2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test


2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Child Seat Fitment Test

July 22, 2011

vw_jetta_seat1.JPG

Since I have a brood of two now, I've amassed an impressive collection of child safety seats. Figuring I'd put them to good use last month, I tested them out in our TSX Sport Wagon to find out how well (or poorly) the TSX fared for kid-hauling duty. Today it's the Jetta's turn. Does the Jetta's newfound expanse of rear seat space make it a keen choice for families with small children?

The short answer is, mostly.

On the bright side, Jetta's increased length and wheelbase for 2011 has freed up more rear-seat legroom. And the more rear legroom a car has, the easier it is to install a rear-facing safety seat. (If you're unfamiliar with safety seats, these are the ones used for infants, and they're typically the hardest to install because they take up so much legroom.)

vw_jetta_seat2.JPG On the Jetta, I installed the pictured Britax Companion rear-facing seat on the passenger side. There was still enough room for the front passenger seat to be comfortably positioned for an adult. The extra legroom is also useful for older kids sitting in a booster seat. With the extra space, there's less chance of your children kicking the front seatbacks. So far, so good.

But then I went to test my Britax Marathon reversible seat. This seat, when in a forward-facing position, almost always needs the rear headrest to be removed. I went to remove the Jetta's and found they wouldn't come out. Ruh-oh.

vw_jetta_seat3.JPG

This safety seat is just placed in the car and not secured or installed properly. For demonstration only.

On some cars you can raise the headrest enough to fit the seat underneath (and that's actually what I did with the Recaro booster). But in this situation, that didn't work. For the Jetta and this Britax seat, the headrest needs to be removed in order to get the safety seat fitting flush with the Jetta's seat cushion and snug against the seatback. (Removing the headrest also makes it a lot easier to attach the top tether strap.)

vw_jetta_seat4.JPG There is a way to remove the headrests, as detailed in the owner's manual. But it's tricky, as you need a tiny screwdriver and probably a second set of hands. If I recall correctly, the rear headrests in our 2009 Jetta TDI were removable in the normal fashion.

Overall, the new Jetta should work out well if you have small children. The extra rear legroom is nice, and the generally flat contouring of the Jetta's seat will help ease installation. But the rear headrests will certainly be an annoyance.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta in VA is:

$147 per month*
* Explanation
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