This is an update from my review from 6 months ago. Well, I fixed the problem with the last check engine light and things were good for a few months. Then, my temperature gauge started working sporadically, sometimes not at all. Finally after a month of this the car threw a check engine light. I had the codes (plural) read, and I am now having a problem with the exhaust (probably 02 sensor), and the cooling system (probably thermostat). I bought the car with 38k miles on it, and I'm now up to 53k miles. Problems so far: airbag replaced, 3 check engine lights, temp gauge not working, exterior "chrome" trim falling off, less than 16k miles put on. Needless to say, I'm getting rid of it soon!!
Still looks great, in my opinion. Still rides well on smooth roads, 1.8T is peppy, interior looks nice.
Reliability. I thought by '04 the problems with the Jetta were mainly over. I guess for most people they were. Interior rattles, seat comfort/leather wear, exterior trim pieces, etc. Maybe these are uncommon problems for an '04, but they have soured my VW experience.