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How All 41 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
41st Jetta Gen 5 2006—2010 22.74
40th Passat Gen 5 2006—2010 19.81
39th Passat Gen 4 1998—2005 19.21
38th Jetta Gen 6 2011—2017 18.55
37th Jetta Gen 4 2000—2005 18.05
36th Passat Gen 6 2012—2017 14.7
35th Tiguan Gen 1 2009—2016 11.46
34th Golf Gen 6 2010—2013 8.88
33rd CC Gen 1 2009—2017 7.93
32nd Routan Gen 1 2009—2014 7.85
31st Beetle Gen 1 1998—2011 6.98
30th GTI Gen 6 2009—2014 6.96
29th Golf Gen 7 2014—2017 4.65
28th Beetle Gen 2 2012—2017 4.61
27th Jetta Gen 3 1992—1999 4.03
26th Golf GTI Gen 7 2015—2017 3.85
25th Eos Gen 1 2006—2016 3.74
24th Touareg Gen 1 2004—2010 3.72
23rd Golf Gen 4 1999—2005 3.4
22nd GLI Gen 6 2006—2013 2.99
21st Rabbit Gen 5 2006—2009 2.61
20th Atlas Gen 1 2018—2018 2.4
19th Jetta Hybrid Gen 6 2013—2016 1.32
18th Touareg Gen 2 2011—2017 1.2
17th Cabrio Gen 4 1999—2002 1.18
16th Golf Gen 5 2006—2009 0.99
15th GTI Gen 4 1997—2003 0.77
14th Tiguan Gen 2 2017—2017 0.75
13th Vanagon Gen 3 1981—1990 0.68
12th Golf Gen 3 1992—1998 0.63
11th Golf SportWagen Gen 7 2016—2016 0.61
10th Jetta Gen 2 1985—1991 0.4
9th e-Golf Gen 1 2015—2017 0.36
8th Cabrio Gen 3 1995—1998 0.35
7th Passat Gen 3 1990—1997 0.3
6th GTI Gen 5 2004—2008 0.29
5th Cabriolet Gen 3 1992—1993 0.24
4th Cabriolet Gen 2 1989—1991 0.18
3rd Fox Gen 1 1989—1993 0.12
2nd Touareg Hybrid Gen 2 2010—2015 0.08
1st Eurovan Gen 1 2000—2003 0.05

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).