2013 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Review | Edmunds.com

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

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Volkswagen Jetta Features and Specs

Features & Specs

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

Review of the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta

  • The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta is roomy and quite efficient, especially when equipped with the diesel engine. But other small sedans will likely be more enjoyable to own overall.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious interior and trunk; smooth ride quality; fuel-efficient diesel TDI model.

  • Cons

    Lackluster interior materials; high price of TDI; sluggish throttle with automatic; weak base engine.

  • What's New for 2013

    For 2013, upper-level trims get a few new features and all but the base model get four-wheel disc brakes. An all-new hybrid model also joins the lineup later in the model year.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (24 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Lemon car

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

At 12,000 miles, the high pressure fuel pump blew up, destroying the whole fuel system. ($7500) That was bad enough for a one year old car, but then it did it again at 23,000 miles. Search the internet for articles about this problem, but VW has covered it up well. The dealer said they fix about 2 per week. The car suddenly lost power going 70 mph on I-5, then died. Just barely made it to the shoulder. Very scary. I hoped the new fuel pump they installed would be a better design, but obviously it was not, since the car blew up again 6 months later- same thing- high pressure fuel pump. We sold the car, and lost $10K. My friends Jetta did the same thing. Big rip off by VW.

So far, so good.

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

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

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Way over engineered

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

I don’t understand the great reviews considering so many characteristic problems… you’ll see. Should the engine stall while in motion the key must cycle fully off to restart the auto. This LOCKS the steering while in motion. With clutch depressed the engine wont rev above 2500 rpms. I have to pop the clutch several times when on a hill or stall engine. The traction control system engaged breaks on left side of car (I never touched the breaks) sending the car sideways. Lights come on when I don’t want; they go off when I don’t. Doors lock, unlock automatic.

My first vw and it's

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

I just bought my '12 Jetta TDI recently, so it's a bit too soon to comment on reliability although, I expect it to be reliable. I bought my car as a certified used car with only 26,000 miles on it. The first second I saw it, I fell in love with it. It is red and has a nice 2 tone interior. The seats are the leathertte seats. The dash design is very nice, not offensive or overly styled, just right. I have the navigation system and the Fender sound system, which I highly recommend. The Fender sound system is amazing! The car is pretty much loaded. I highly recommend this car. Don't believe the bad things some of the car magazines say about this car, this car is solid and awesome!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

It's a good car, but

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

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.

Gas Mileage


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

Full 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Review

What's New for 2013

For 2013, upper-level trims get a few new features and all but the base model get four-wheel disc brakes. An all-new hybrid model also joins the lineup later in the model year.


We're over it. We've accepted it. We knew Volkswagen set its sights on massive North American sales success, and that the sixth-generation Jetta, released two years ago, would form the centerpiece of the automaker's strategy. At the time, we lamented that the new, bigger, more affordable Jetta also felt cheaper, and its cost-cutting measures were obvious inside, outside and underneath. The 2013 VW Jetta continues in this direction, and while it hasn't grown any more luxurious or premium, it does remain a solid choice in its class.

No longer simply a Golf with a traditional trunk, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta offers a longer wheelbase and more rear-seat room than VW's compact hatchback. In fact, the Jetta's rear seat is one of the most spacious in the class, with 2 inches more legroom than the Chevrolet Cruze or Honda Civic, and 5 inches more than the Ford Focus. The Jetta's space makes it that rare compact sedan that no longer causes embarrassment when you unexpectedly need to shuttle upper-level career-makers to an important lunch.

Granted, the hard-touch plastic surfaces inside won't impress much (unless you spring for the cushier SEL trim level). In the price-point frenzy, the Jetta has lost some of the details that used to give it an edge, like adjustable armrests, rear-seat air vents and a sophisticated rear suspension. That said, most trim levels offer a pretty generous complement of standard features, while the top trims and diesel variants benefit from the premium Fender sound system with a touchscreen interface. We still like the diesel-fueled Jetta, too, and its impressive highway fuel economy.

How much all of the cost-cutting matters to you depends on your perspective. Volkswagen might have forsaken its traditional enthusiasts, yet the 2013 VW Jetta is still a solid choice as small sedans go. Its spacious interior, standard features, comfortable ride and optional fuel-efficient diesel fit well with the needs of most buyers. At the same time, though, the Ford Focus and Mazda 3 are more enjoyable to drive, the Dodge Dart is much more customizable and the Hyundai Elantra and Nissan Sentra are nearly as fuel-efficient with their base engines as the Jetta TDI, while costing thousands less.

If you're looking for something "extra" from your small sedan, the Volkswagen Jetta is a solid choice but no longer your best choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta is available in Base, S, SE, SEL and TDI trim levels. The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is reviewed separately, as are the performance-oriented GLI and the new Jetta Hybrid.

The base Jetta comes with 15-inch steel wheels, power windows, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker stereo system with CD player and auxiliary jack. The Jetta S adds air-conditioning, power/heated side mirrors, power door locks and keyless entry, while opting for an S model with a sunroof also nets cruise control and a front center console.

The Jetta SE gets a more powerful engine, 16-inch steel wheels, two-way power front seats (both with manual lumbar adjustment), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and brake handle, a rear-seat center armrest, a trunk pass-through and premium vinyl upholstery.

The SE Convenience package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, 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 an upgraded sound system with a touchscreen interface and SD memory-card reader.

The SEL includes all the SE's optional equipment, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, keyless ignition/entry, a six-way power driver seat and a trip computer. The SEL also is available with touchscreen navigation that bundles an eight-speaker Fender premium sound system with a subwoofer.

The Jetta TDI with its turbodiesel engine is equipped similarly to an SE with the Convenience package. Adding the Premium package gets a sunroof and Fender sound system with touchscreen interface. When equipped with the optional navigation system, the TDI also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-way power driver seat and keyless ignition/entry.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta S comes 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 increase slightly if you use premium gasoline.

The Jetta SE and SEL get a 2.5-liter inline-5 that produces 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. The bigger engine's EPA-estimated fuel economy is actually quite similar to the 2.0-liter, rated at 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 a reasonably quick 8.4 seconds.

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 a 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.


The 2013 VW Jetta comes standard with traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. All Jettas have front and rear antilock disc brakes with brake assist except for the Base model, which has rear drums. 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

The 2013 Jetta has one of the more ho-hum interiors in the small sedan class. Build quality is still tight, but the hard plastic surfaces and overall design do little to inspire. But what the Jetta loses in finer details, it makes up for in the expanse of its cabin and a rear-seat area large enough for full-size adults to sit comfortably. The 15.5-cubic-foot trunk also is one of the roomiest you'll find in this class.

We also like the available touchscreen stereo interface and its redundant dial knob, which is ideal for controlling a portable music player. The associated navigation system, however, is a bit of a letdown due to the small screen and limited amount of display information.

Driving Impressions

Although now built for mainstream success in America, the Volkswagen Jetta still remains decidedly German with its solid and substantial feel. The ride quality is quite good, as the suspension easily soaks up most road irregularities. The Jetta's handling is hardly memorable, though, and many other small sedans feel lighter and more maneuverable at the helm.

The base 2.0-liter engine should be avoided; it's underpowered and offers no better fuel economy than the 2.5. The bigger engine isn't the smoothest nor richest-sounding in its class, but it's still the better choice. One caveat: We've noticed an annoying, delayed throttle response when this engine is paired with the six-speed automatic.

Though notably more expensive than the 2.5-equipped SE and SEL, the TDI diesel is the commuter's choice thanks to meaty low-end torque and frugal fuel economy. We'd choose the manual transmission, as the DSG automated manual also suffers from delayed throttle response when in its normal mode.

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