2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: The Jetta for John
December 13, 2011
I'll say it right here and now -- I'm a fan of our Jetta TDI. Yes, the power delivery could be less lazy off the mark -- although putting the tranny in Sport mode takes the slack out of the step-off acceleration. And so would going with the manual tranny, as I would. Either solution renders this gripe a non-issue for me.
And no doubt you've heard enough about the sedan's little trip downmarket (more hard plastics/less soft-touch, non-adjustable center armrest). But let's not forget that the Jetta's price was dropped too and that most of the essential Jetta goodness remains -- solid construction, comfortable seats, sharp styling and a nice ride/handling balance for the real world of grueling workweek commutes and weekend road trips.
What too many people forget are the Jetta TDI's uncommon and greatest strengths -- great fuel economy along with plenty of pull when you want it, in a roomy, comfortable sedan. There's no need to "try" to get high fuel economy, just drive it in a normal fashion and you'll get 35-45 mpg. Lean into it to pass a left-lane laggard and that swell of turbodiesel power whisks you past. Even with our team of leadfoots and a steady diet of ever-present L.A. traffic, our Jetta is averaging 35.4 mpg, which is slightly better than the EPA's 34 mpg combined figure.
Yep, I'll take the Jetta TDI over a tiny, under-powered subcompact or complex hybrid any day. Specifically, I'd like a Jetta Sportwagen TDI as it looks good, holds a lot of stuff and retains the previous Jetta's nicer cabin. It was also my top pick in our Fuel Sipper Smackdown.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ ~ 15,200 miles