan since new, and I love my baby to pieces. The standard safety features - ABS, 8 airbags, safety cell construction - cannot be beat. The time- tested VR6 engine is an absolute blast to drive. I can tell you in 100% honesty that I have had ZERO mechanical, electrical, or other reliability issues with this car - NONE. I am fully confident in Jettas and I never plan on buying anything but VWs. If you pressed me for one complaint, Jettas don't come with power seats, which is not a big deal to me.
The smile-factor from the driving experience, cornering, traction, VR6 power, Monsoon audio, seat comfort, cargo capacity, proven safety, build quality, German engineering, heated seats, indigo/red interior lighting, exterior styling, standard features, colors, tried-and-true engine and car!
Until late in 2002, CD players did not come standard, but mine was easy to modify. The hinges on the armrest wore out, but were replaced under warranty. What's known as "soft-touch" material - what covers the interior grab handles and climate controls - has a tendency to peel. Luckily, I had a warranty.