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How All 43 Generations Rank

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
43rd Jetta Gen 5 2006—2010 23.39
42nd Passat Gen 5 2006—2010 20.07
41st Passat Gen 4 1998—2005 18.89
40th Jetta Gen 6 2011—2017 18.79
39th Jetta Gen 4 2000—2005 18.34
38th Passat Gen 6 2012—2017 15.03
37th Tiguan Gen 1 2009—2016 11.68
36th CC Gen 1 2009—2017 8.95
35th Golf Gen 6 2010—2013 8.85
34th Routan Gen 1 2009—2014 8.26
33rd GTI Gen 6 2009—2014 7.42
32nd Beetle Gen 1 1998—2011 7.02
31st Jetta SportWagen Gen 2 2011—2014 6.48
30th Atlas Gen 1 2018—2018 4.7
29th Golf Gen 7 2014—2017 4.65
28th Beetle Gen 2 2012—2017 4.58
27th Jetta Gen 3 1992—1999 4.03
26th Golf GTI Gen 7 2015—2017 3.81
25th Eos Gen 1 2006—2016 3.77
24th Touareg Gen 1 2004—2010 3.71
23rd Golf Gen 4 1999—2005 3.4
22nd GLI Gen 6 2006—2013 3.29
21st Rabbit Gen 5 2006—2009 2.58
20th Jetta Hybrid Gen 6 2013—2016 1.32
19th Touareg Gen 2 2011—2017 1.31
18th Cabrio Gen 4 1999—2002 1.17
17th Golf Gen 5 2006—2009 1.1
16th GTI Gen 4 1997—2003 0.77
15th Tiguan Gen 2 2017—2017 0.73
14th Vanagon Gen 3 1981—1990 0.68
13th Golf Gen 3 1992—1998 0.63
12th Golf SportWagen Gen 1 2015—2017 0.56
11th Jetta Gen 2 1985—1991 0.4
10th Cabrio Gen 3 1995—1998 0.35
9th e-Golf Gen 1 2015—2017 0.35
8th Passat Gen 3 1990—1997 0.3
7th GTI Gen 5 2004—2008 0.29
6th Cabriolet Gen 3 1992—1993 0.24
5th Cabriolet Gen 2 1989—1991 0.17
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).