Are Volkswagens Reliable – Top 5 Dependable Models Reviewed

Like any other vehicle, you cannot tell how reliable a Volkswagen (VW) car will be once you buy it. You have to drive it for a few years to discover its problems. Therefore, there is no definite answer to the question: are Volkswagens reliable?

However, we can take into account Volkswagen’s reliability ratings from different research organizations to find out the dependability score of different VW cars. We have collected data from Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, and Repair Pal to reveal the most dependable Volkswagen cars. So, let’s find out:

Are Volkswagens Reliable Cars?

The simple answer to this question is that some are reliable while others are not. If we consider 2022 J.D. Power’s brand dependability, Volkswagen ranks 22 out of 33 automotive brands. On the other hand, Consumer Reports (CR) has recommended all VWs for the 2022 model year (except Golf GTI) with an overall rating of over 70 out of 100 for all the cars. RepairPal’s reliability rankings of 4.0 out of 5.0 for Jetta, Golf, Tiguan, and Passat are also solid.

Depending on the rankings from Consumer Reports (CR), J.D. Power, Repair Pal, and U.S. News, here are the most reliable Volkswagen cars.

1. 2022 Volkswagen Jetta

volkswagen jetta

J.D. Power Reliability: 76/100, RepairPal: 4.0/5.0, CR Overall: 73/100, U.S. News: 7.7/10

Boasting excellent fuel economy, a comfy ride, roomy seating, and easy-to-use infotainment, the 2022 Jetta came with an updated interior and exterior.

Volkswagen also revised the trim lineup, added more safety systems, and offered a peppier 1.5-liter turbo as the base mill. On the downside, it is not as fun to drive as its competitors are, and some interior parts are low-rated.

The standard facilities comprise a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto & Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch digital cockpit, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and 14.1 cubic feet of cargo room.

If the 158-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine isn’t agile enough, you can opt for a 228-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while an eight-speed automatic or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters is optional. You should get the Jetta with auto transmission for the highest fuel economy rating of 31/41 mpg city/highway.

Apart from a ‘Good’ rating in five crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and an overall rating of ‘Five Stars’ from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the compact car comes with some desirable standard safety facilities. We are discussing forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, etc., are optional for the base trim and standard for the high-end trims.

Repair Pal says its annual ownership cost is $609, encompassing repairs and maintenance. You won’t have to go for repairs so often, with an average of 0.3 visits per year.

2. 2020 Volkswagen Passat

volkswagen passat

J.D. Power Reliability: 83/100, RepairPal: 4.0/5.0, CR Overall: NA, U.S. News: 7.8/10

The 2020 VW Passat came with improved design and torque while retaining its gentle ride and roomy interior. J.D. Power’s reliability rating of 83 makes it ‘Great,’ but it lags in various departments compared with its rivals. For instance, it offers a lower fuel economy rating and numb handling compared to its competitors.

However, independent research organizations consider it one of the most reliable Volkswagens, thanks to very few defects, malfunctions, and design flaws. There have been three safety recalls so far regarding airbags and exterior lighting, but they aren’t severe.

Coming back to this affordable midsize sedan, its dependability stands on the rich feature list consisting of a 6.3-inch center display supporting MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Front Assist, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, and so on.

The flagship SEL makes the offering even more desirable with genuine leather upholstery, heated rear seats, an eight-speaker Fender audio system, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, and a park assist system.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 174 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque won’t win races, but it holds on its own and offers composed handling. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard delivering 23/34 mpg city/highway fuel economy, which is below par in the segment.

Speaking of crash tests, the 2020 Passat is the safest you can get in this segment, with the highest rating of Good in all six collision examinations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also rated it with an overall Five out of Five Stars.

Repair Pal says the average ownership cost will likely be $639 for yearly repairs and maintenance. Moreover, you’ll likely go for spontaneous repairs 0.4 times a year.

3. 2021 Volkswagen Golf

volkswagen golf

J.D. Power Reliability: 73/100, RepairPal: 4.0/5.0, CR Overall: NA, U.S. News: 7.9/10

The last model year in the seventh generation came with all the right ingredients to give the best user experience. The main highlights include a high-end interior, poised handling, spacious seating and cargo hold, and great fuel economy with a stickshift. The only downside, in our opinion, is the sluggish powerplant on the highway speeds. In the city, it offers enough oomph to run daily errands, though.

If you ask us whether are Volkswagens reliable, pointing to the VW Golf, our answer would be affirmative. First off, a 6.5-inch display with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi hot spot compatibility, synthetic leather upholstery, a synthetic leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity keyless entry, a sunroof, and automatic headlights are standard.

While there is nothing fancy about the basic features, we highly admire the standard driver assistance tech comprising forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Besides, the overall Five out of Five Stars from the NHTSA and the best rating of ‘Good’ in five collision trials from the IIHS make you feel safe on the road.
A 147-horsepower turbocharged inline-four-cylinder is solid for city driving and delivers excellent fuel economy of 29/39 mpg city/highway (with manual). If you feel this engine is underpowered, you can always go for the Golf GTI with a perky 228-horsepower engine.

In terms of practicality, the Golf offers the best-in-class cargo space – 22.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats or 52.7 cubic feet by folding them.
Repair Pal reliability rating of 4.0 and average annual repair cost of $630 aren’t bad either. You will probably visit workshops just 0.3 times per year for unscheduled repairs.

4. 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan

volkswagen tiguan

J.D. Power Reliability: 83/100, RepairPal: 4.0/5.0, CR Overall: 61/100, U.S. News: 8.0/10

Your number one reason to go for the 2020 Tiguan is the top-class reliability rating from J.D. Power. However, if you do not just trust this American consumer research and analytics firm, you should know it was the U.S. News’ finalist in the 2020 best compact SUV for families. Besides, you won’t mind the third-row seating, user-friendly infotainment system, some upscale tech facilities, and gentle ride. The negative side is the ho-hum mill and low fuel efficiency. NHTSA had three recalls related to seat belts mainly.

Available in five trim levels, the base variant is nicely equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot, a 6.5-inch display supporting Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and MirrorLink, and 37.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats (2WD model).

The safety tech starts with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The top-of-the-line model spices things up with a hands-free liftgate, adaptive headlights, a surround-view parking camera system, real leather seats, a heated steering wheel, and a 9-speaker premium Fender audio system.

The 2020 Tiguan aces all the tests carried out by the IIHS, with the SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line receiving Top Safety Pick award. Unfortunately, NHTSA couldn’t completely crash-test it.

The power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four yielding 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The power goes to the front wheels, and the all-wheel drive is optional. Like the lazy engine for highways and a meager towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, the fuel economy is subpar, rated at 22/29 mpg city/highway.

RepairPal reports that you have to spend $582 for repair and maintenance annually and probably go for unscheduled repairs 1.5 times a year.

5. 2022 Volkswagen Taos

volkswagen taos

J.D. Power Reliability: 75/100, RepairPal: NA, CR Overall: NA, U.S. News: 8.0/10

The brand-new model from Volkswagen, this subcompact SUV, is a pretty good option if you want to enjoy a comfortable ride, excellent fuel economy, respectable engine power, and poised handling.

While the 6.5-inch touchscreen with VW’s MIB infotainment system, push start button, Android Auto & Apple CarPlay compatibility and a Wi-Fi hotspot aren’t very fancy, 27.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats or 65.9 cu-ft with the seats folded is very impressive and above-average in the segment.

Like regular interior features, the engine isn’t quick off the line and on the highways but offers suitable power for city driving and delivers segment-leading fuel economy. The Taos houses a 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo-four mill, powering the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive variants use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Taos returns 28/36 mpg city/highway fuel economy with the standard front-wheel drivetrain.

In the safety department, the 2022 VW Taos isn’t the top performer, with four ‘Good’ and two ‘Acceptable’ ratings from the IIHS. The driver assistance features are aplenty, but the majority of them are optional for the base trim and standard for the flagship SEL. The range-topper offers lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, navigation, and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection.

Common Problems With Volkswagens

Reading about the top 5 most dependable VW models, we are sure you have got the answer to your question: are Volkswagens reliable? Like all other vehicles on the road, Volkswagen cars have their highs and lows. Most of its vehicles have received average or above-average reliability ratings from different research organizations, which means problems are more frequent compared to top performers like Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Toyota, etc.

Over the years, different VW vehicles reported different issues. For instance, the Jetta (2010-2013 and 2019) models faced transmission and body hardware problems. The second-generation Tiguan suffered from plastic intake manifold breakdown, untimely water pump wear, and subframe clunk.

With its five recalls, the T-Roc troubled owners with defective seat belt retractors, wobbly brake pedal plates and engine covers, frail headrests, and improper rear spoiler adhesive.

The 8th-gen Golf came with software problems like flawed sign recognition and a malfunctioning radio.

If we talk about the most common issues with Volkswagens that keep these cars’ dependability ratings low, there are a few culprits. The first offender is excessive oil consumption. The VWs are notorious for consuming more fuel compared to their rivals due to worn piston rings, valve seals, or a worn-out turbo.

The second most common issue owners reported with their Volkswagens is the malfunctioning front assist technology that applies brakes even with nothing in front. It happens due to software bugs or dirty front sensors.

Apart from an overactive Check Engine Light due to a free gas cap, defective sensors, or shorted wires, premature DPF clogging is another common issue with Volkswagens.

So, Are Volkswagens Reliable – Our Verdict

The German automaker creates about 11 million vehicles every year, which shows people’s trust in the brand. Most of the issues owner reports arise when the vehicles clock 100k or above miles, which is common for most brands.

However, when evaluated overall with other brands, the VW cars are less reliable. On the other hand, they are mostly more affordable and require relatively less maintenance in the early days of ownership (specifically newer models) compared to their competitors.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.