Phil, I voted for the Jetta. We have about 12,000 miles on ours already. I was never crazy about the slab style body work, chromed grill but my biggest complaint is lack of ground clearance. I hear there is an all new Jetta in the works. The car is solid in the snow we've been getting here but I've only been on plow packed roads. I'm using the tires the car came with... don't even know what they are. This car is much heavier than my '97 Passat TDI and better in the snow but I think it's the tires on the Passat. The Jetta is almost as heavy as my '99 Passat. The best mileage (according to the on board computer)seems to be driving around here on local roads that I describe as rural/suburban and hilly. We routinely get in the low to mid 40 mpg. Interstate travel I get in the high 30s going up to the mountains and mid 40s coming back but I seldom drive the posted speed, usually 5-10+ except when snow covered. The TDI and six speed manual are a marvel. The car accelerates well in every gear. I can loaf around town in 6th at about 45mph but it will require a down shift if you need to move rapidly.
I've jammed 4 sets of skis in the pass through with enough room for boot bags and a small cooler stacked in the back and still have room for 4. The standard stereo is good but I have hearing loss from years of industrial work. Heated seat and mirrors are nice too. Plenty of leg room in the front but a little tight in the back (do you really care?)
I must have been extremely lucky with all the VWs I've owned because the maintenance issues have all been standard, brakes, a clutch on my 99 Passat after my daughter and boyfriend tried to 'rock' it out of a snow drift (already had 100,000 plus on the O) one in my Eurovan with more than 100,000 on the O (I bought it used so can't say how it was driven) Still have the same clutch in my 86 Jetta that has 240,000 on the O, CV Joints after 100,000 and struts and shocks. My Jetta has some electrical issues that started in the last few years but it sits a lot. One turbo for the 99 after 200,000 miles, one fuel injector pump for the 86 after 200,000 + a radiator for one. Is this excessive? I've owned VWs for over thirty years and I've only owned 9 and put over or near 200,000 on all of them except the new one. I will say this for every one of them, they are not an appliance. Even the standard diesel is fun to drive.