My wife currently drives a 2003 Jetta GLS with the 1.8T "manumatic". It replaced her 1991 CRX. Actually we briefly had an Acura Integra in between, but a new family member required something with 4 doors. I also previously drove a 1993 Honda Accord. Admittedly these are rather older comparisons, but so far her Jetta has been pretty solid for us. We had one issue related to an ingition coil recall and a rough idle corrected with a computer udpate. I would say on the whole it's held up better than the Accord did. When we were comparing to the a Civic at the time, the Jetta just felt so much nicer. I think this was a time when VW wasn't trying to compete head to head but rather to offer a more refined option vs Civic/Corrola. I carpool with someone who drives a more modern Civic (~'09) and continue to like our older Jetta's interior much better
I also found the Jetta so much more fun to drive than the Honda options, although at the time, I don't think the Si was offered with 4 doors.
The reliabilty stats ought to speak for themselves, and you can find our experiences also in the repair histories (look for the '03 Jetta from Vermont). We've got 118K on it now and it's just barely starting to show it's age. Our goal is to hand it off to our son when he hits 15 in another 4 years.
My only hesitation with recommending the current Jetta is that when I was killing time at the dealer for during some maintenance a few years ago, it seemed that the option packages didn't quite match what we had in our older GLS. I thought the base options felt pretty spartan, and the mid-level wasn't quite as nice as what we had. Personal preference also is that I like the older (more square) Jetta styling than the modern Jetta.
Overall, I would definately consider another VW when the time comes. The Jetta TDI wagon would be my choice for a replacement or our current Jetta, but I'm the wagon fan in my household (current car is a 2007 A4 Avant) and not my wife so we'll see.