Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

1997 Volkswagen Jetta
List price range
1997 Volkswagen Jetta


  • Excellent road manners, roomy interior, fun-to-drive, heater will roast your face


  • Some controls and symbols difficult to decipher, staid styling, underpowered four-cylinder engine

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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 new-for-1997 JAZZ and GT 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, but prepare to endure a sore backside. The granite-like side bolsters of the seat cushion are excruciatingly uncomfortable.

This year, Jettas equipped with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine run quieter thanks to a redesigned cylinder head. The new GT model gives buyers the look of the GLX without the cost of the go-fast powertrain, providing drivers with a sporty yet economical sedan with alloy wheels, decklid spoiler, and optional ABS. Trek models return midyear with alloy wheels and GT styling cues, but no optional ABS. Mid-year, the JAZZ was introduced with alloy wheels, standard six-disc CD changer, and upgraded trim. A Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) model has been expected in showrooms for more than a year, but quality glitches have kept it off the market. VW says the car will arrive imminently and 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. Current Jettas come with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty that 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 sporty midlevel GT, loaded with anti-lock brakes, power 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 Dodge Stratus, Ford Contour, and Honda Accord. The GLX undercuts premium German sedans by thousands of dollars, without sacrificing performance, features or that Teutonic feel. Sign us up.

1997 Highlights

Wolfsburg models are gone, and the Jetta GT arrives sporting the look of the GLX without the VR6 engine. Trek gets alloy wheels. GL, GLS, Trek and GT run more quietly, thanks to a new cylinder head design.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Volkswagen Jetta.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great automtive investment
This used car has been fantastic. It gets near 50 mpg and the ride is great. Sound build and rattle free even at this mileage. Would definitely recommend a used VW TDI to anyone who was considering a diesel. These late 90's TDI's are very reliable, even moreso then the 99.5's and priced very reasonably.
TDI going strong
I've gto a '97 TDI that I've piled on 175K miles. I've had a few electrical problems and the alternator was replaced with a rebuilt. But this car gets 50 MPG and has great pickup. The heater is so hot it will burn your face and the a/c will freeze you out. I hope to keep running it for a couple hundered thousand more.
Great Little Car
This car has served my faithfully and reliably in the entire time only once I was stranded due to a dead battery. Have not even changed a light bulb yet. Got about 45 mpg highway and about 40 city.
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Features & Specs

33 city / 44 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
See all Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel features & specs


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 1997 Volkswagen Jetta
Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Overview

The Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel is offered in the following styles: TDi 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel?

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Which used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesels are available in my area?

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Simply research the type of used car you're interested in and then select a prew-owned vehicle from our massive database to find cheap used cars for sale near you. Once you have identified a used or CPO vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel.

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Can't find a used 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Jetta Diesel you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 8 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $13,812.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 3 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $8,399.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 2 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $8,726.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $24,617.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 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
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