Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

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1996 Volkswagen Jetta
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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

Volkswagen's sedan version of the Golf, the Jetta, has always been one of our favorite sedans. Like most cars conceived in Germany, the Jetta has an uncanny ability to keep the driver in touch with every undulation and irregularity in the road without sacrificing comfort. It has a cavernous interior, logically laid-out controls and displays, and zippy performance.

GL, GLS, Trek, and Wolfsburg Edition Jettas offer enough oomph to keep most drivers satisfied, when equipped with a five-speed transmission. The optional automatic saps what little power the Jetta has to offer, and we don't recommend it. Most drivers who want a Jetta will be of the persuasion that eschews the autobox in favor of rowing their own gears anyway because, let's face it, why buy a VW if you don't enjoy driving?

Driving enjoyment is what the top-of-the-line GLX is all about. Sporting a powerful and compact V6 engine, thick alloy wheels, and newly lowered sport suspension, the GLX is a poor man's BMW 325i. If you have a need for speed, this is the Jetta to buy.

This year, Jettas get a sharp new grille, smoother automatic transmission, and a new Bose stereo system is available. Three new colors are available for 1996. A Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) arrived in showrooms mid-year. Volkswagen claims this car will change the way you think of diesels, touting how quick, quiet and clean it is. We don't think Americans will be interested.

Regular Jettas are a blast once they're moving. Sharp steering response, a taut chassis, and a superb driving position combine to make you forget about the wimpy 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower engine under the hood.

Reliability has been a problem with Volkswagens in the past. However, a new 10 year/100,000 mile warranty backs up the powertrain, and free roadside assistance is provided for the first two years of ownership.

Not that you couldn't afford to fix it once in a while. The uplevel GLS, loaded with antilock brakes, sunroof, CD changer, and a fun-robbing automatic transmission, doesn't crack the $20,000 barrier. Prices like these make the Jetta very competitive with the Chrysler Cirrus, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord. The GLX undercuts premium German sedans by thousands of dollars, without sacrificing performance, features or that Teutonic feel. Sign us up.

1996 Highlights

A new three-bar grille is added up front. GLX models get a firmer front suspension and new "Bugatti" style wheels. New colors sum up the changes.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Volkswagen Jetta.

Goodbye VW
Dukes, 8/6/2004
Bought this car back in 2000 with 56K kms based on "good reviews" from CR and thinking this car would retain value.... Paid 16K (can), now worth 6K. Mostly mechanical problems such as bearings (x2), water pump (x2), crappy exhaust & suspension, AC repairs (x3). (~5K of repairs) Not at all the reliable vehicle it was made out to be. I will never again buy VW.
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Features & Specs

MPG
34 city / 44 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Diesel
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
See all Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Marginal

More about the 1996 Volkswagen Jetta
Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Overview

The Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel is offered in the following styles: , and TDi 4dr Sedan.

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