2006 Volkswagen Jetta Review

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Pros & Cons

  • Powerful turbo engine, fuel-efficient TDI power plant, comfortable ride, GLI model's tight handling, rich interior materials, loads of standard safety features, excellent crash test scores, solid build quality.
  • Elevated price, bland exterior styling contradicts nameplate's youthful image.
List Price Range
$3,999 - $5,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2006 Volkswagen Jetta offers a near ideal balance between ride and handling. This, along with its premium cabin materials and long features list, makes it one of our top recommendations to small-car buyers.

Vehicle overview

The Volkswagen Jetta 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 Civic and 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, as well as stylish, comfortable cabins replete with high-quality materials and the signature VW blue and red nighttime illumination.

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 and a sport suspension option for 2001; and the return of the GLI sedan for enthusiast-type drivers in 2002. For 2004, a new and more powerful 1.9-liter TDI power plant debuted. The TDI promises to offer all the economic pluses of a diesel along with comparable power and refinement to VW's gasoline engines. An all-new VW Jetta arrived midyear in 2005, and although it's a better car in every way, it lacks the cool factor of the previous-generation Jetta. Regardless, the new Jetta is a leap forward in refinement, handling, power and value. The addition of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four for 2006 means even greater levels of performance, and the return of the GLI model brings a little excitement back to the Jetta lineup. If you're looking for a car that's small but not too small, not to mention safe, refined and well equipped, the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta deserves consideration.

2006 Volkswagen Jetta models

The Volkswagen Jetta sedan is available in Value Edition, 2.5, TDI, 2.0T and GLI trim levels. The Value Edition sedan comes with 15-inch wheels, air conditioning, a 10-speaker CD stereo with MP3 compatibility, cruise control and power windows, mirrors and locks. The 2.5 adds upgraded interior trim and alloy wheels. The TDI is equipped much like the 2.5, while the 2.0T adds a 16-inch wheels, a sunroof, 115-volt power outlet and heated seats. The sporty GLI boasts 17-inch wheels, a firmer suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, color-keyed body cladding and sport bucket seats. Options include a navigation system, leather upholstery, power seats, automatic climate control, a six-disc CD changer and, on the GLI only, 18-inch wheels.

2006 Highlights

Two new trim levels join the Jetta lineup for 2006: the upscale 2.0T and the sporty GLI. Both feature a 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and both can be equipped with VW's trick DSG direct shift gearbox. All Jettas besides the Value Edition now feature standard alloy wheels, and torso-protecting rear-seat side airbags are newly optional.

Performance & mpg

Value Edition and 2.5 models come with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 150 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. The TDI has a 1.9-liter diesel four that makes 100 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque while getting up to 42 mpg. The 2.0T and GLI feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 200 hp. A five-speed manual is standard on the Value Edition, 2.5 and TDI, while the 2.0T and GLI feature a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic is available on all models. The automatic in the TDI, 2.0T and GLI is VW's DSG direct shift gearbox. A manual transmission by definition, the DSG removes the clutch pedal, and places it under the control of computer chips and hydraulic servos. When left in auto mode, it's as smooth and hassle-free as any conventional automatic. When shifted manually, the DSG offers quick, precise gear changes.

Safety

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and full-length head curtain airbags are standard across the line. Stability control is either standard or optional, depending on the model. Seat-mounted side airbags for rear passengers are optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the VW Jetta received four stars for driver and passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars for front and rear seat protection in side impacts. The IIHS rated the VW Jetta "Good" (its highest rating) after conducting its offset frontal-impact crash test. The sedan also aced the side-impact test conducted by the IIHS.

Driving

Out on the road, the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta manages to provide both comfortable ride quality and agile handling. Though not as edgy as the previous Jetta, the current model has a rock-solid feel with a surprisingly quiet ride. Acceleration is acceptable with all of the engines, but our favorite is the smooth and potent turbo four. This engine is most enjoyable in the GLI sedan, which has a taut suspension to back it up.

Interior

The Jetta's cabin is filled with high-quality materials and assembled with care. Even the base Value Edition model has an upscale flair with comfortable seating and tasteful trim. A tall roofline gives the front seat a spacious feel. Headroom is a little tight in the rear, but there's ample legroom for adults. Trunk capacity measures 16 cubic feet.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Jetta Review
sskk,04/27/2011
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?
Do not buy 2005/6 TDI unless cam has been replaced
vwexfan,09/21/2011
I own two VW TDI Jetta's from new a 2006 and a 2010... Both have issues... I’m anal retentive on the maint and always go to dealer until warranty is over then I do it myself but always buy all my parts etc from the dealer... My 2006 has 168k km on it and the camshaft is pooched… VW Canada gave me a $400 credit towards a $4k+ repair bill… I just snickered and said can you spell the word Toyota… I love the car… like the dealership… I have owned 4 VW diesels each with over 400K on them with never an issue… I think you are seeing VW’s goal to be the #1 manufacture and lots of short cuts… After 20 plus years of good value I guess I need to find another path… DO not buy any 2005/6 TDI’s they all have this problem with the cam… it is a manufacturing issue… the hardness in the cam was never right on them… all of them will fail sub 200k… I personally know of 4 all between the 160-190k mark…
Pros have outweighed the cons
bdunn87,01/21/2015
TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)
I've had my Jetta TDI for about 4 years now, coming on 5. Bought it with 162,000km on it. For the most part, this car has been bullet proof. Drives smooth, gas mileage is great. Interior hasnt malfunctioned or fallen apart. It's significantly more comfortable than the previous model. I owned a 2000 Jetta as well and just found the seats were WAY too firm. The seats are firm on this one, but not as. It's easy to drive for 10+ hours. The only gripe I've had with this car is that for some reason, both side mirrors have somewhat corroded off. Passenger mirror went first, just kind of hung there. Then the driver side just kind of fell off out of no where. Have had to glue them back on.
Best car/worst car
Scott,11/19/2016
TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)
Bought my 2006 TDI new back in September 2005. Until last week, I couldn't give anything but high praises for the car and interior finish. I'm a light driver and just recently turned over 86K miles. Always dealer maintained and it just completed its annual checkup about a month ago. Last week the car sputtered backing out of the garage and then had to get it towed into the dealer. My poor TDI's diagnosis: "On the initial diagnostic scan we found faults for fuel running rich in the oxygen sensors and mass air flow system. the vehicle was smoking and running in limp mode. Called tech line and was advised to remove valve cover and inspect for doming or for worn cam lobes - found lobes worn and tappets domed over. the camshaft is what pushes the tappets (cam followers) to move the valves in the engine. we were also advised to check fuel filter to make sure no oil is getting into fuel system. At this point to repair the vehicle the Camshaft, Tappets & Valve Cover Gasket while we have everything apart to complete those repairs it is also recommended to replace the timing belt & perform an intake carbon cleaning. the cost for the repairs including the initial diagnostic is $3838.00 plus tax. ". Needless to say I'm stunned the engine failed at relatively low mileage. While the car has been kept in pristine shape, it's not even worth $3.8K. The value of all VW diesels has taken a serious hit due to the emission scandal even though this model is not part of the recall. While VW headquarters was happy to listen to my concerns, they are unwilling to help with anything, and the dealer was not willing to offer any special incentives on a new VW for a person in this situation. The dealer would also not accept the 2006 as a trade in as they said the best I could expect was to donate it to charity and take the tax deduction. This car has never been wrecked, always garage kept and dealer maintained. Two weeks ago I would have said this is the best car I've ever had and that VW was the best company to deal with. I've changed my mind.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 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
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta
More About This Model

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.

Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Jetta Sedan, Jetta Diesel. Available styles include 2.5 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 6A), TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M), TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM), Value Edition 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 6A), Value Edition 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.0T 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Value Edition PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 6A), Value Edition PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5 PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.5 PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.5L 5cyl 5M), GLI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), GLI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), and 2.0T 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta?

Price comparisons for Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta trim styles:

  • The Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T is priced between $4,750 and$4,750 with odometer readings between 186378 and186378 miles.
  • The Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 is priced between $3,999 and$3,999 with odometer readings between 150832 and150832 miles.
  • The Used 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is priced between $5,995 and$5,995 with odometer readings between 95000 and95000 miles.

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Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2006 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2006 Jettas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,999 and mileage as low as 95000 miles. 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 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.

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Find a used Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 5 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $8,957.

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Should I lease or buy a 2006 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.

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