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Ranking 56 Volkswagen Generations by Reliability

Sorting models by their generation gives us a clearer picture of common problems across a group of similar vehicles. From there, we can assign scores to each generation to give you a basic picture of which to consider and those to avoid. The higher the score, the faster you should run away.

Rank Model Gen Years PainRank (?)
56th Jetta Gen 5 2006–2010 23.81
55th Passat Gen 5 2006–2010 19.92
54th Passat Gen 4 1998–2005 18.97
53rd Jetta Gen 6 2011–2017 18.91
52nd Jetta Gen 4 2000–2005 18.57
51st Passat Gen 6 2012–2017 15.08
50th Tiguan Gen 1 2009–2016 12.26
49th CC Gen 1 2009–2017 9.36
48th Golf Gen 6 2010–2013 8.85
47th Routan Gen 1 2009–2014 8.77
46th GTI Gen 6 2009–2014 7.43
45th Beetle Gen 1 1998–2011 7.14
44th Jetta SportWagen Gen 2 2011–2014 6.77
43rd Atlas Gen 1 2018–2018 6.73
42nd Golf Gen 7 2014–2017 4.77
41st Beetle Gen 2 2012–2017 4.58
40th Jetta Gen 3 1992–1999 4.03
39th Eos Gen 1 2006–2016 3.96
38th Golf GTI Gen 7 2015–2017 3.81
37th Touareg Gen 1 2004–2010 3.75
36th Golf Gen 4 1999–2005 3.4
35th GLI Gen 6 2006–2013 3.29
34th Rabbit Gen 5 2006–2009 2.58
33rd Polo Gen 5 1.74
32nd Vento Gen 1 1.58
31st Jetta Hybrid Gen 6 2013–2016 1.32
30th Touareg Gen 2 2011–2017 1.31
29th Cabrio Gen 4 1999–2002 1.17
28th Golf Gen 5 2006–2009 1.1
27th Amarok Gen 1 1.05
26th Citi Golf Gen 1 0.97
25th Caddy Gen 3 0.91
24th GTI Gen 4 1997–2003 0.77
23rd Transporter Gen 5 0.75
22nd Tiguan Gen 2 2017–2017 0.73
21st Vanagon Gen 3 1981–1990 0.68
20th Golf Gen 3 1992–1998 0.63
19th Touran Gen 1 0.56
18th Golf SportWagen Gen 1 2015–2017 0.56
17th Polo Gen 4 0.51
16th Jetta Gen 2 1985–1991 0.4
15th Cabrio Gen 3 1995–1998 0.35
14th e-Golf Gen 1 2015–2017 0.35
13th GTI Gen 5 2004–2008 0.34
12th Sharan Gen 1 0.32
11th Passat Gen 3 1990–1997 0.3
10th Polo Gen 3 0.28
9th Cabriolet Gen 3 1992–1993 0.24
8th Microbus Gen 4 0.2
7th Scirocco Gen 3 0.19
6th Cabriolet Gen 2 1989–1991 0.17
5th Golf R Gen 1 0.15
4th Fox Gen 1 1989–1993 0.12
3rd Touareg Hybrid Gen 2 2010–2015 0.08
2nd Eurovan Gen 1 2000–2003 0.04
1st Jetta SportWagen Gen 1 2009–2010 0.0

Answers to the most frequently asked questions

What Are Vehicle Generations?

Generations are groups of model years where the vehicles are continuously produced, use similar engineering, and share features. Generational data is not always cut-and-dry – manufacturers might not always release generation information, some generations might last longer in different countries, and various trim levels and model variants can make the whole thing confusing. We do our best but make no guarantees about our generation data. When in doubt, we stick with data about US models.

Why Are Some Vehicles Missing a 1st / 2nd / 3rd Generation?

You might notice that some of our data starts at generation 5, 6, etc. So what happened to the older generations? One of two things. 1. some models have been around a long time and we don’t have any complaint or NHTSA data about them. 2. some new models share the same platform as existing models, so we typically tie them together. For instance, a new hybrid vehicle might be introduced during the 5th generation of its non-hybrid counterpart. We’ll typically start the hybrid’s generation at 5, unless it’s otherwise noted.

What is PainRank™? Where Does it Come From?

PainRank™ is a CarComplaints.com algorithm that uses complaint data from owners (the average mileage of failures, the cost to make repairs, etc), relative complaints analysis, sales numbers, NHTSA data, & owners’ own vehicle rankings to come up with a number representing how much pain a car inflicts on its owners. The higher the PainRank™ score, the more painful a car is to own (typically).