2012 Volkswagen Jetta Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen Jetta Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automated Manual
  • Horse Power 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 30/42 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

  • The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta is roomy and more affordable than ever. But there's also not a whole lot to help this sedan stand out against other more dynamic competitors.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious interior and trunk; well-equipped; smart electronics interface; fuel-efficient diesel model.

  • Cons

    Lackluster interior materials; sluggish throttle with automatic; numb steering; wheezy base engine.

  • What's New for 2012

    Fully redesigned last model year, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta features only minor changes. The SEL and TDI trim levels now offer a Fender audio system, while last year's Sport package for the SEL has been discontinued.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (7 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


So far, so good.

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

I just acquired a 2012 Jetta TDI Premium. We have a 2013 Jetta Sportwagen with all of the options and have put about 9000 trouble free miles on it, so I bought the 2012 sedan as a certified used VW. It has around 50k miles on it and I drive 74 miles round trip everyday. So far the car has been really nice, the tires are terrible and I will be changing these out in a month or two, but I am still getting around 53.8 mpg when I just kind of cruise. I averaged 44.8 mpg on the first tank with faster driving. I like the DSG it feels a little clunky if you are used to traditional manuals, especially when it downshifts when you are slowing down, but it is pretty smooth while upshifting.




After 45000 miles and 2

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

I've had this car just over two years and other than the cost of maintenance being high im very happy with this car, this car has been completely trouble free, i get 40 to 42 miles per Gal driving 68 to 72 and about 38 at 75 to 80, i pull my motor cycle trailor from Ohio to Az the past two years with a total trailor weight of about 2000 pounds and i get about 23 to 25 miles to the Gal at 70 miles per Hr, could be a little bigger in the back seat area but other than that i love this little car, i think it thinks its a Diesel truck



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

It's a good car, but

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

My feelings about the Jetta TDI/Premium are mixed. I love the styling, the fuel economy is unbeatable for an ICE, and the low end torque makes it zippy and fun. But VW had to go and kill a lot of the love by leaving the DSG unrefined, not polishing out creaks and rattles, and cheaping out in areas like the MFD and the touch screen software. The car feels like it was well designed in Germany, then dressed down by a bureaucrat on computer and exported to America. That being said, the styling, fuel economy, and options are still far better than the Civic and the Elantra. Is it worth the extra $3000 on the sticker? Maybe. I'd say it's more of a solid buy as a used or preowned car.



6 of 8 people found this review helpful

Happy vw convert

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

Purchased my TDI Jetta 4 door with premium after test driving everything else out there. That includes BMW 328i. This car's ride is ALMOST as good as the BMW...for 15-20k less...not to mention the cost to insure, maintenance and fueling up with premium and getting significantly less mpg with the BMW. 5 months old and just broke 6,000 miles. Averaged 44.3 mpg from bay area to San Diego...less than one tank of diesel. NO DIESEL SMELL detected. Handles great; plenty of power-had trouble keeping it under 80 on I-5.



13 of 13 people found this review helpful

An excellent car, but do

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

This was the most reasonably priced car in this kind of fuel mileage range that did not feel like a toy. True the interior is not flashy, and I am a bit heavy for the standard seat bolsters, and it is not an independent rear suspension, but this little car is a kick to drive. I have 12,000 miles on and I have no complaints. I just got my first 50MPG trip this last weekend. In mixed driving I get 38 on the low side and can always depend on 44 to 45 MPG highway driving with cruise control on 65 or 70 from Fresno to Los Angeles and back. The DSG transmission does take a while to get used to but its a great car. Lots of torque and a huge backseat.



14 of 19 people found this review helpful

Fun and efficient diesel, questionable

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 4dr Sedan w/Premium (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)

I have just finished putting a 1000k miles on my 2012 Jetta TDI. I have averaged 39MPG in moderate city driving. I highly recommend the diesel to anyone who is looking for added driving fun, longevity, and a higher resale value. The leather steering wheel, heated seats, and touchscreen audio system make this car seem luxurious. Despite negative reviews on the cars interior, I suspect it will please almost everyone who experiences it. Unfortunately, within the first week of ownership, I had 2 different problems with exterior body work. 1. The gas door would not shut. 2. The trunk squeaks loudly when you open or close it. The dealership noted both problems would be fixed under warranty.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 30
  • cty
/
  • 42
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Review

What's New for 2012

Fully redesigned last model year, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta features only minor changes. The SEL and TDI trim levels now offer a Fender audio system, while last year's Sport package for the SEL has been discontinued.

Introduction

The Volkswagen Jetta once presented a good middle ground between Japanese compact sedans and entry-level German luxury. It offered a sturdy chassis, tasteful interior materials and enough sport to make the package lively around town. Most buyers felt the premium quality was worth the extra price of admission. But Volkswagen thought the premium price discouraged an even greater amount of shoppers. So last year it made its redesigned Jetta a centerpiece of an aggressive new pricing strategy.

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta carries on the work of its redesigned predecessor largely unchanged. No longer simply a Golf with a traditional trunk, the Jetta offers a longer wheelbase and more rear seat room than VW's compact hatchback. And indeed, the Jetta is very roomy for its class, particularly in the backseat. Standard features are generous and the top trim level and diesel variants get the premium Fender audio system with a touchscreen interface.

Mostly, though, there's price. The Jetta is now fully competitive with other small sedans in terms of price and feature content, and on top of that you still get the VW image. But the new sedan's obvious cost-cutting comes at the expense of details that used to give the Jetta an edge. For example, soft-touch interior materials have been replaced with a harder, more industrial-grade finish on all but the priciest SEL Premium model. There are no more rear-seat air vents and the front armrest is no longer adjustable. Rear drum brakes supplant rear discs on lower trims, and the rear suspension now features a less sophisticated design.

How much this matters depends on your perspective. Although Volkswagen might have forsaken its core buyers, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta is still a solid choice for a small or midsize sedan. Its spacious interior, standard features, comfortable ride and optional fuel-efficient diesel engine keep it competitive with other top choices like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3 and Suzuki Kizashi. We certainly suggest taking some test-drives to find out whether this latest VW Jetta is right for you.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta is a midsize sedan available in Base, S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium and TDI trim levels. The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is reviewed separately, as is the performance-oriented GLI, which is a Jetta fitted with the GTI's sporty hardware.

The Jetta Base is a stripped-down model that comes with 15-inch steel wheels, power locks and windows, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The S adds keyless entry, air-conditioning, power/heated mirrors and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Opting for an S model with a sunroof also gains a front center console and cruise control.

The Jetta SE gets a more powerful engine, 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, a front center armrest and storage compartment, a rear-seat center armrest, a trunk pass-through and premium vinyl upholstery. The SE Convenience package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated windshield washer nozzles, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and an iPod interface. A sunroof can be added to the Convenience package and with it comes a premium six-speaker sound system with a touchscreen interface, SD memory card reader and a six-CD changer.

The SEL includes all the SE's optional equipment (other than the sunroof, which is a stand-alone option), plus 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, foglamps, chrome exterior trim, keyless ignition/entry, manual front seat lumbar adjustment, a trip computer and a navigation system. Stepping up to the SEL Premium adds black-accented 17-inch wheels, higher-quality dashboard materials and two-tone sport seats.

The Jetta TDI with its turbodiesel engine is equipped similarly to an SE with the Convenience and Sunroof packages. It gets the SEL's rear disc brakes and trip computer as well. When equipped with the optional navigation system, the TDI also gets foglamps, exterior chrome trim, keyless ignition/entry, manual front seat lumbar adjustment and the touchscreen navigation/stereo interface.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Base and S come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 115 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 25 combined with the automatic and 24/34/28 with the manual. These numbers go up slightly if you use premium gasoline.

The Jetta SE, SEL and SEL Premium get a 2.5-liter inline-5 that produces 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. It gets the same transmission choices as the 2.0-liter inline-4. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is actually quite similar, with 24/31/27 for the automatic and 23/33/26 for the manual. Jetta SE and SEL models sold in California-emissions states can also earn super-clean PZEV emissions certification. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Jetta SEL went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds -- a good time for a midsize sedan with this type of fuel economy.

The Jetta TDI features a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel inline-4 that produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and Volkswagen's six-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a Jetta TDI hustled from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds. With either transmission, estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 30/42/34.

Safety

The 2012 VW Jetta comes standard with traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. All Jettas have antilock brakes with brake assist; however, the S and SE have rear drums. The SEL trims and the TDI get rear discs. In Edmunds brake testing of an SEL with summer tires, the Jetta came to a stop from 60 mph in a better-than-average 117 feet. The TDI with all-season tires closed the same distance in a more disappointing 135 feet.

In government crash tests, the Jetta earned an overall score of four stars (out of a possible five). Within that rating, it earned four stars for overall front crash protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Jetta its best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

When the new Jetta bowed last year, its interior disappointed us. Build quality was still tight, but the materials that once gave the Jetta its premium feel had been replaced by cheap, hard surfaces. For 2012, the SEL Premium trim gets some of those nicer materials back, but the Jetta used to stand out because even the lowliest trim level felt more special than the average compact sedan. Regardless of trim, some of the small features that used to set the Jetta apart are still MIA, including a height- and length-adjustable center armrest, rear-seat air vents and infinitely adjustable front backrests. The Jetta Sportwagen, still based on the Golf, has these features and is a nicer car for them.

That said, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta is spacious enough for a full-size adult to sit comfortably in back with room to spare. Its 15.5-cubic-foot trunk is actually bigger than the Honda Accord's, a car that competes in a larger class. And the interior, while downgraded, still offers a clean and unfussy design. We particularly like the available touchscreen stereo interface and its redundant dial knob that's ideal for controlling an iPod. The associated navigation system, however, is a bit of a letdown due to the small screen and limited amount of displayed information.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta remains a very German car in its solid, substantial feel. Though the steering has a small dead spot on-center and a somewhat artificial feel, it's quick and precise enough when guiding the Jetta through corners. The car's ride quality is also quite agreeable and the suspension easily soaks up most road irregularities.

The base 2.0-liter engine is wheezy and gets no better fuel economy than the 2.5; we'd strongly recommend avoiding this one. While not the smoothest or richest-sounding engine in its class, the 2.5-liter five-cylinder is definitely the better choice. We've noticed, however, an annoying, delayed throttle response when this engine is paired with the six-speed automatic.

Though it's notably more expensive than the 2.5-equipped SE and SEL, the TDI is a keen choice thanks to its meaty low-end torque and frugal fuel economy. The manual would again be a preferred choice, though the DSG, with its automated and manual modes, works well as a best-of-both-worlds choice.

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