I have a regular Warn winch that doesn't see much use and my $0.02 is that the VR is probably an OK winch. They are not completely made in Oregon like the M-series, but they are also not 100% off shore either. Warn isn't going to ever let you know how any of their winches are designed or made, since even a 100% USA-made winch isn't 100% USA-made. Parts are going to come from all over.
The real question (and why I stuck with a higher end) is that even though we are not power users like a crawler might be, the downside of having one fail is higher since walking is not ideal or maybe even an option at all when you're out exploring, especially solo. So I decided that if I was going to have a winch, it would be one that I trust will work after sitting out there for months. IOW, it's by virtue of the fact that it does /not/ get used much why I felt the need to trust that it would when it need to.
The paradox being a cheap winch that is loaded a bunch will start to exhibit symptoms, noisy, slow, whatever, in use that warns you of impending doom. So if I was to bolt on a cheap winch I would feel the need to test it more. That's probably something that we all should do but being a realist I know it doesn't. So spending the money I looked at as insurance in a way. I will not care that the M8000 would have cost $500 more than a VR8000 when a VR is melted down 100 miles from anywhere in a Wyoming snow drift. You can't escape decades of proven and known performance.
Plus you can rebuild an M-series a dozen times over and Warn will never stop making parts that allow you to do so. VR? Maybe. How about the Tabor they used to make? I dunno. I suppose the point is buy once, cry once. Or something like that. A $400 winch that fails you when you /really/ need it is $400 wasted but a $1,000 winch that works is worth every penny.
'91 Pickup - Imelda
'08 Tacoma TRD - Donna
'09 Kawasaki KLR650
'12 Gunnar Rockhound 29
"Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. " --Albert Einstein