Why a Ford is a better buy than a Volkswagen

A in-depth comparison between a Volkswagen Jetta and a Ford Fusion

Buying a car is a stressful thing. It is probably the second most valuable purchase you will make (after your house) and there are a lot of factors to consider. If you are focused on getting the best value for your money, the standard advice you hear is to buy a car that holds it’s value and to buy a used car due to the depreciation that occurs when you drive off the lot. It is also a good idea to keep a car as long as possible because very few things depreciate as much as a car does after it is purchased. When it comes to purchasing cars, you hear a lot of names like Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Volkswagen repeated consistently, especially discussing used cars. While this may seem like sound advice on the surface, it may not actually be the best advice to follow. With these traditionally quality brands, the value of the car is already in the price. These cars have a slower rate of depreciation than most, which is great if you already own one but if you are in the market to buy a used car these might not be the best purchases. Logically the best car to purchase is one that is more valuable than people think it is so you can purchase it below it’s actual worth. I’ve found this brand loyalty to be particularly strong with Volkswagen owners. It might have to do with the fact three of my immediate family members own Volkswagens as well as a few of my friends and I have to hear about them a lot. Also, to be fair, it is not just Volkswagen owners that feel this way (full disclosure, I am a bit biased to Subaru) but when I started thinking which car inspires a large amount of brand loyalty Volkswagen Jetta jumped to the top of the list. As a competitor, I tried to think of a car that does not have such a rabid following and decided that a Ford Fusion might be a good competitor. It targets the same sort of audience and offers the same type of experience for a fair comparison to someone who is not passionate about cars (not that any Volkswagen owner would admit to this). So without further ado, lets get to the numbers. All the numbers below are obtained from used car ads unless otherwise mentioned. ![Car Depreciation Rate by Year](/media/Jetta_vs_Fusion_year.png) If you look at the graph above this is a chart showing the average depreciation of a Jetta vs. a Fusion. If you imagine you wanted to buy a Fusion in the next month, using the chart you can see a 2014 Fusion depreciated $3776 while a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta only lost $1690 of it’s value. The trend of a greater loss of value for a Ford Fusion continues until just after the 2009 model year where for the first time the Volkswagen Jetta loses more of it’s value then the Fusion does. That is all well and good for model year but what about the depreciation loss due to driving? Well, there is a chart for that too. ![Car Depreciation Rate by Kms](/media/Jetta_vs_Fusion_km.png) Here you see the same trend. In the first 40, 000 kms the Fusion deprecates $3754 while the Jetta only loses $1220 of it’s value. Again this trend continues until around 150, 000 kms where the lines cross and the Jetta starts losing more of it’s value compared to the Fusion. This is all well and good but what about reliability and maintenance factoring in to those costs. For that I did a bit of research at J. D. Power’s and Associates website that gives a list of cars and their average ratings in three different categories. Here is the average breakdown of the Fusion and the Jetta ### Fusion * Quality - 3.66 * Performance and design - 3.77 * Reliability - 3.88 ### Jetta * Quality - 2.56 * Performance and design - 4.11 * Reliability - 2.3 Looking at the big picture, you can see that the Ford Fusion has a higher quality and reliability rating than the Volkswagen Jetta according to J. D. Power and Associates. You can also see that the Ford Fusion depreciation by year or price is much greater than the Volkswagen Jetta (between 2 and 3 times!). It stands to reason that if you are in the market for one of these used vehicles, it is better to be buying a Fusion then a Jetta if you are planning to keep the car over a long period of time. Conversely if you plan to switch vehicles often or own one of them already, the Jetta would be a better choice in these circumstances. When you get down to specifics the condition of the car probably matters the most and there is no website that exists that will tell you than the specific car you are looking at is a good buy or a bad one. However, in helping narrow down your decision on these sorts of things, knowing the general trends, which cars are undervalued, and the overall quality ratings can be invaluable.