2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Something's Missing

April 17, 2012

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Here's one of our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI's rear doors. Something obvious is missing here, but I never would have noticed it if I hadn't had my family in the backseat.

Over the weekend, my fiance and I went out for lunch with his parents in the Jetta. And the rear doors didn't automatically unlock when I put the transmission in Park and shut off the car. I was barely aware that the Jetta did this (leave the rear doors locked, that is) until I heard the discussion in the backseat -- they were feeling around on the doors looking for locks to pull on or push and not finding anything.

Eventually, they found this central unlock button... it's on the back of the front console and not exactly in a location where rear passengers would normally look for a means of opening the rear doors.

Update: Turns out this is a moot point. The passengers have changed their stories... they were able to pull on the door releases and open the doors. Nothing to see here, folks. Sorry.

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2011 Vollkswagen Jetta TDI: The Opposite of Intuitive

April 09, 2012

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Ok, this is admittedly picky, but since the Jetta's time is almost up here I figured it worth a mention.

I've never liked the way you adjust this car's mirrors. The knob just isn't very intuitive. Turn it backward to adjust the right hand side, clockwise for the left and I'm not sure what leaving it in the middle does. Oh, and crank it all the way forward for heat. I wonder if anyone even noticed that's possible?

Add to that the fact that it unnecessarily clutters up the door and I rest my case. Just put it down on the dash somewhere and stick a rocker switch on it already.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta: The Black Hole

March 22, 2012

jetta_footwell_1600.jpg That's the passenger's footwell. Or what I call, the Black Hole.

The Jetta's black-on-black interior and lack of footwell lighting makes it difficult to find items that were either placed in the footwell or fell from the passenger seat. Like my black purse, my black running shoes, my black laptop sleeve, my cell phone...

I've left countless items behind in the Jetta when I parked it for the day. Granted, it's not so bad in super bright daylight, but this photo wasn't taken during the dark of night, either.

Give me a lighter interior, or bigger light package, please.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: No Parking Lights?

February 14, 2012

11 vw jetta light switch I was looking at the light switch on our Jetta this morning and was curious about how few options I had for lighting choices. From 9 o'clock to 12 o'clock, we've got Fog Lights, Lights Off and Low Beams. No Parking Lights option.

I can live without automatic headlights, but I actually use parking lights frequently enough to miss this option on the switch. The owner's manual tells me that when the ignition is switched off, the parking lights and daytime running lights may stay on, and that "Parking Lights" as a light switch option is available on some Jettas. But this isn't the case on our TDI's light switch.

What do Jetta TDI owners do at the drive-in? Does anyone go to the drive-in anymore? I used to love the drive-in.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 17,177 miles

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Turn Signal Death Spiral

January 30, 2012

jetta_cluster_turnsignal.JPG I find one-touch / three-blink turn signals, like those in our longterm 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, useful and handy. However, such a feature should always include a 'cancel' function, which is something our TDI lacks.

For example, a car materializes in the adjacent lane just as you tap the turn signal lever down for a three-blinker. Wanting to cancel the turn signal, you quickly tap the lever the opposite direction, but the Jetta three-blinks the other direction. In desperation you tap the lever down once more... congratulations, you're in a turn signal death spiral. It happened to me twice during the weekend. Argh. Surrounding cars probably thought I was messing with them. Or on drugs. Maybe both?

As I'm typing this it occurred to me that it's possible our TDI has a cancel function if you tap the lever in the same direction. However, I'm one foot out the door for a flight so will have to look into this at a later date. Or perhaps one of our trusted readers knows the answer?

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Put This in Every Car

January 28, 2012

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I talk about sunroofs quite a bit on this site but most of the time the conversation is simply about the roof itself. I don't delve into the issue of sunroof control as often as I probably should, so let's start out with the best one in the game which is found in our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

This is, by far, my favorite method of sunroof control and should probably be installed in every car -- damn the licensing costs. How's it work? Easy as can be: Turn it all the one one way to open it all the way, turn it all the way back to close it. No holding it, no waiting, just one touch and it's done. It's as quick and easy as turning off the stove. You only want it open part of the way? Don't turn it the whole way.

If we're being honest, a big dial hanging off the roof isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but the function far exceeds the aesthetic shortcomings.

So the Jetta's is the best, which is my least favorite?

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Rear Defroster

January 19, 2012

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It was 45 degrees outside this morning when I left my house at 7 a.m. The windows of the Jetta were completely fogged over, but certainly not frosty.

I immediately hit the rear window defroster button. Next time I looked down, it was already off. After turning the defroster on two more times, the rear window had only cleared to this point.

Hmmm...can the Jetta really not handle a California beachfront winter, or is there a more serious issue?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 16,139 miles

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Alright! Who's the Wiseguy?

January 09, 2012

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At some point during the night, somebody got into the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and threw a bunch of leaves all over the front seats. Oh, wait. That was boneheaded me. I forgot to lower the tilt-up moonroof.

Besides the incredibly warm temperatures our notorious Santa Ana Winds bring, they also bring increased wildfire potential, leaves, pollen, and dust. Lesson learned. Thankfully, I don't have hay fever.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Now That's a Seat Heater

December 21, 2011

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Heh, seems Donna and I are on a seat heater tear.

OK, now this is what I'm talking about. Had our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI last night and cranked up the seat heater to the highest setting. Within a short amount of time, I was feeling the need to shed my wool coat, the same one I wore when testing out our Infiniti M56's seat heater, and enjoyed the roasting from the VW's seat. Loved it!

This morning it was particularly chilly and after 10 minutes of driving the seat had warmed up, not at its hottest temp yet but still better than how the M56 did, which was tepid. (I might have to borrow that laser thermometer for official numbers.) And I know no one would cross-shop these two cars but I'm just comparing them since I experienced them back to back. Anyway, props to the Jetta for warming my bones so efficiently.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Now That's How You Do Sun Visors

December 05, 2011

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Now here's a sun visor done right. In our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI you can actually extend it to cover up that hole left by most other sun visors, like in:

Nissan Juke

Mini Cooper Countryman

Mitsubishi Outlander GT

OK, now that we know this technology exists there's no excuse to continue making visors without an extender, right? Riiight?

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Clean Dash

November 30, 2011

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Not a huge fan of clutter. That's probably why, for me, the dash layout on the Jetta is just about perfect.

All the info I need, and none of the stuff I don't. I glance at the thing and I never have to take a second squint to find what I'm searching for. And I also like the look of the font -- simple yet elegant.

I know there are some -- many? -- who think the dash looks too bare and perhaps a bit low-rent. What do you think? Clean or cheap?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Interior Storage Review

November 30, 2011

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One of the few things I didn't like about our departed 2010 GTI was the lack of interior storage. There just weren't many places to put your stuff. That's not an issue with our Jetta, though, as it fares pretty well. Detail photos follow after the jump.

Front seating area: Up here, the Jetta offers a lined front cubby, wide door bins with bottle holders, two cupholders, a medium-sized lined center console bin, a sunglasses holder and a glove box. The glove box isn't very big, though it's two-tiered and has extra coin and pen storage capability.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Smart Use of Space

November 21, 2011

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Look at that. That's the Jetta's glove box. See how there's a separate little ledge there up top? This allows you to store the car's owner's manual while leaving plenty of space for anything else you might want to shove in the glove compartment.

That's a smart use of space. I like thoughtful little touches like that.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Some Light On The Matter

November 14, 2011

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So I was futzing around with the sun visor in our Jetta and noticed this...

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Everything Is Illuminated

November 14, 2011

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As I was leaving work in the Jetta TDI on Friday night I realized I needed to adjust the side mirrors. I glanced over at the driver-side door and was pleased to find that the controls that allow you to do this are illuminated. As you can also see in this top photo, the controls that heat up the side mirror light up as well.

And...

...the same goes for the control that opens the trunk.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Agree and Disagree

November 08, 2011

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I agree with Donna D. that the Jetta TDI's interior has a lot of hard-touch surfaces. And I also agree that the leather-ish material on the Jetta's seats can be particularly sticky on hot summer days, especially when wearing shorts.

But, as I drove from Santa Monica to Dana Point yesterday, I realized I disagree that the Jetta is actually an uncomfortable car. The front seats have impressively plush cushions, while the seatbacks have ample lateral support for the (albeit limited) cornering forces the Jetta can attain. And the ride is plenty smooth for highway duty.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,741 miles.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Cupholders

November 07, 2011

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Yeah, I know, thrilling stuff. Cupholders are something you might not think much about unless they're really bad. But believe it or not, I do have a cupholder story: It was several years ago and I had taken a Mini Cooper S out for a quick lunch and was hightailing it back to the office with a chocolate shake in the cupholder. I took a left-hand turn pretty hard, forgetting all about my shake, until it went flying across the car and spilled all over the floormat and carpet. The most upsetting thing wasn't that I had to spend so much time cleaning up the mess, but rather that I didn't get to drink my shake.

Even today all cupholders are not created equal. It's amazing how many are incapable of properly holding drinks in place, whether it's because the cupholders are too large, a lack of anti-tip tabs or because of a slippery base surface. Or all of the above.

But the Jetta's two center console cupholders are done right. Four anti-tip tabs per cupholder, a large enough size to fit most drinks and a grippy rubber surface at the bottom. The only downside is that those plastic anti-tip tabs can make quite a scratching noise when removing flimsier water bottles from the cupholders.

I have yet to encounter any drink becoming dislodged during hard cornering in the Jetta TDI. Although I must admit I haven't done the chocolate shake test yet...

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,670 miles.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Ambient, Are You Out There?

October 13, 2011

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The first thing you want to do when it gets really, really hot outside is complain to someone about how really, really hot it is. When I got in the Jetta TDI today, I couldn't easily find the ambient temperature display, so how was I going to complain (brag) about our current heat wave to my family back east?

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Telling Time

October 11, 2011

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Our Jetta has a feature that's common in lots of cars: thumb-friendly bump-outs on the steering wheel that let you comfortably place your hands at the 10 and 2 positions.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned at Edmunds' annual driving school last week that 10 and 2 are not the best positions for your hands when you're driving. You're better off at 9 and 3 or even 4 and 8. (It goes without saying that you shouldn't be a 6:30 or high-noon driver.)

During our evasive maneuver exercise, the instructor laid out the reasoning for us: Let's say your hands are at 10 and 2 and you're in the midst of a sharp swing left. Your right arm is now in front of the airbag, which is set to cushion your chest and head -- which are 18 inches away. Your arm, being much closer, is likely to get broken by the airbag when it explosively deploys.

Isn't it strange that many steering wheels invite a hand position that driving experts say is not the best for your safety? Judging by a quick Google search, our instructor was definitely not in the minority with his advice. Lots of driving schools -- and even New Jersey's driver's manual -- advise 9 and 3 as the safest position for a driver's hands.

Are you a 10-and-2 driver?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @12,150 miles

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Bring Back The Knob

October 04, 2011

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I miss the seatback adjuster knob that used to be so common on VWs, as opposed to this lever that's found on the Jetta now.

There's nothing overly wrong with the Jetta's current lever setup. But the knob was superior because it gave you the ability to just barely turn it for the smallest of adjustments, giving that perfect seatback angle every time.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 11,837 miles.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Missing Something

September 08, 2011

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This isn't the dash of our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. If it were, I wouldn't have a post for today. This is the dash of Ron Montoya's 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI.

Now, apart from lacking the "highline combi-instrument display" that allows you to reconfigure the annoying door locks (it's also got a bigger screen, different colors and controls for footwell lighting!), our Jetta is missing some other things present here....Spot 'em?

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Dos Speedos

September 07, 2011

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I know plenty of cars have two speedometers, the "old-fashioned" round gauge and a digital readout, but as I fired up the VW Jetta this morning, I thought, "Why?"

Tell me why, please.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 10,599 miles

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Armramp

August 24, 2011

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I'm generally easy to please when it comes to seat comfort. But one thing that annoys me is when a manufacturer messes up something as elementary as a center armrest. Whether they make them out of hard plastic, uneven with the door armrest or leave them off altogether, man, that just bugs me. And my stinkeye has turned to our long-term Jetta on this one.

See that armrest above? It's canted forward. Why? I don't know, but it shouldn't be. That armrest doesn't really allow me to rest my arm there, it just offers a tenuous perch for my elbow. Besides the angle, it's also too small. Other VWs have an armrest that slides forward, but not our Jetta. If I were on a road trip, I'd probably prop it open with my wallet or something.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Annoying Door Locks

August 17, 2011

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**Edit: I've gotten some emails saying that there is a way to fix this in the car's settings operated by one of the stalks. I didn't see it anywhere, but will look again tomorrow A.M. and report back.**

We've talked here before about door locks. I want them to work when I press the door lock button and ONLY when I press the door lock button while some of you want computers trapping you inside of cars for no apparent reason.

Previously I'd commended the BMW 528 and the Volvo S60 (both in a different tax bracket than our Jetta) for having smart, driver-selectable door-locking programs. Now it's time to rant about the Jetta for having really, really dumb locks.

So first things first, you can't change how they work. They do this and nothing else.

Here's what they do...

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Child Seat Fitment Test

July 22, 2011

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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.)

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: More Shiny Stuff

July 06, 2011

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In our ongoing gripe-fest regarding overly glare-y interior bits, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI gets dinged. Its metal breastplate around the shifter shines like the dickens (whatever those are) when the sun's out. Fortunately that only happens every day. Unless you live at one of the poles, in which case you have more pressing things to complain about, like being pursued by polar bears or chafing from your moose-hide undergarments.

Where were we? True, the offensiveness of the Jetta's breastplate is tempered by its sorta-matte-like finish and a generally uniform profile. Regardless, you'll want to drape a t-shirt around the Jetta's shifter when driving in a sunny area. Grumble grumble.

[Note that the photo above doesn't capture the reflection in anything like a real-world way. It's far more blinding/annoying in person.]

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Speedo and Tach Attack

June 13, 2011

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Volkswagen's human factors engineering department must be experiencing some sort of ongoing internal power struggle. Take a look at the speedo and tachometer in our 2011 VW Jetta TDI. In particular, have a look at the tach.

See anything amiss? Apart from the lowish diesel redline?

Sorry, it was a trick question. There's nothing seriously wrong here.

Now let's look at the last generation Jetta TDI. Ours was a 2009 example.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Interior Volume

June 03, 2011

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I would have bet you a dime that the interior of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is significantly more spacious than that of the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

And of course I am wrong once again.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: My Knees Were Pleased

June 01, 2011

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Yes, those are my knees. Note their distance from the front seat back. Not bad for a car of this size. I'll point out that the front seat was adjusted to my liking which is abnormally close for a person of my height (6'2").

This Jetta is often knocked for getting too big and going too mainstream. The bland styling doesn't help either. But can you blame Volkswagen for making it more comfortable for average sized people. Makes sense, no?

The seats themselves are about average as far as shape and comfort. Nothing terrible about the rear bench, nothing great about it either. Overall, it's about the kind of rear seat you would expect in a car like the Jetta.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 4,166

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Information Blackout

May 23, 2011

2011 Jetta TDI Wheel.jpg See that blank space on the 2011 Jetta TDI's steering wheel? That's where the controls for the Multifunction Display (MFD) used to be. The current Jetta Sportwagen and the Golf have on-wheel controls. And our last Jetta TDI had them too.

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2011 VW Jetta TDI: Broke Seat Surround

May 13, 2011

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Not sure how it happened, but the rather sturdy plastic piece that surrounds the Jetta's driver seat has broken. Poor quality? Excessively catch-prone pant legs? Don't know, but since it's not making it difficult to move the seat, I'm guessing we'll get to this whenever we get the car in for its first service.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3.034 miles

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: What Happened to the Cool VW Gauges?

May 10, 2011

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One of the biggest disappointments about the redesigned 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is staring me in the face each time I get into our TDI sedan.

Yes, this is all you get. The analog temperature and fuel gauges are gone. The blue and red illumination I liked so much in the 1999.5-2005 and 2005.5-2010 Jettas is gone, replaced with this spare white-with-red lighting.

And the trip computer has very limited functionality, and its small display takes up only half of the big plastic indentation allotted to it. This (below) is the only alternate screen, evidently featuring a distance-to-empty display and a mileage-to-next-service readout, and it only stays up for 5 seconds before cycling back to the previous default screen. (Of course, you can also toggle between seeing the odometer reading and the trip counter.)

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Satellite Controls are Merely Average

May 05, 2011

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Yesterday I singled out the steering wheel controls in our Kia Optima for their simple, functional design. Here's a less inspired design courtesy of our Jetta TDI.

I know this because I accidentally hit the microphone button at least twice while parking last night. I never use voice command controls. Call me crazy, but it seems easier to simply reach out and push a button or turn a knob rather than push a different button, wait for it to respond and then hope it understands what you're saying. I'm annoyed just writing it.

Also notice the volume and seek buttons. They're not terrible, but they're not great either. Once you get used to them it's easy enough to feel your way around, but I find myself looking down often to remind myself what I'm about the push. Maybe it's the lack of color coding?

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: I Am the Lizard King

April 29, 2011

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I know it's not a new motif. But having not been in a Jetta for a long time, something about our TDI's hard, reptilian dash stood out. And not in a bad way. We've panned the Jetta interior as cheap and disappointing, but I didn't feel that. Maybe the color masks it, or it works with the minimalist planes and longitudes framing the vents, buttons and knobs (what would Kant drive?).

Maybe I'm used to it from our GTI. Or maybe I just don't expect much from the Jetta (even for its time, my MkII didn't stand out as particularly refined). But put in context of what you can get for the same or fewer dollars, the criticism stands. Honda has started down this road. Or maybe Ford, Chevy, Mazda and Hyundai just have a better supplier for the softer, spongy stuff.

Not a personal deal breaker, but your mileage may vary.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 VW Jetta TDI: Nice, Big Footrest

April 29, 2011

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Many new vehicles including several of our long-term test cars have itty-bitty footrests. On long trips, especially, this can lead to discomfort and foot squirming for me (size 9.5 chukka shown).

However, this is not the case with our long-term 2011 VW Jetta TDI. It's got a nice, big (but not juicy) footrest that's easy to find.

A decent-sized footrest is particularly difficult to package in manual transmission-equipped cars (although our Jetta is 6-speed DSG-equipped -- no clutch pedal).

Does this matter to you?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 2,300 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
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