2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Weekend Commuter
May 09, 2011
I psyched myself up for a weekend in our long-term 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI with the reasoning that I like the sound and power delivery of diesels, and that it was the right size car for my driving needs (myself plus two not-too-tall adult passengers). Also, I always liked the seating position and the ride quality of our 2009 Jetta TDI.
By Sunday evening, I'd determined that our 2011 Jetta meets my needs in a weekend car. We went as far as Anaheim (to see the Saturday night Angels/Indians game) and Arcadia, and the car offered ample room and comfort for three adults. The ride is a little too stiff over certain sections of freeway, but for the most part, it's compliant enough over Southern California roads. The turbodiesel four-cylinder has ample torque for passing at 70 mph, and I barely went through half a tank of gas in well over 200 miles of driving.
In spite of that, I can't get excited about the prospect of actually owning this Jetta TDI, and it really doesn't have anything to do with the bland exterior styling. I'm not sure whether to complain about the throttle response or the dual-clutch transmission or both, but this car is pokey and hesistant when accelerating at city speeds and I never can seem to tailor my accelerator pedal inputs to get the response I want. I don't remember our 2009 Jetta TDI being this difficult to drive smoothly.
I feel the same way about the brake pedal, which is overly soft and doesn't give a lot of feedback about your progress in getting the car stopped. I've noticed this about several VWs I've driven in recent years, including a CC, and it's annoying, especially when you have passengers on-board and are trying to brake smoothly.
The hydraulic-assist steering in this car is steady on-center at highway speeds, and the effort levels are OK off-center, but there's little feedback. I'd like quicker steering, I think, but it probably would feel out of character on this car, which just isn't eager to change direction.
A real manual transmission is probably the solution to all my complaints, because then I'd have something to keep me busy while driving the 2011 VV Jetta TDI.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,945 miles