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The Best Vanguard Funds

These top-rated ETFs and mutual funds are excellent choices to buy and hold in 2023 and beyond.

A photo illustration of author Susan Dziubinski.

With more than $6 trillion in assets, Vanguard dominates the mutual fund and exchange-traded fund landscape in the United States. The asset manager is a go-to choice for long-term investors for many reasons:

  • Vanguard funds tend to be low in cost. Vanguard has built its reputation as a low-cost asset manager and it remains one of the industry’s lower-cost providers.
  • Vanguard funds generally pursue simple, reliable strategies. Vanguard’s brand is synonymous with index funds which, by their very nature, are simple in their approaches and reliable in their performances.
  • Long-term investors can easily build well-diversified portfolios exclusively of top-rated Vanguard mutual funds or ETFs. Vanguard covers the bases with excellent choices among the three main asset classes: U.S. stocks, international stocks, and bonds. It also excels when it comes to more tightly defined strategies, boasting highly rated style-specific, dividend-stock, real estate, and inflation bond funds.

Morningstar’s list of the best Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs for long-term investors to buy and hold in 2023 features top-rated funds that we expect to outperform their competitors over a full market cycle. Investors can confidently buy and hold these funds in a long-term portfolio.

Best Vanguard Index Funds to Buy: Stocks

These Vanguard index mutual funds and ETFs investing in stocks have at least one share class that earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, as of April 2023.

  1. Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index/ETF VDADX VIG
  2. Vanguard European Stock Index/FTSE Europe ETF VEUSX VGK
  3. Vanguard Extended Market Index/ETF VEXAX VXF
  4. Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Index/ETF VFWAX VEU
  5. Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small Cap ETF VSS
  6. Vanguard Growth Index/ETF VIGAX VUG
  7. Vanguard Large Cap Index/ETF VLCAX VV
  8. Vanguard Mid-Cap Index/ETF VIMAX VO
  9. Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth Index/ETF VMGMX VOT
  10. Vanguard Mid-Cap Value Index/ETF VMVAX VOE
  11. Vanguard Real Estate Index/ETF VGSIX VNQ
  12. Vanguard S&P 500 Index/ETF VFIAX VOO
  13. Vanguard Small Cap Growth Index/ETF VSGAX VBK
  14. Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index/ETF VSIAX VBR
  15. Vanguard Total International Stock Index/ETF VTIAX VXUS
  16. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index/ETF VTSAX VTI
  17. Vanguard Total World Stock Index/ETF VTWAX VT
  18. Vanguard Value Index/ETF VVIAX VTV

This list of Vanguard’s top index funds to buy that invest in stocks includes a good deal of variety. Some of the funds invest around the globe while others favor U.S. stocks. Others track indexes based on market capitalization (mid- or small-cap stocks) or investment style (growth stocks or value stocks)—or both. To fully understand a fund’s strategy, be sure to read its Morningstar Fund Analyst Report. There are all the building blocks here to create a well-diversified, buy-and-hold, low-cost equity portfolio.

Best Vanguard Index Funds to Buy: Bonds

These Vanguard index mutual funds and ETFs investing in bonds have at least one share class that earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, as of April 2023.

  1. Vanguard Long-Term Bond Index/ETF VBLLX BLV
  2. Vanguard Long-Term Corporate Bond Index/ETF VLTCX VCLT
  3. Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Index/ETF VSTBX VCSH
  4. Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities Index/ETF VTAPX VTIP
  5. Vanguard Short-Term Treasury Index/ETF VSBSX VGSH
  6. Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond Index/ETF VTEAX VTEB
  7. Vanguard Total Bond Market Index/ETF VBTIX BND
  8. Vanguard Total International Bond Index VSIBX

Vanguard’s top bond index funds to buy for the long term run the gambit, with solid choices investing in taxable bonds of varying types and maturities—and even include tax-free and inflation-protected bond funds. Here, too, most investors will find the low-cost building blocks they need to balance out an equity-heavy portfolio.

Best Vanguard Active Funds to Buy and Hold

These Vanguard active funds investing in stocks, bonds, or some combination of the two have at least one share class that earns a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold, as of April 2023.

  1. Vanguard California Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Bond VCADX
  2. Vanguard California Long-Term Tax-Exempt Bond VCLAX
  3. Vanguard Capital Opportunity VHCOX
  4. Vanguard Dividend Growth VDIGX
  5. Vanguard High-Yield Corporate VWEHX
  6. Vanguard High-Yield Tax-Exempt Bond VWALX
  7. Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax Exempt Bond VWITX
  8. Vanguard Long-Term Tax Exempt Bond VWLUX
  9. Vanguard Limited-Term Tax Exempt Bond VMLUX
  10. Vanguard Primecap Core VPCCX
  11. Vanguard Primecap VPMCX
  12. Vanguard Short-Term Tax Exempt Bond VWSUX
  13. Vanguard Tax-Managed Capital Appreciation VTCLX
  14. Vanguard Ultra Short-Term Tax-Exempt Bond VWSUX
  15. Vanguard Wellesley Income VWINX
  16. Vanguard Wellington VWELX

Although Vanguard may be best known today for its comprehensive and highly rated suite of index funds, the asset manager lays claim to several excellent actively managed funds, too, across all asset classes.

Vanguard’s active funds to buy and hold are managed by various well-respected subadvisors, including Primecap and Wellington Investment Management, among others. Like Vanguard’s passive funds, the highly rated members of this active funds lineup charge modest fees.

How to Find More Top Vanguard Funds to Buy and Hold

Of course, focusing only on Vanguard funds that earn a Gold rating may be too limiting for some long-term investors. Those who’d like to consider Vanguard funds beyond of our top rating can:

  • Watch Vanguard in 2023, a comprehensive conversation with Morningstar’s specialist on Vanguard about the firm’s funds.
  • Visit Morningstar’s asset management company hub for Vanguard. Once there, review lists of Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs, and segment those lists by criteria such as active or passive, stock or bond, and more.
  • Build your own Vanguard mutual fund and ETF screen using the Morningstar Investor Screener tool. Beneath Investment Type, choose either mutual fund or ETF; type “Vanguard” as the keyword. Then drill down further based on asset class, Morningstar category, ratings, and other metrics that matter to you.
  • Test-drive how a collection of Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs might work together in a portfolio by using the Morningstar Instant X-Ray tool. Simply type in the tickers of the Vanguard funds you’re interested in (and in what portfolio proportion); click “Show Instant X-Ray;” and uncover what that portfolio’s asset mix, style diversification, sectors and fees look like.

More About Vanguard

Here’s a roundup of some recent notable Morningstar commentary about Vanguard:

Tax Efficient Retirement-Bucket Portfolios for Vanguard Investors and Tax Efficient Retirements Saver Portfolios for Vanguard Investors showcases sample portfolios for retirees and those saving for retirement built exclusively of Vanguard funds.

Vanguard Target Retirement Series takes a deep dive into the firm’s target-date series.

Looking Under the Hood at Vanguard Charitable scrutinizes the asset manager’s donor-advised fund.

What to Know About Vanguard reviews some of the asset manager’s activities heading into 2023.

Upgrade for a Vanguard Fund That Offers Inflation Protection takes a deep dive into the rationale behind a recent change in rating for Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities Index ETF.

Will Other Firms Adopt Vanguard’s Unique ETF/Mutual Fund Structure explores Vanguard’s hybrid ETF/mutual fund structure and whether other asset managers will take a page from Vanguard’s book when the structure’s patent expires this year.

Investors Are Shunning Vanguard’s Best Funds examines the migration of assets from Vanguard’s active funds to its passive funds.

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The author or authors own shares in one or more securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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