11 Best & Worst Volkswagen Jetta Years (With Facts & Stats)

The VW Jetta is a front-wheel drive sedan that is one of the top compact cars on the market.

It’s known for its refined handling, good fuel economy, and spacious cabin. 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into its best and worst model years.

Here are the Best and Worst Years for Volkswagen Jetta

Detailed below we’ve ranked the Volkswagen Jetta Models. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

Best Years for Volkswagen Jetta:

  1. 2023, 2022 and 2021
  2. 2018 and 2017
  3. 2008

Worst Years for Volkswagen Jetta:

  1. 2009 and 2010
  2. 2002 and 2001
  3. 2006

What Are The Best Years For The Volkswagen Jetta?

2023, 2022 and 2021 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2023, 2022 and 2021 Jettas are part of the 7th Generation which was introduced for 2019, and they are the most refined models produced to date.

There’s not much difference between these three models and you can’t go far wrong with either of them.

The base models come equipped with a 158-horsepower turbocharged inline-four engine that performs admirably while also providing great fuel economy figures, both in city driving and highway driving. 

These models offer 34 miles per gallon combined, 29 miles per gallon for city driving, and 42 miles per gallon for highway driving. 

The 2023,2022 and 2021 Jettas have received the following consumer scores:

  • Edmunds: 2023 Jetta 4.0/5.0, 2022 Jetta 4.0/5.0, 2021 Jetta 3.9/5.0
  • JD Power: 2023 Jetta NA, 2022 Jetta 75/100, 2021 Jetta NA
  • Kelley Blue Book: 2023 Jetta 4.2/5.0, 2022 Jetta 4.2/5.0, 2021 Jetta 4.2/5.0

Edmunds owners review, 2021 VW Jetta:

“This vehicle drives well above its class. Despite the small engine and low HP, it is peppy and smooth, and is eager to go. It’s very refined in its handling, reminding me of the Mercedes S my Dad had when I was younger and I did my learners permit training on. No, it isn’t a V8 like that, but driving it feels very similar, which means VW had come a long way. No rattles or squeaks so far.”

2018 and 2017 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2018 and 2017 VW Jetta were the final iterations of the 6th Generation, and one of the huge advantages of this is that VW had worked out many of the kinks and issues from when the 6th Gen was launched – in other words they are incredibly reliable. This is reflected in the low number of complaints filed on the NHTSA website.

These models are available with a selection of turbocharged engines that are all reliable, refined and appealing to drive.

Six total trim levels were offered, starting with the S trim level and ending with the premium GLI trim level.

Crash test results (conducted by NHTSA) were also stellar, securing a 5 out of 5 rating for 8 out of the 12 metrics. 

The 2018 and 2017 Jetta’s are two of the least problematic models produced and are a great choice for those looking for a dependable model at an affordable price that is still relatively modern.

The 2018 Jetta received the following consumer scores:

  • Edmunds: 4.2/5.0
  • JD Power: 82/100
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4/5.0

The 2017 Jetta received the following consumer scores:

  • Edmunds: 4.3/5.0
  • JD Power: 83/100
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.4/5.0

Edmunds Review:

“Edmunds’ review is lukewarm, but mine isn’t. This car has been engineered with the driver in mind. It’s German roots are everywhere; from the quick acceleration, confident braking, and on-point handling it is a joy to drive.”

2008 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2008 Jetta is a standout choice for those looking for a slightly older model with a proven track record for reliability.

This model was one of the later iterations of the 5th Generation that was launched in 1999 and despite its age, it sports a classic German design that doesn’t look out of date.

The 2008 Jetta has been praised for its pleasant driving manners and has been described as an “upscale economy car”.

A lot of thought was put into the interior build, as were the materials used, safety features were numerous, and the exterior build quality was top-notch. 

Safety features include four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS), seat-mounted side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags, and stability control (for certain trim levels only). 

The 2008 Jetta received the following consumer scores:

  • Edmunds: 4.6/5.0
  • JD Power: 81/100
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.5/5.0

Edmunds Review:

“Edmunds’ review is lukewarm, but mine isn’t. This car has been engineered with the driver in mind. It’s German roots are everywhere; from the quick acceleration, confident braking, and on-point handling it is a joy to drive.”

Consumer Scores For Best Volkswage Jetta Years

Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Jetta model years from reputable vehicle websites:

Model YearEdmunds’ 
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book’s
Consumer Rating
JD Power’s
Consumer Rating
2023 VW Jetta4.0 / 5.04.2 / 5.0NA
2022 VW Jetta4.0 / 5.04.2 / 5.075 / 100
2021 VW Jetta3.9 / 5.04.2 / 5.0NA
2018 VW Jetta4.2 / 5.04.4 / 5.082 / 100
2017 VW Jetta4.3 / 5.04.4 / 5.083 / 100
2008 VW Jetta4.6 / 5.04.5 / 5.081 / 100

What Are The Worst Years For The Volkswagen Jetta?

2009 and 2010 Volkswagen Jetta

Based on stats provided by CarProblemZoo.com, the 2009 Jetta was the most problematic model year out of all models on this list, accruing a total of 1,118 complaints. 

This was closely followed by the 2010 Jetta with a total of 1,014 complaints – we advise you to steer clear of these two models.

Commonly reported issues include electrical gremlins such as windshield wipers and door locks not working and also fuel pump failure which led to many instances of breaking down.

The most commonly reported problem however, is related to the brakes.

Owners reported that the brake system seemed to have had a mind of its own and instances of sudden, unintended braking were widely reported.

In other instances owners reported that the brakes did not work correctly, for example, the wheels would lock up and the car could not be stopped quickly.

These issues have been traced back to a faulty anti-lock brake system (ABS) module.

2002 and 2001 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2002 and 2001 VW Jetta’s were notoriously problematic, and they were plagued by a variety of issues.

These were some of the earlier models from the 4th Generation and they were subject to numerous recalls also.

The 2002 model received 877 complaints and the 2001 model received 856 complaints, according to NHTSA data.

The most widespread issue with these models was the failure of the ignition coil and the ignition coil witing harness.

To make matters worse, despite repairs, these components seemed to continually fail.

The most common symptom of this is engine stalling whilst driving.

Owners also widely reported that the airbags deployed for no reason and that the seat heaters were prone to overheating and burning the seats.

2006 Volkswagen Jetta

According to the statistics provided by CarProblemZoo.com which tracks NHTSA complaints, the 2006 Jetta is the fifth most problematic model ever produced.

Commonly reported issues cited included transmission failure, gear shifting issues, and check engine light illumination. 

The most common issue experienced by numerous owners of this model year was related to the powertrain.

Transmission shuddering, power loss, limp mode activation, and improper shifting were widely reported, which basically rendered their vehicles unfit for purpose.

Problems with the airbag system and its associated warning lights were also widely reported.

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Listed below are the number of reported problems for each VW Jetta model year.

We’ve used CarProblemZoo.com’s database which tracks NHTSA data.

Model YearProblems
2023 Volkswagen Jetta0
2022 Volkswagen Jetta5
2021 Volkswagen Jetta22
2020 Volkswagen Jetta40
2019 Volkswagen Jetta455
2018 Volkswagen Jetta13
2017 Volkswagen Jetta164
2016 Volkswagen Jetta184
2015 Volkswagen Jetta233
2014 Volkswagen Jetta495
2013 Volkswagen Jetta644
2012 Volkswagen Jetta651
2011 Volkswagen Jetta762
2010 Volkswagen Jetta1014
2009 Volkswagen Jetta1118
2008 Volkswagen Jetta234
2007 Volkswagen Jetta271
2006 Volkswagen Jetta755
2005 Volkswagen Jetta348
2004 Volkswagen Jetta283
2003 Volkswagen Jetta551
2002 Volkswagen Jetta877
2001 Volkswagen Jetta856
2000 Volkswagen Jetta626
1999 Volkswagen Jetta484
1998 Volkswagen Jetta246
1997 Volkswagen Jetta214
1996 Volkswagen Jetta251

What Problems Do Volkswagen Jetta Have?

Airbag Problems

The airbag system of numerous model years of the Jetta was very problematic, according to reports we found online.

The main culprit is clock spring failure. The clock spring is a component that is responsible for maintaining an electrical connection between the steering wheel and the rest of the vehicle. 

A faulty or defective clock spring would trick the system into thinking that the airbag is not present in the vehicle, leading to its airbag warning light coming on.

Failure of the clock spring can also lead to other annoyances, including horn failure, non-responsive steering wheel controls, clicking sounds, and check engine warning light illumination. 

Owners experienced this issue the most when making hard turns, meaning that the clock spring component loses functionality when the steering wheel is turned in either direction. 

Transmission Issues

Grinding, scraping, whirring, and whining noises were very common in certain model years, specifically the 2019 Jetta.

These sounds only represented the surface of the transmission issues, as some reports have also reported jerky acceleration, loss of power, low RPM, and vehicle stalling. 

Unfortunately, this may have had something to do with Volkswagen’s tweaks to the transmission and powertrain in order to improve fuel economy. 

Owners also experienced transmission issues at relatively slow speeds, between 20 miles per hour and 30 miles per hour. 

It was also reported by numerous owners that transmission errors popped up in both normal driving mode and eco driving mode. 

Timing Chain Failure

The biggest and most hazardous issue that has been attached to the Jetta badge is timing chain failure.

It was most frequently observed in the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 model years. 

If a timing chain fails to align the necessary components, the timing of the engine will no longer be in sync with the other parts, leading to potentially abrupt engine damage and complete vehicular failure.

Unfortunately, owners are unable to prevent this issue as this has something to do with how the vehicle was built or assembled, meaning that once the problem was identified, it would have already been too late. 

To make things even more complicated, numerous reports have specified that timing chain issues began as early as 50,000 miles up to 100,000 miles. 

Related: 7 Most Common Volkswagen Jetta Problems

What Are The Best Alternatives to the Volkswagen Jetta?

Detailed below is a selection of models that are a good alternative to the Jetta.

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy
Hyundai Elantra8.0$20,500 – $27,050City: 28-33 / Highway: 36-42
Honda Civic8.6$22,550 – $30,050City: 26-33 / Highway: 36-42
Mazda38.6$21,150 – $34,750City: 23-28 / Highway: 31-36
Kia Forte8.5$19,090 – $24,490City: 22-31 /Highway: 31-41
Toyota Corolla8.0$20,425 – $28,710City: 28-32 /Highway: 36-41
Subaru Impreza7.8$18,795 – $26,395City: 22-28 / Highway: 30-36
Volkswagen Jetta7.8$20,365 – $32,095City: 26-31 / Highway: 36-43
Nissan Sentra7.5$19,610 – $22,200City: 28-29 / Highway: 37-39
Hyundai Veloster NNA$32,500 – $34,000City: 20-22 / Highway: 27-28
Subaru WRXNA$29,105 – $41,895City: NA /Highway: NA
Volkswagen GTINA$29,880 – $39,130City: NA /Highway: NA

Source: Cars US News

Related: How Long Do Volkswagen Jettas Last? (12 Important Facts)

What are the Pros and Cons of the Volkswagen Jetta?


  • Safe and secure ride
  • Spacious cockpit
  • Great fuel economy
  • Adult-friendly seating
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Smooth driving
  • Sufficient storage space
  • Customizable digital instrument cluster


  • Dull interior
  • Overboosted steering
  • Overly relaxed body control
  • Lacks in performance
  • Stubborn brakes at low speeds
  • Too much plastic material used in the interior

Related: 11 Volkswagen Jetta Facts & Statistics You Should Know










  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...