From one generation to the next, the Volkswagen Jetta has seen a significant drop in sales — nearly 40,000 units, to be approximate. Despite being bigger, safer and more powerful, the fifth-generation car just hasn't resonated with buyers like its predecessor, which had helped fuel VW's resurgence in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The obvious culprit: styling. According to VW's head designer, Walter de'Silva, the brand moved away from the "timeless, unique and simple" design heritage that had helped make its cars successful.
The all-new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta attempts to recapture what has been lost for a generation with styling that is indeed simpler, more timeless and in line with VW's past. Regardless of generation, styling certainly hasn't been the main reason to purchase a Jetta, however. A high-quality interior, a refined driving experience and attention to detail have made the Jetta seem more special than other compact and midsize sedans. There has been such a premium feel to the Jetta that Edmunds.com data shows that a potential buyer has been just as likely to consider it alongside a BMW 3 Series or a Honda Accord. Unfortunately, the new 2011 Jetta has lost much of this premium feel, and the explanation seems to be obvious cost-cutting meant to make the car more competitive with Japanese-brand competitors.
For the first time in the Jetta's 30-year history, the 2011 model is not actually the sedan version of the VW Golf (oddly the Jetta Sportwagen continues to be related, however). Although it shares some platform similarities, the Jetta is now a unique vehicle — for better and for worse. Compared to the Golf, the new Jetta has a longer wheelbase (for better rear legroom), different steering (hydraulic versus electric), a torsion-beam rear suspension (versus four-wheel independent), a less powerful base engine and standard rear drum brakes. It also has an interior with notably cheaper materials and lacks some of those little details the Jetta used to have (and the Golf still does).
The Jetta's price is lower than before, the size is bigger than before and indeed the 2011 car gives you more stuff for your buck than a similarly priced Honda Civic. But we would argue that Jetta buyers were OK with spending a bit more to get a car that clearly felt like a bit more. While this new 2011 Jetta might look more like the Volkswagens we expect, it's lost some of those vital characteristics that truly made it one.
The base 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S comes standard with a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an engine that is making its reappearance after taking a generation off. We didn't miss it while it was gone, and although this new Jetta is actually lighter than the previous two generations, we don't suspect the base engine's acceleration potential will be anything other than glacial.
Instead, our money would go with the 2.5-liter five-cylinder, the choice for upper trim levels that has been carried over from last year. Producing 170 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque, this engine offers robust power for a compact car, although the noises it makes while accelerating aren't exactly endearing. With 170 fewer pounds to lug about for 2011, the new Jetta should be capable of acceleration that's quicker (the previous car's 0-60 time was 8.6 seconds, a reasonable effort). Its fuel economy has improved as well, as a 2.5 model with an automatic transmission achieves an estimated EPA rating of 24 city/31 highway mpg and 27 mpg combined, which is 2 mpg combined better than before and actually 1 mpg better than the 2.0-liter.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional on all models. The auto is slow to downshift, but its Sport mode improves response. Unfortunately this transmission also responds oddly to the throttle. From a stop, the car jumps forward as soon as you lean on the accelerator, as if to impress you with the engine's power, but then the car seems to bog down, as if it's slipped into fuel-sipping mode. Be prepared to declare to your passengers, "It's not me!" as they wonder if you've just learned how to drive.
Great handling is what we've come to expect from the Jetta — secure and confident, although not indicative of a sport sedan — and the new Jetta seems adept enough. There's even a Sport package available that adds a retuned suspension, although we didn't notice a significant cornering improvement during our day-long drive north of San Francisco (though the ride was indeed firmer). Nor did we notice any decline in the Jetta's ride comfort now that it has a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension instead of a multilink setup. The steering seems to be worse than before, though: first numb and uncommunicative during straight-line cruising and then elastic and strangely artificial in the corners.
With a wheelbase that's 2.8 inches longer for 2011, the size of the Jetta's backseat has become an asset in comparison to its competition instead of a liability. Legroom and headroom are sufficient even for 6-footers, and there's enough interior passenger volume to make the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta a worthy alternative to midsize sedans like the Honda Accord, let alone the compact Civic.
The wealth of adjustment for the driver seat and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel combine to provide a good driving position for most drivers (though shorter folks may struggle to get comfortable). The seats are firm and comfortable, with those included in the Sport package featuring bigger side bolsters.
The 2011 Jetta is the first car to get VW's latest electronics interface included with the SEL's standard navigation system. Combining a small touchscreen with a pair of redundant physical buttons and a rotary knob, it is especially adept at controlling an iPod. Even those who are tech-averse should be able to figure it out quickly. The climate controls couldn't possibly be simpler and are easy to decipher, though we miss the little thumb wheels that used to operate the Jetta's heated seats (the heat settings have gone from five levels to three).
One of the Jetta's best attributes has always been its large trunk, and this latest generation is no different. With 15.5 cubic feet of space, the trunk is actually larger than those of the Honda Accord and the VW Passat.
Design/Fit and Finish
We can't remember the last time (if ever) we said this, but this Volkswagen has a disappointing interior. In pictures, it looks to be of the same quality as the Golf and previous Jetta, but touch a few surfaces and it becomes clear how Volkswagen managed to reduce both the new car's weight and its price.
In place of soft textures with low sheens, the dash and doors are now covered in a hard, slightly shiny plastic. Even the parcel shelf is now hard plastic. While the 2011 Volkwagen Jetta's interior might be a bit nicer than a Civic, the VW's cabin used to be in the same ballpark as those of Germany's entry-level luxury cars — but apparently no longer.
Then there are the little things missing, such as rear-seat air-conditioning vents, infinite-ratio backrest adjustment for the front seats, a height-adjustable and sliding center armrest and a carpeted trunk lid. Such things might seem trivial, but they have made the Jetta stand apart from its cut-price competition in the past.
Who should consider this vehicle
With its bigger size, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is more of a family car, less one for its former demographic of upwardly mobile singles. And while the Jetta remains a more upscale alternative to compact cars like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3, those who once considered it a discount alternative to an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series should look to the Suzuki Kizashi or the forthcoming 2012 Ford Focus instead.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta Overview
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Diesel, Sedan. Available styles include TDI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM), TDI 4dr Sedan w/Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM), and TDI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6M). Jetta models are available with a 2.0 l-liter diesel engine, with output up to 140 hp, depending on engine type. The 2011 Jetta comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual, 6-speed manual. The 2011 Jetta comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2011 Volkswagen Jetta?
Save up to $274.7 on one of 98 used 2011 Volkswagen Jettas for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $5988 as of Nov 17, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 106 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 1 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2011 Volkswagen Jetta trim styles:
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SEL PZEV is priced around $11599 with average odometer reading of 65151 miles.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE PZEV is priced around $8559 with average odometer reading of 68716 miles.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SEL is priced around $7995 with average odometer reading of 98000 miles.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S is priced around $7157 with average odometer reading of 97709 miles.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE is priced around $8376 with average odometer reading of 87528 miles.
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Is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2011 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.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2011 Jetta 4.2 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 2011 Jetta.
Review When I first set eyes on this vehicle I was sold. My SEL is 4 months old now and I wanted to get a real feel for her before writing this review. The exterior styling is much better this time around then the previous generation. It doesn't look cute, it looks cleaner and more Audi A4 like. VW gets a plus here. The ride is firm yet still has enough cushion to endure the NYC roads. The 2.5L has good low end torque when it's needed for passing while the 6 speed auto handles the shifting solidly. The lay out of the interior has good fit and finish. The materials they used are on par with a Chevy Colbalt as cheap hard plastic. Rear seat room is more like a midsize and fits adults perfectly.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta inventory listings Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near Ashburn VA. There are currently 1190 new and 1911 used and CPO 2011 Jettas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as 5450 and mileage as low as 29599. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a 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 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. Then select Edmunds special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to 275 on a new, used, or CPO 2011 Jetta available from one of 2796 dealerships in your area.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta safe? The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta earned a 4-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 3.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
What options are available on the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta?
Available Volkswagen Jetta 2011 Submodel Types: Sedan, 2.0T GLI, Diesel, Wagon, GLI SE PZEV, 2.0T GLI SEL PZEV, 2.0T GLI SE PZEV, 2.0T GLI SEL, GLI SEL PZEV
Available Trims: SE PZEV, 1.4T S, S, 1.4T SE, 2.0T GLI, 1.4T Wolfsburg Edition, 1.8T SE Sport, SE, 1.8T SEL, 2.5, SEL PZEV, GLS, Wolfsburg Edition, 1.8T Sport PZEV, GL, S w/Technology, TDI SE w/Connectivity, SEL, SE PZEV w/Connectivity, SE PZEV w/Connectivity, Navigation, TDI S, 1.4T S w/Technology, Limited Edition PZEV, S PZEV, Sport, TDI, TDI SEL, Wolfsburg Edition PZEV, GLS 1.8T, 2.5 PZEV, 1.8T SEL Premium, 1.8T SEL PZEV, GLI, Value Edition, Value Edition , 1.8T Sport, Base, GLI SE PZEV, GLS TDI, SE w/Connectivity, 1.4T SE w/Connectivity, 2.0T, 2.0T GLI SEL PZEV, SportWagen SE, SportWagen SE PZEV, GL TDI, GLS PZEV, GLX VR6, SE w/Connectivity, Navigation, Value Edition PZEV, 2.0T GLI SE PZEV, 2.0T GLI SEL, GLI 1.8T, GLI VR6, GLS VR6, Limited Edition, SEL Premium PZEV, SportWagen S, SportWagen S PZEV, Base PZEV, Fahrenheit GLI, GL (1999.5), GL 1.8T, GL PZEV, GLI SEL PZEV, GLS TDi, SportWagen SEL
Exterior Colors: Platinum Gray Metallic, Pure White, Black, Black Uni, Reflex Silver Metallic, Silk Blue Metallic, Tornado Red, White Silver Metallic, Candy White, Tempest Blue Metallic, Moonrock Silver Metallic, Cardinal Red Metallic, Toffee Brown Metallic, Pure White/Black Roof, Platinum Gray Metallic/Black Roof, Platinum Gray, Deep Black Pearl, Blue Graphite Metallic, Salsa Red, Tornado Red/Black Roof, Campanella White, Reflex Silver, White Gold Metallic, Galactic Blue, Cool White, Shadow Blue, Alaska Green Metallic, Blue Graphite, Silver Arrow, Silver Arrow Metallic, Wheat Beige, Atlantic Blue, Baltic Green Pearl, Blue Lagoon Metallic, North Sea Green, Spice Red, Wheat Beige Metallic, Alaska Green, Arctic Blue Silver, Bright Green Pearl, Dark Bronze Metallic, Deep Black Metallic, Fahrenheit Yellow, Galactic Blue Metallic, Galactic Blue Pearl, Laser Blue Metallic, Shadow Blue Metallic, Speed Blue, Spice Red Metallic
Interior Colors: Titan Black leatherette, Titan Black cloth, Cornsilk Beige leatherette, Titan Black/Palladium Gray cloth, Palladium Gray/Black cloth, Titan Black w/Black Headliner leatherette, Titan Black w/Gray Contrast Stitching leatherette, Black/Ceramique leatherette, GLI Titan Black leatherette, Gray, Anthracite leatherette, Pure Beige leatherette, Black, Latte Macchiato cloth, Art Gray leatherette, Ceramique (Gray) cloth, Anthracite velour, Titan Black velour, Gray leather, Beige, Anthracite leather, Cornsilk leatherette, Titan Black/Carbon leatherette, Anthracite cloth, Art Gray velour, Beige/Black leatherette, Pure Beige, Art Gray cloth, Black cloth, Anthracite, Black/Gray, Gray leatherette, Pure Beige cloth, 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, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Alarm, Navigation, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system, Upgraded Headlights, Leather Seats