I make frequent business trips by air, renting cars at my destinations. This allows me to try out all the makes of cars rented by Hertz, Avis, Dollar, etc. I therefore know their strengths and weaknesses in terms of performance, ergonomics, styling, fit-and-finish, etc. What a relief it is to pick up my Jetta at the airport for the 160 mile drive home. This car puts the others to shame.
Mine is a turbo-diesel, and I easily break 50 MPG on my highway trips. The first 10,000 miles of city/highway driving worked out to 44 MPG, comparable to the more costly, complex hybrids. And I don't have to wonder what a new bank of batteries will cost me in a few years. The diesel is a proven technology.
For a relatively small car, seating and comfort are impressive. Even my 6'-4" teenage son finds sufficient leg and head room (except in the rear seats, which are admittedly cramped.) He drives an older BMW 3 series, but is happy to take the Jetta anytime.
Reliability? I had one unnecessary trip to the dealer, for a failed break sensor at 22000 miles or so. That and a tiny door noise fixed during an oil change service visit are the ONLY problems I've experienced.
Apparently VW had a problem prior to the 2004 model year with over-use of plastic parts. Maybe those materials were suitable for the relatively mild German climate, and the VW engineers were slow to recognize that they had a problem in hotter and colder areas like the USA and Canada. Based on my experience thus far, they have successfully weeded out the defective parts. Now it's close to perfect.