1996 Volkswagen Jetta Review

Used Jetta for sale
List Price Estimate:$321 - $826
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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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.13 out of 5 stars
The best I've had
GLS 4dr Sedan
I bought this car used with 98,000 miles on it. I had the timing belt replaced when I bought it. It was an oil leaker when I got it but had the valve cover gasket and new oil filler cap put on it. NO oil leaks or burning. I've owned Toyota and Nissan and Honda, but I love this car. It runs great and handles well. The mileage I'm not too sure of, but it passes smog with flying colors, and I live in california. The Germans built a car you can't lock your keys in. You must lock it from the outside with the key. Brilliant!! If you can find a good price on a 1996 jetta, buy it.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Love it
GLX VR6 4dr Sedan
I bought my used Jetta about 4 years ago and I still love it. I don't think I can go back to a 4cyl ever again! This car is fast and fun to drive. Problems: side moldings (one fell off, the other one about to). Paint looks awful (but I live in So Cal desert), exterior molding on front windshield disintegrated. Blew a coil last year and now the heater core is kaput. Very expensive to fix. Cupholder is a joke. And my heavy foot doesn't help the already low MPG. Mostly it's just normal problems after 11 years. Plus I drive it hard. But depite this, I am deeply attached to her - I had a Honda before and nothing compares to the driving experience of the Jetta.
3 out of 5 stars
GLS 4dr Sedan
I completely agree with one other posting here. This car has been more trouble than ANY other I can think of. I have had every major electrical problem possible and everytime I fix one, another occurs. The entire ignition system has been replace, TWICE. My last comment is that VW customer service stinks. Sure, the people are nice to talk to but they won't help you out financially at all. Read those warranties carefully everybody!
4.75 out of 5 stars
Everyone should buy a Jetta
I LOVE MY JEttA,05/29/2002
GLX VR6 4dr Sedan
I bought my 1996 Volkswagen Jetta GLX/VR6 in February 2001. It was 5 years old with 46,000 miles. I have had it for one year and I have had no problems with it. There are 60,000 miles on it and I plan to drive another 60,000.


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

More about the 1996 Volkswagen Jetta

Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Jetta Sedan, Jetta Diesel. Available styles include City 4dr Sedan, GL 4dr Sedan, Trek Limited Edition 4dr Sedan, TDi 4dr Sedan, Wolfsburg 4dr Sedan, GLX VR6 4dr Sedan, and GLS 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 115 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1996 Volkswagen Jettas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1996 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1996 Volkswagen Jetta.

Can't find a used 1996 Volkswagen Jettas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 5 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $9,662.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 8 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $23,535.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $14,575.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 5 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $14,396.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 Volkswagen Jetta?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Jetta lease specials