February 27, 2012
I made a quick trip up to San Luis Obispo this weekend. Thanks to one of those handy, crowd-sourced review sites, I found what the locals rate as the "Best Sandwich Shop in SLO." It's way off the beaten path, but worth finding in its residential neighborhood. Been there?
February 14, 2012
Ever wonder why diesel hasn't earned broad acceptance? Why cars like our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI still represent a tiny share of the market?
Even though it's still not the case, diesel cars have the lingering reputation of being noisy and stinky. But it is true that the fuel smells greazy and comes with an unshakable urge to wash your hands Right Now if you get any on you.
Also it's named after poo.
It seems so unnecessary to add the sad little "#2" onto signs and pumps. "Diesel" by itself seems to suffice. And has anyone ever seen Diesel #1? Is that one pre-mixed with the urea solution necessary for clean emissions?
I jest, of course. There is such a thing as Diesel #1, even though most of us have never seen or sniffed it. It's sometimes called Premium Diesel because it is more expensive to make and is generally found only in very cold areas because of it's lower viscosity. But it's not exactly the premium choice (if you have a choice) because it has less lubricity than #2 and contains fewer BTUs per unit volume.
At best it will allow your engine to run at all in the Great White North, albiet at reduced MPG; at worst it could ruin your engine if it's too un-cold outside.
Here's an idea: let's call Diesel #2 by the name Diesel instead. Or maybe Regular Diesel. Diesel #1 can then be Thin Diesel or Cold Diesel.
Let's face it: we all have a third grader buried deep within our psyche (some deeper than others), so why give the brain any subliminal ammunition it could use to drag diesel fuel and diesel engines through, as it were, the mud?
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 17,150 miles
February 01, 2012
I grabbed the keys to our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI last night. When I walked down to the parking lot this is what I saw. Who parks like this? I know it wasn't me because I was there first. What a jerk. Yes, that means you, Honda guy.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 16,551 miles
January 10, 2012
Volkswagen introduced its 2013 Jetta hybrid Monday at the Detroit Auto Show. The carmaker estimates that the hybrid will have a combined average fuel economy of 45 mpg. My first thought was: "Why bother having a hybrid when Volkswagen already has a perfectly good diesel option?"
We've had a difficult time getting close to the combined mpg numbers in many of the hybrids that have come our way (Ford Fusion Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid and Honda Insight, to name a few). You're probably thinking that's because Edmunds editors have lead feet.
Perhaps we do, but the lead in our feet doesn't seem to have a negative impact on the TDIs we've had. We've been able to meet or exceed the combined fuel economy ratings in all the TDIs we have tested.
I prefer diesel engines because they deliver more consistent results and I find that the torque is much more useable in everyday driving.
Despite this clear advantage for diesel, I can think of a reason why Volkswagen would still produce a hybrid -- perception. As far as we've come in terms of clean diesels, the public perception of these engines is years behind the times. Ask people what comes to mind when they hear the word "hybrid." Then ask them to do the same for the word "diesel." Chances are you'll get opposing answers: clean and dirty.
I get that Volkswagen wants to cover all the bases. But if these hybrid VWs catch on, I wonder if it will be the end of TDIs.
What about you? Would you rather have a Jetta hybrid or diesel?
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate
January 04, 2012
1) Our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI has more get-up-and-go than a Prius. (The 2011 VW Jetta TDI's 0-60 is 8.8 seconds; Prius V's 10.3, 2010 Prius 10.1.)
2) People won't see you coming and instantly assume you're a bad driver.
3) Doesn't emit toxic gas called Smug.
4) That HOV sticker no longer works for Prii so why bother?
5) Comparison Test: Jetta TDI vs. Prius V. 'Nuff said.
Any you'd like to add?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
PS: Relax, I'm just havin' fun. Happy New Year!
January 03, 2012
For the New Year's holiday weekend, we stayed in town but did use our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI to take my dog Mya hiking. Every New Year's Day I like to hike up to Griffith Observatory and past that to Mt. Hollywood to get a lay of the land. Fortunately Griffith Park allows dogs on its trails so Mya was able to tag along.
It was so easy to load her up in the Jetta. I always love it when the seatbelt fasteners protrude from the seat because then it's easier to buckle in this squirming dog. On an unusually warm January day, we turned on the A/C. Unfortunately there aren't any vents in the back but the air coming from the center dash up front was able to reach her just fine.
We didn't have to bring too much of her gear this time -- just the collapsible water bowl and water bottle -- so storage space wasn't an issue.
Mya seemed comfortable enough back there. And as you can see from the photo (man, her head looks huge), she really enjoyed being able to look out the window, sitting up most of the time. Usually when traveling, she'll just lie down.
Anyway, we give the Jetta two paws up for dog hauling. Heh.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
December 13, 2011
I'll say it right here and now -- I'm a fan of our Jetta TDI. Yes, the power delivery could be less lazy off the mark -- although putting the tranny in Sport mode takes the slack out of the step-off acceleration. And so would going with the manual tranny, as I would. Either solution renders this gripe a non-issue for me.
And no doubt you've heard enough about the sedan's little trip downmarket (more hard plastics/less soft-touch, non-adjustable center armrest). But let's not forget that the Jetta's price was dropped too and that most of the essential Jetta goodness remains -- solid construction, comfortable seats, sharp styling and a nice ride/handling balance for the real world of grueling workweek commutes and weekend road trips.
What too many people forget are the Jetta TDI's uncommon and greatest strengths -- great fuel economy along with plenty of pull when you want it, in a roomy, comfortable sedan. There's no need to "try" to get high fuel economy, just drive it in a normal fashion and you'll get 35-45 mpg. Lean into it to pass a left-lane laggard and that swell of turbodiesel power whisks you past. Even with our team of leadfoots and a steady diet of ever-present L.A. traffic, our Jetta is averaging 35.4 mpg, which is slightly better than the EPA's 34 mpg combined figure.
Yep, I'll take the Jetta TDI over a tiny, under-powered subcompact or complex hybrid any day. Specifically, I'd like a Jetta Sportwagen TDI as it looks good, holds a lot of stuff and retains the previous Jetta's nicer cabin. It was also my top pick in our Fuel Sipper Smackdown.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ ~ 15,200 miles
December 07, 2011
Our Jetta TDI's odometer clicked past 15,000 miles this morning, and I quickly grabbed my camera to memorialize the moment.
The shiny red VW has been to the dealer just once during our ownership, and that was for its 10,000-mile regular service which included a TSB for the door seals.
Here's to 15,000 worry-free miles.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,015 miles
November 28, 2011
The Jetta TDI's engine note and power delivery may be coarse, but you can't say the same about its Tornado Red paint job. We've rhapsodized about its richness and depth before, but for me, it's a point that bears repeating; the look of the paint catches my eye every time I walk up to the car and goes a long way toward making the sedan look more expensive than it actually is.
Neutrals like silver and gray are popular with car buyers, probably because they tend to impart a premium look. With the Jetta, it's obvious that red can be just as upscale.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
November 28, 2011
My family was hosting for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, and the Jetta ended up doing a lot of shuttling of relatives coming to visit. This included two round trips to the airport and and daily pick up and drop off at a local hotel.
I suppose it would have been fun to use the M56 or A8 as they would have more easily impressed in terms of gadgets. But the Jetta certainly got the job done, providing respectable legroom for backseat passengers and lots of trunk space for luggage. Plus, it managed fuel economy in the high 30s throughout the ordeal.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 14,461 miles