Used 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

2003 Volkswagen Jetta
List price range


  • Powerful 1.8T and VR6 engines, fuel-efficient TDI powerplant, fun to drive, comfortable ride, rich interior materials, loads of standard features, solid build quality.


  • More expensive than most small sedans and wagons, tight rear-seat legroom.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The Jetta is no longer priced like an economy car; yet, its powerful engine lineup, near-ideal balance between ride and handling and premium cabin materials make it one of our top recommendations to small car buyers.

vehicle overview

Introduction: The Jetta, Volkswagen's sedan and wagon versions of the Golf, has always been one of our favorites. Like many cars conceived in Germany, the Jetta possesses an uncanny ability to keep the driver in touch with every undulation and irregularity on the road without sacrificing comfort. VW's small car can no longer be grouped with economy cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in terms of price, but it hasn't lost any of its appeal with U.S. buyers, thanks to a long list of standard features at every trim level and stylish, comfortable cabins replete with high-quality materials and the company's signature blue and red nighttime illumination.

Although the fourth-generation Jetta is now in its fifth year, Volkswagen has kept its top-seller fresh with continual upgrades -- the introduction of the marvelous 1.8T engine for 2000; the arrival of a wagon version, not to mention a sport suspension option for 2001; and last year, power upgrades for both the 1.8T and VR6 engines, as well as the return of the GLI sedan for enthusiast-type drivers who crave six-cylinder power without the premium features and price of the GLX. This year, the 1.8T becomes available to entry-level Jetta buyers in the GL sedan and wagon.

Unless cost is your primary concern in selecting a compact sedan or wagon, the Jetta merits serious consideration. Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: VW is offering GL, GLS, GLX and GLI versions of the sedan, and GL and GLS versions of the wagon. Standard features on GL models include side airbags and head-curtain airbags; four-wheel antilock disc brakes; a height-adjustable driver seat; telescoping steering wheel; power windows, mirrors and locks; cruise control; a CD player; a full-size spare tire, and for 1.8T-equipped cars only, traction control. Options include stability control (ESP), heated seats, a Monsoon sound system and a dealer-installed CD changer.

The next step up is the GLS, which adds a center armrest, a sunroof and alloy wheels. All GL options are available on the GLS, along with a leather interior. GLS 1.8T models can be fitted with a sport package (firmer suspension, 17-inch wheels), and GLS 1.8T wagons are eligible for a premium package with power seats, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers. The GLX sedan comes with 16-inch wheels and all of the above, except the sport package and CD changer -- the changer remains optional and 17-inch wheels are an a la carte extra. Finally, the sporty GLI sedan has all the GLS content, except the sunroof (now optional), and adds 17s, a sport suspension, ESP and sport seats. Options are almost identical to those for the GLS.

Powertrains and Performance: GL and GLS buyers can choose from one of three engines -- a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that makes 115 hp, a 1.9-liter turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel worthy of 90 hp or a delightful 180-hp turbocharged 1.8-liter inline four called the 1.8T. All three engines provide ample power for easy around-town acceleration and are available with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Fuel economy with the 2.0-liter is only average, but the TDI is a serious fuel miser (up to 49 mpg) and ideal for commuters. The 1.8T makes any Jetta a rousing good time, while delivering gas mileage about equal to the 2.0-liter (24/31 manual, 22/29 automatic). The compact 200-hp 2.8-liter VR6 purrs under the hood of GLX and GLI models; the former takes only a five-speed automatic, while the latter gets a six-speed manual.

Safety: The Jetta earned five stars in both of NHTSA's frontal-impact crash tests; the sedan earned four stars in side-impact testing. The IIHS rated the car "acceptable" for the offset crash test. Side airbags and head curtain airbags are standard across the line; stability control is either standard or optional, depending on the model. Interior Design and Special Features: Each Jetta's cabin is filled with high-quality materials and assembled with care. The front seats are roomy, but the rear bench, though nicely contoured, is tight on legroom. The wagon has 34 cubic feet of capacity with the rear seats up and 51.9 cubes when they're folded. Driving Impressions: Out on the road, the Jetta manages to provide both comfortable ride quality and agile handling. If the regular suspension is too soft for your taste, try the optional sport suspension.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Volkswagen Jetta.

Needed at least one review for diesel
rcplaneman16, 4/11/2014
Looked through some of the reviews and noticed not one for a diesel and everyone main complaint being MPG. Well just wanted to state that the TDI Wagon for my family has reliably gets 35-38 mpg depending how one drives on the highway and has had no major problems for 225k miles. Only things replaced was 2 alternators, original died and its replacement died while under warranty and had to clean the carbon out once so far out of the engine. everything about driving is like the gasoline that everyone has talked about.
250k Mile Review
bluebirdfan, 8/6/2010
Original owner of a great commuter car. Have had no major problems mechanically. Still get 44 mpg overall with 80/20 hwy/city. Ride and drive a re still surprisingly good despite having 250,000 miles. Bought the car to be able to haul cargo and get good gas mileage after using a 1/2 ton truck. Still on original clutch, brakes, transmission, etc. Very impressed with the car overall and would not hesitate to buy again when this one dies.
You'll Have to Pry My Hands Off of It
Lynn, 10/15/2010
I bought this car "slightly used" with about 7K miles on it. I absolutely love it. I regularly get over 40 mpg and have gotten a few tanks over 50! One was 55 mpg! It's fun to drive, quick enough and looks good. My wife would have liked a little more interior room and an automatic but I plan to keep driving it a lot longer. Only significant repair has been the timing belt at 100K, as recommended. Fun to cruise along knowing I'm getting 40-50 mpg passing jacked up 4WDs getting single digits!
TDI Rocks
Clay Brechter, 7/29/2003
I work at Bob Lewis VW. In March I bought a Jetta GLS TDI 5-speed. I love it. It gets about 47.88 miles per gallon and I drive about 80 miles per hour. The torque is 155 meaning I usually don't even have to down shift when going up hills. The car is a diesel so I won't have to get it smogged every 2 years and I smile everytime I pass a gas station. I am getting about 600 miles per tank. If you would like to contact me you can e- mail me at
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Features & Specs

35 city / 44 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
29 city / 40 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
35 city / 44 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
29 city / 40 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
90 hp @ 3750 rpm
See all Used 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    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 2003 Volkswagen Jetta
Used 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel Overview

The Used 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel is offered in the following styles: GL TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M), GLS TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 4A), GLS TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M), GL TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 4A), GLS TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 4A), GLS TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M), GL TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M), and GL TDI 4dr Wagon (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 4A).

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