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If you want a quick, fun, and practical hatchback, then the Volkswagen GTI is arguably one of the best cars that you could pick. Known as the “original hot hatchback,” the GTI has been around since the 70s and has remained a sport compact icon ever since. Although you can still buy a new one, there are plenty of GTIs on the used market, but you might be wondering how many miles you can expect out of one.

With the proper maintenance, Volkswagen GTIs can last a long time

Technically speaking, any car can last for decades and hundreds of thousands of miles with the proper care and maintenance, but that’s especially true when it comes to the Volkswagen GTI. It’s not that the GTI is unreliable, in fact, US News gave the GTI a 3.5 rating out of five, which is “average” as far reliability and Consumer Reports echoed those ratings. However, there are plenty of current Volkswagen GTI owners that have been enjoying their cars for many years without any major issues.

A red 2021 Volkswagen GTI four-door hatchback traveling on a two-lane highway through arid mountains on a sunny day
2021 Volkswagen GTI | Volkswagen of America, Inc.

One important factor to keep in mind if you’re going to buy an older GTI is the maintenance cost. Repair Pal estimates that the Volkswagen GTI will have an estimated annual repair cost of $791, which is higher than the average estimated cost of $526 for other compact cars in its class. According to Your Mechanic’s breakdown of the various repair costs for the GTI, it’s safe to say that the cost of parts can get pricey as well as the labor to install them if you can’t do it yourself. It’s not so much that the GTI is unreliable, it’s just that it can cost more to maintain than one of its Japanese competitors.

The 2.0T EA888 engine inside a yellow 2007 Volkswagen GTI Pirelli Edition
2007 Volkswagen GTI Pirelli Edition 2.0T EA888 engine | Volkswagen

Which Volkswagen GTI model years are the best?

When it comes to picking out a used Volkswagen GTI, the newer that you can go, the better. Car Complaints lists the 2012 model year as the worst one to buy as many owners of that model year file complaints about engine misfires due to carbon buildup in addition to other issues involving the timing chain tensioner and low oil levels. Otherwise, the subsequent years don’t have very many complaints, if at all, so you should be fine picking one of the newer models.

Also, if you do happen to shop for a later-model GTI, then we would suggest finding a 2017 model year or newer as they would still qualify for the Volkswagen Certified Pre-Owned program. By picking a CPO Volkswagen GTI, you will get the remainder of the factory new-car warranty in addition to a 2-year/24,000-mile extended warranty (2017 models) or a 1-year/12,000-mile warranty for the 2018-2019 models. While a GTI does have the potential to last a long time, it’s even better if you have a warranty to back it up.

A red Volkswagen GTI on display at an auto show
A VW GTI | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The 2021 Volkswagen GTI has a lot to offer

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a used Volkswagen GTI and having to pay for any potential issues or expensive maintenance items, then you can always opt for a new 2021 GTI. In addition to worry-free ownership, you’ll get standard driver-assist features, blind-spot monitors, and a potent 228-hp, turbocharged engine. That means that you’ll get many years of driving fun, and what’s even better about the whole deal is that the new Volkswagen GTI also comes with two years of free maintenance.


Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid to Buy a 2020 Volkswagen GTI