Full 2006 Volkswagen Jetta Review
What's New for 2006
Two new trim levels join the Jetta lineup for 2006: the upscale 2.0T and the sporty GLI. Both feature a 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and both can be equipped with VW's trick DSG direct shift gearbox. All Jettas besides the Value Edition now feature standard alloy wheels, and torso-protecting rear-seat side airbags are newly optional.
The Volkswagen Jetta has always been one of our favorites. Like many cars conceived in Germany, the Jetta possesses an uncanny ability to keep the driver in touch with every undulation and irregularity on the road without sacrificing comfort. VW's small car can no longer be grouped with economy cars like the Civic and Corolla in terms of price, but it hasn't lost any of its appeal with U.S. buyers, thanks to a long list of standard features at every trim level, as well as stylish, comfortable cabins replete with high-quality materials and the signature VW blue and red nighttime illumination.
Volkswagen has kept its top seller fresh with continual upgrades: the introduction of the marvelous 1.8T engine for 2000; the arrival of a wagon version and a sport suspension option for 2001; and the return of the GLI sedan for enthusiast-type drivers in 2002. For 2004, a new and more powerful 1.9-liter TDI power plant debuted. The TDI promises to offer all the economic pluses of a diesel along with comparable power and refinement to VW's gasoline engines. An all-new VW Jetta arrived midyear in 2005, and although it's a better car in every way, it lacks the cool factor of the previous-generation Jetta. Regardless, the new Jetta is a leap forward in refinement, handling, power and value. The addition of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four for 2006 means even greater levels of performance, and the return of the GLI model brings a little excitement back to the Jetta lineup. If you're looking for a car that's small but not too small, not to mention safe, refined and well equipped, the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta deserves consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Volkswagen Jetta sedan is available in Value Edition, 2.5, TDI, 2.0T and GLI trim levels. The Value Edition sedan comes with 15-inch wheels, air conditioning, a 10-speaker CD stereo with MP3 compatibility, cruise control and power windows, mirrors and locks. The 2.5 adds upgraded interior trim and alloy wheels. The TDI is equipped much like the 2.5, while the 2.0T adds a 16-inch wheels, a sunroof, 115-volt power outlet and heated seats. The sporty GLI boasts 17-inch wheels, a firmer suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, color-keyed body cladding and sport bucket seats. Options include a navigation system, leather upholstery, power seats, automatic climate control, a six-disc CD changer and, on the GLI only, 18-inch wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
Value Edition and 2.5 models come with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 150 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. The TDI has a 1.9-liter diesel four that makes 100 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque while getting up to 42 mpg. The 2.0T and GLI feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 200 hp. A five-speed manual is standard on the Value Edition, 2.5 and TDI, while the 2.0T and GLI feature a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic is available on all models. The automatic in the TDI, 2.0T and GLI is VW's DSG direct shift gearbox. A manual transmission by definition, the DSG removes the clutch pedal, and places it under the control of computer chips and hydraulic servos. When left in auto mode, it's as smooth and hassle-free as any conventional automatic. When shifted manually, the DSG offers quick, precise gear changes.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and full-length head curtain airbags are standard across the line. Stability control is either standard or optional, depending on the model. Seat-mounted side airbags for rear passengers are optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the VW Jetta received four stars for driver and passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars for front and rear seat protection in side impacts. The IIHS rated the VW Jetta "Good" (its highest rating) after conducting its offset frontal-impact crash test. The sedan also aced the side-impact test conducted by the IIHS.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Jetta's cabin is filled with high-quality materials and assembled with care. Even the base Value Edition model has an upscale flair with comfortable seating and tasteful trim. A tall roofline gives the front seat a spacious feel. Headroom is a little tight in the rear, but there's ample legroom for adults. Trunk capacity measures 16 cubic feet.
Out on the road, the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta manages to provide both comfortable ride quality and agile handling. Though not as edgy as the previous Jetta, the current model has a rock-solid feel with a surprisingly quiet ride. Acceleration is acceptable with all of the engines, but our favorite is the smooth and potent turbo four. This engine is most enjoyable in the GLI sedan, which has a taut suspension to back it up.