"I bought my '02 2.0 Jetta in August of 2007 after my Mitsubishi decided it no longer wanted to run. Apart from issues finding reverse (standard transmission) I fell in love with the performance of the car almost immediately.
When purchased, it had a little over 50,000 miles on it so I'm coming up on quadrupling it's mileage in 7.5 years. To date I've had to do the timing belt and water pump twice, and that is literally the most I've ever had to spend on the car in one fell swoop.
Working on the car yourself can be a little aggravating because everything is in the way of everything else. Little things like changing the headlights are exacerbated by the placement of the battery. Overall, though, just tack an extra 30 minutes on how long you think it should take to fix it on a non-German vehicle and you'll probably be spot on.
Being a standard transmission has greatly helped out in the winter, as the roads in CT are less than ideal after snow or hail. I've never lost control on the roads in this car, however if it were an automatic I may have issues because of it's small size.
Having two children now I'll likely be replacing it with a slightly roomier Passat in the near future. The car is plenty spacious if you're not constantly carting people around, and the rather small amount of back seat space is made up for by a generously sized trunk (folding rear seats to extend cargo space is a plus as well.)
All in all, I would recommend this car to just about anyone (especially the standard). It's fun to drive and has had so few non-routine issues for me I don't mind keeping it around even with it's high mileage."
"We have owned this TDI since new and are getting a reliable 48 mpg. It is easy and cheap to maintain and fun to drive. It only has 90 hp but lots of torque. It has been very reliable (so far only glow plug harness outside of regular maintenance)."
Pros: "Turbo fun, great handling, german engineering"
Cons: "Cup holders are weak"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I cannot believe how great this car has been for the past 13 years. I have only replaced 1 set of brake pads on it; otherwise just normal maintenance. Make sure to use synthetic oil every 5k miles and do the timing belt at 75k miles and you will be fine. This car is fast fun and reliable."
"I bought a 2002 Jetta 1.8T with 109,000 miles. Transmission had to be rebuilt at 109,500 and now has to be rebuilt again at 116,000 as well as the timing belt and cooling system. Needless to say, do not buy a 1.8T"