Bought a 2002 Jetta wagon in Oct 2001 and I love the car. I got the 2.0 liter 5-speed manual transmission and this car has no problems accelerating with one person. The cornering is excellent and the ride feels like a sports car. The interior looks and feels great (esp. at night). Small size makes parking easy. The wagon gives you almost as much cargo space as a small SUV with much better gas mileage.
I have 87,000 miles on my 2001 Jetta VR6 wagon. So far I have had the mass air flow sensor replaced, which VW refunded part of the money. And the coil also was replaced, but what really flip me out was that the rear brakes had to be completely replaced at 25,000 miles that cost $1000. I love the way the car performs, but not so crazy with the fuel economy; highway 22 to 25 mpg city 15 to 18. What I don't see other owners talk about is the stereo, I think it is the best car stereo a car manufacturer has installed in a car in its class. I also notice that with this five year old car that the imitation wood trim is cracking and it will need to be replaced
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.
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.
I got this car just a few months ago. Ever since I got it, I have had nothing but problems. No skid plate anymore, 3 bent rims, it doesn't take potholes and dips too well. A newer clutch, the throw out bearing is already going out. It needs engine mounts, no matter which way you push your window button, it will go the way it wants to. In less than 3 months I have already had to replace alternator, serpentine belt (twice) battery, brakes and roders, 02 sensor. There is a short somewhere in the car. My lights will randomly flick on and off just driving down the road. It's fun to drive, and speedy. But unless you have a couple thousand saved up in the bank for repairs, don't get this.