Hi Car Talk Community,
I saw a 2001 GLS Beetle 5 speed. It has 133,000k miles on it with no major problems. I don’t know much about VW’s track record on how good the cars are. MPG’s, reliability, cost of repair, etc… I’m looking for a used car for my daughter (1st car) and I thought she might like this one. but I want to get her something that won’t give her problems when she is away at school. Input and advice would be greatly appreciated. THANKS
No VWs from before 2005. Check out Consumer Reports annual automotive issue, it gives reliability ratings for the past 6 years or so for each model of car. While some VWs like the Jetta and Rabbit/Golf look to be reasonably reliable since 2005, Beetles are generally trouble and 10 year old Beetles look to be a big headache. Jettas from that era were notorious for reliability problems. I drive a 2010 Jetta and really enjoy it, but I would never consider a VW that old.
A good online source of reliability & gas mileage is TrueDelta.com, which gives data back to the early 2000s or so. It should be fairly easy to find a list of car models with decent reliability and fuel economy, and you don’t have to leave your home to do it.
If you are referring to this exact Beetle, that you are currently driving, and you have owned it for a few years (if this car is a recent acquisition, you don’t truly know how good or bad it is yet), you have maintained well, and have had few to no problems with, and your daughter will continue to care for it as well as you have, then it may be a good choice for your daughter. If you are referring to buying a similar car for your daughter, then it probably will not be a good choice. Generally, VW’s do not age well and are expensive to repair, but if you can give her a car you are familiar with, has given excellent service, and has been very well maintained, odds are good she will have good luck with the car.
VW with proper maintenance including preventative maintenance means good reliability. VW with minimal maintenance means trouble. Do you know what kind of maintenance the car has had? That is the problem with any used car, you never really know what kind of care it has had.
Rather the looking for a name plate reliability, I suggest you look at the current condition and hope for the best. This applies to all makes and models.
I’ll argue that a VW with proper maintenance means “better” reliability. If vehicle reliability were driven primarily by maintenance habits, VW reliability ratings wouldn’t be much lower than any other brand. Unless VW owners are statistically less likely to perform maintenance than owners of any other brand, and I doubt that is the case.
Thanks all for your input. I have decided not to purchase the VW Beetle.
Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Hyundai Sonata are some good choices
I do like the mazda 3. whats a good year? what about gas mileage?
maintenance? how often? cost?
The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2010 model year, but both generations are good. I think all years are above average on reliability, but check Truedelta or Consumer Reports for specific reliability and mileage information. I doubt maintenance is any more frequent or expensive than the norm, but someone else may be able to give specifics.
No used Mazda3s are going to be tops for fuel economy. This car comes with two engines: the smaller 2.0 liter that is about as powerful as a Corolla/Civic but gets several mpg less, and the larger 2.3 (pre-2010) and 2.5L (2010+) that is strong but drinks more fuel than most midsize sedans (rated 29 on the highway). They just released a 2.0L SkyActiv model that is supposed to get Corolla/Civic mileage, but it is brand new.
Thanks very helpful. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the different trim models.