I was over at Winding Road Magazine just a second ago (no link, I was there because it's the slowest loading site in my favorites, bloated and hard to read...) and there were two discussions going on that I really wanted to join in.
1) Are VW's really unreliable?
Yes, unless you get them used. All new cars are unreliable. When you pay what you pay nowadays for a new car, if anything breaks, that's a problem. I own one of the cars that is legendary for being unreliable, a 2001 Volvo V70 T5. Look it up. It's probably the worst car you could ever own. It's not, and I'll tell you why. When you buy a used mid-luxury European car, buy it from a specialist. You buy it from a local Volvo shop, or used Euro car specialist, you'll get a great car that has had all the bugs, recalls, maintenance alerts, little tiny fixes and niggling details worked out. It might have higher mileage... you might pay more than you would at Carmax, but the guy who sold you the car knows every little thing there is to know about the car you're buying and will detail you to death. I've had my car for six years, it's over 130k miles. I've had one major malfunction and two sets of tires (my fault on the tires). Regular maintenance, oil changes and such, get done by me, the 100k service gets done by the independent Volvo shop. things that would kill me to have to fix on my wife's car, I can let ride on mine. Broken trim, a bad turn signal, a burnt out LED, a broken rear wiper. I can let that go until I fix it myself. If my car was new and the turn signal flashed fast? I'd freak. BUT... I bought the car from a Volvo nut. We spent hours talking over the recalls, the software upgrades, the replaced bushings, etc...
Now, my son bought a Jetta. The Mass Airflow sensor failed, the dipstick tube cracked, there's a couple of issues that need to be sorted... BUT... he'd been driving on sludge and fumes for weeks, he had about a quart too much oil in it and he's 16, so he drives like an idiot. Still, a little maintenance and the car works fine. A little on line research and parts can be found for pretty cheap. A couple of minutes with a manual and small fixes are pretty easy to do. Reliable? It works, would I buy a new one? Prolly not. Used? Maybe.
2) Would you buy a wagon?
Yes. I did and would again. As a matter of fact, there's a '91 240 wagon I have my eye on for under $2k. I might buy it and store it if I can get clearance from maddmom. Seriously, you have no idea. My last one was an '89, I sold it for $5k in 2006 when I bought the new one. If I didn't have to report to anyone, I'd have that car in my driveway right now.
I'm in lust. With a wagon.