Fun. It's what's been missing from the recently redesigned Volkswagen Jetta. VW gave the car new lines, a bigger cabin and more power across the board, but somewhere along the way, the Jetta got a bit too serious. So far there have been just two models, the entry-level 2.5 and the frugal TDI.
For 2006, Volkswagen has added two more: the luxurious 2.0T and the sporty GLI. The two models cost essentially the same, and use the same turbocharged engine, but they're as different as wine and whiskey.
With its standard heated seats and optional wood trim, the 2.0T is for the someday-CEO, the Trump wannabe that just made it out of the mailroom.
In the Jetta's sensible-yet-sporty world, the GLI, with its blacked-out honeycomb grille, sport seats and a sport-tuned suspension, is for the up-and-coming rock star. It's the fun one.
Juiced-Up Jetta Both models are front-wheel drive and use the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that's also used in the Passat as well as Audi's A3 and A4. The engine produces 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 4,700 rpm, which is more than enough grunt to make the chubby 3,300-pound 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI a relatively quick ride.
Buyers can choose between two transmissions, a six-speed manual or a six-speed direct-shift gearbox (DSG). We prefer the DSG, which permits fully automatic or true manual operation. In "Drive" it's a quality automatic. In manual mode, it switches gears in a heartbeat and perfectly matches revs on every downshift. Plus, there's no clutch pedal to mess with, just a couple of well-placed steering wheel paddles.
Fuel economy is good, too, 24 city/32 highway with the manual and 25 city/31 highway with the DSG, but the 2.0-liter drinks premium.
Additional features include standard stability control, traction control and 17-inch alloy wheels. A standard sport suspension is the GLI's only real mechanical difference over the 2.0T, and the cars we drove wore optional 18-inch five-spokes with summer performance tires, also exclusive to the GLI. The resulting ride is stiff and sporty but by no means uncomfortable, much like the ride in our Audi A4 long-term car.
Looking the Part In typical German fashion, big honking wings, spoilers and faux carbon fiber are all conspicuously absent. Instead, VW's wild child Jetta has subtle touches to denote its high-performance pedigree.
Outside, the GLI gets the black honeycomb grille accented with a red pinstripe, black lower body trim, blue tinted windows, dual stainless exhaust tips, bright red brake calipers, auto-leveling high-intensity xenon headlights, and GLI badges front and rear that replace the Jetta name completely. Two new colors are exclusive to the GLI, Salsa Red and Deep Black Metallic.
Things are just as sporty yet subtle in the cabin. All the wood and metallic trim from the standard model have been replaced with genuine aluminum. The front seats are eight-way adjustable sport buckets that are exclusive to the GLI. They offer exceptional support and comfort, even on long drives. The pedals are covered in aluminum trim with rubber grip strips for quick footwork, and the tilting and telescoping F1-style flat-bottom steering wheel is thickly padded.
Safety concerns are addressed with standard dual front, front-side, front-side curtain and rear-side curtain airbags. Rear-passenger thorax airbags, which come out of the door, are optional.
Behind the Wheel This is not a horsepower-addled rally car like the Subaru WRX or Mitsubishi Evolution. It's fast, just not crazy-fast. VW claims the car will sprint to 60 mph in 7 seconds when equipped with the DSG transmission. That's the same time recorded by the last A3 we tested, which used the same drivetrain, and it's nearly two and a half seconds quicker than the last Jetta 2.5 we took to the track.
Instead of stoplight-to-stoplight racing, the GLI is built for high-speed cruising and occasional canyon carving. The DSG-equipped GLI we drove positively shone on the open road. The turbo four offers plenty of bottom-end torque to get things rolling, but it really shines from 4,000-6,000 rpm, where the motor sings and the turbo whines. Tip the accelerator in the engine's sweet spot and the car leaps forward.
At triple-digit speeds on an empty stretch of New Mexico highway, the GLI's interior remained quiet and its engine purred along like a happy kitten. High-speed stability was excellent.
When the road does turn, the electromechanical steering is tight and sporty, offering excellent feedback and feel. And the suspension, which has thicker antiroll bars, gives the car a hunkered-down planted feeling in the corners. Push too hard and radical understeer rears its ugly head, but the car is easy to drive quickly and much more fun than we thought it would be.
Conclusion At $23,790, the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI's base price is only a grand less than the starting price of the Audi A3, which shares the Jetta's platform. Order the option Package 1 for $1,460, which adds a sunroof and satellite radio, and the GLI's value remains high.
But cough up $3,200 for the option Package 2, which includes the sunroof, the satellite radio, dual-zone climate control and heated leather seats, and $1,800 for the DVD navigation system, and suddenly the affordable GLI costs about the same as an equally equipped Acura TSX.
Additional options on the GLI include the DSG transmission ($875), the 18-inch wheels ($750) and the rear thorax airbags ($350). Order it all and a loaded-to-the-gills GLI comes in over $31 thou.
As much as we like to think of ourselves as rock stars, and as much as we like driving the GLI, that sounds like a lot for the Jetta.
Is the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 Jetta featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 Jetta 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 Jetta.
Review I read many of the reviews on here, and I thought that some were spot on , yet others were just people that were angry or biased, yet they did not seem to understand the car well. I am not saying that every problem experienced by others were completely false. This car does have some common issues, but all cars do. I figured that I would give my own thoughts in an objective manner. I bought a used neglected 2006 jetta 2.5, and the car turned out to be a great buy. The car had 68,000 thousands miles on it, and it had a few dents big and large scratches; so I was able to get it at a huge discount that was way below blue book value, because no one else wanted her. I found out the car was losing oil, and it had a nasty rear main seal leak. I honestly thought that all hope was last, because I was not going to spend thousands of dollars to get it fixed. As a last hope, I tried STP oil stop leak, and it actually worked. The car has 100,000 miles on it now, and it still runs great. I cannot believe how well this car runs after the abuse from previous owners. I recommend that you find a good mechanic that knows Volkswagens, and I would avoid the dealer at all costs. You just have to shop around. I also recommend to not skimp on scheduled maintenance. German cars break down too. I know a lot of people that will buy VW, because they think German cars are more reliable, then they neglect the car and have problems. Make sure that you understand this car, and the type of oil that it uses before you buy it. If you are the kind of person that plans on neglecting this car, then do not buy it. If you take care of this car, then it will take care of you by offering great fuel economy. It is not special and it still needs maintenance like all others cars. My other vehicle was a range rover, and I bought this car as my gas efficient beater. I was worried that the jetta would be too small on the inside, but it is quite roomy. The car drives very quite and smooth at high speeds. You can comfortably drive long distances in this car and not even feel uncomfortable. After all, it was built for the autobahn. The main advantage of this car, is that it balances performance with fuel quality. I am not saying that it is a sport sedan, but it is not dull and lifeless like the ford focus or some of the other competitors. The leather seats and the interior are also very nice for the price of the car. The car also handled well in the snow, and I am the kind of person that is afraid to drive in the winter without all wheel drive. The main negative with this car is the poor quality paint. The paint scratches very easily, and even when it is washed gently. I am honestly afraid to wash the car because of this issue. This complaint is seen in other reviews as well. Other euro cars that I owned did not scratch as easily. The secondary issue with this car is with the lights burning out earlier than expected. Sometimes, I think this is related to road conditions, but other times I think this has to do with the design of the bulb holder. It seems that it holds the one bulb in tight, but it allows the other one to jiggle a little bit. My tertiary compliant is with the looks of the car. I am not saying that it looks bad, it is just somewhat plain and boring. The jetta drives nice and has decent performance, so it should have some nice looks to boot. It seems that the competition is aware of this, yet VW seems completely aloof. Come on VW, make make the jetta look at little meaner and cooler. After all, sex sells right?
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What options are available on the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta?
Available Volkswagen Jetta 2006 Submodel Types: Sedan, 2.0T GLI, Diesel, Wagon, 2.0T GLI SEL PZEV, GLI SE PZEV, 2.0T GLI SEL, 2.0T GLI SE PZEV
Available Trims: SE PZEV, 1.4T S, S, 1.4T SE, 2.0T GLI, 1.8T SEL, SE, 2.5, SEL PZEV, GLS, Wolfsburg Edition, S w/Technology, 1.8T Sport PZEV, GL, SEL, 1.4T S w/Technology, SE PZEV w/Connectivity, TDI S, TDI SE w/Connectivity, GLS 1.8T, SE PZEV w/Connectivity, Navigation, TDI, 1.8T SEL Premium, S PZEV, Limited Edition PZEV, Wolfsburg Edition PZEV, TDI SEL, Value Edition, 1.8T SEL PZEV, 1.8T Sport, 2.5 PZEV, GLI, Sport, Base, GLS TDI, Value Edition , 2.0T, 2.0T GLI SEL PZEV, GLI SE PZEV, SE w/Connectivity, SportWagen S PZEV, 1.4T SE w/Connectivity, GL TDI, GLS PZEV, GLX VR6, SE w/Connectivity, Navigation, SportWagen SE, 2.0T GLI SEL, GLI 1.8T, Limited Edition, SEL Premium PZEV, SportWagen S, SportWagen SE PZEV, Value Edition PZEV, 2.0T GLI SE PZEV, Base PZEV, GL (1999.5), GL PZEV, GLI VR6, GLS TDi, GLS VR6
Exterior Colors: Pure White, Platinum Gray Metallic, Black Uni, Black, Reflex Silver Metallic, White Silver Metallic, Silk Blue Metallic, Tornado Red, Candy White, Tempest Blue Metallic, Moonrock Silver Metallic, Cardinal Red Metallic, Toffee Brown Metallic, Platinum Gray, Deep Black Pearl, Blue Graphite Metallic, Campanella White, Reflex Silver, Salsa Red, Dark Bronze Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Cool White, Shadow Blue, Wheat Beige, Alaska Green Metallic, Blue Graphite, Galactic Blue Metallic, Silver Arrow, Silver Arrow Metallic, Atlantic Blue, Baltic Green Pearl, Blue Lagoon Metallic, Galactic Blue, Spice Red, Wheat Beige Metallic, Alaska Green, Arctic Blue Silver, Bright Green Pearl, Galactic Blue Pearl, Laser Blue Metallic, Shadow Blue Metallic, Speed Blue
Interior Colors: Titan Black leatherette, Titan Black cloth, Titan Black/Palladium Gray cloth, Cornsilk Beige leatherette, Black/Ceramique leatherette, Gray, Anthracite leatherette, Black, Latte Macchiato cloth, Art Gray leatherette, Pure Beige leatherette, Ceramique (Gray) cloth, Anthracite velour, Titan Black velour, Beige, Anthracite leather, Gray leather, Art Gray velour, Titan Black/Carbon leatherette, Anthracite cloth, Art Gray cloth, Beige/Black leatherette, Anthracite, Black cloth, Cornsilk leatherette, Pure Beige, Black/Gray, Gray leatherette, Pure Beige leather
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Post-collision safety system, Aux Audio Inputs, Trip Computer, Bluetooth, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Heated seats, Back-up camera, USB Inputs, Sunroof/Moonroof, Power Driver Seat, Keyless Entry/Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Alarm, Navigation, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Parking sensors, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system, Upgraded Headlights, Leather Seats