Ways It's Better than Mine - 2011 VW Jetta TDI Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

2011 VW Jetta TDI: Ways It's Better than Mine

April 13, 2012

Jetta TDI at Pepperdine.jpg

I returned to my alma mater of Pepperdine University last night for the retirement party of Dr. Mike Jordan: journalism professor, student paper faculty advisor and one of those people who've played a huge role in my life and career.

That meant driving up the coast to Malibu and I could think of no more fitting car to drive than our VW Jetta TDI. You see, while I was there I was accompanied by a 2000 Jetta VR6 (oh how I miss her). Now, rather than going on as I have in the past about why Jetta Mark IV is better than stripped out Jetta Mark VI, I decided to remove my rose-tinted windshield, push aside my general dislike for this car and consider ways in which this Jetta has nevertheless improved over the years.

1) Buttons on the steering wheel. Mine didn't have that. The car in between had more.

2) iPod interface, touchscreen, satellite radio, navigation system, et al. Those things didn't exist in 1999.

my jetta.jpg 3) Improved switchgear. The rest of the cabin has been cut for cost, but the parts bin switchgear is still better than what it was 12 years ago.

4) Fuel economy. True, my VR6 was about a half-second quicker from zero to 60 than our TDI and didn't grumble like a canal boat. But it also got a pretty pathetic 17 city/24 highway and 19 combined.

5) Transmission. I'm not the biggest DSG fan, but it's monumentally better than the four-speed auto that was in my Jetta (hey man, I was 16 and couldn't drive a manual yet).

6) Safety. Twelve years of airbags and structural innovation obviously add up.

7) Some would probably say back seat space, but I wouldn't. I liked the smaller Jetta. If you want a bigger back seat, buy a Passat.

8) Oh man, struggling here.

9) Warranty! Mine only had a pathetic 2 year bumper-to-bumper warranty, though with free scheduled maintenance. My Jetta was pretty problem free, but the current car's 3-year warranty would obviously be preferred.

Yep, I think that's it. Won't make it to 10. Damn it, I tried. Might be a back handed compliment, and maybe it's hard to overcome pleasant memories, but those are the ways I think this Jetta is better than its grandfather.

Did I miss anything?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 21,988 miles

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