2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Which Car? Oh, the Red One

May 06, 2011


At times, the new-generation Volkswagen Jetta still looks distinctive to me because of the painstaking tidiness of its grille and headlights. Lather it up with the industrial soap at the self-serve wash, though, and it could be any car, no more special than the circa 2000 Accord in the stall next to it. The bright red paint helps, I guess, but somehow our 2005 Jetta TDI looked and felt more special even with its Eeyore gray paint.

But I'm probably just saying that just because our '05 TDI had a manual gearbox and three pedals.

There's no question this 2011 model is more practical. For one thing, it's a lot bigger. It was all I could do to get all the bodywork soaped up in the allotted 4 minutes, and then it took me 10 more quarters to get it all rinsed off. (I then heaped on the love and spent another 4 quarters to vacuum the car.)

I could never have asked adults to ride in the back of the '05 Jetta, but I have no qualms about doing it with this car, which has another 3 inches of wheelbase (104.4 in.) over even our 2009 Jetta TDI. Rear legroom is up to 38.1 inches versus 35.4 in the '09. Mothers Day is Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'll probably even be happy about our long-termer's automated manual gearbox this weekend, as a baseball game is in the plans for Saturday, and sometimes it's nice not to have to do the clutch in/clutch out thing during the post-game slog. I can't figure out how the throttle response got so strange in the 2011 redesign, especially since we had the same 2.0-liter motor (yep, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft) and 6-speed dual-clutch 'box in our 2009 TDI, but maybe I'll recalibrate my right foot over the weekend. I'll let you know how that goes, too.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 2,781 miles

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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