2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review

VW’s TDI offering is easily the best reason to buy a new Jetta

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta arrived with a thud, followed by a chorus of boos and catcalls from the Vee-Dub faithful. Boring. Cheap. We’ve already detailed all of the fruits and faults of the plain-Jane Jetta here, but we’ll boil it down again. Larger, more spacious, class-leading rear-seat and trunk space, but a de-evolution in its technology, materials and presentation.

FAST FACTS

1. While the body and chassis have changed, the 2011 Jetta TDI relies on the same powertrain as last year, with 140-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.

2. Fuel economy ranks an impressive 30/42-mpg (city/hwy).

3. The base price of the new Jetta may have gone down significantly, but the TDI model has actually increased slightly to $22,995.

4. Much larger than the old Jetta, the 2011 model gains 2.7-inches of rear seat legroom.

To hit its new lower price of entry, the finished product is rougher around the edges compared to previous VW releases. A simpler, less expensive rear suspension that makes for a rougher ride, hard plastics in the interior and a return of the basic-but-ancient 2.0-liter four-cylinder are not positives. All done in an effort to deliver more value for the money and get more potential customers interested through a sub-$16,000 price tag.

TDI BRINGS TORQUE AND FUEL ECONOMY

Leave the sub-standard base model behind, though, and the Jetta improves, first with the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, and later in 2011, a 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. But for now, the sweet spot has to be the excellent 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine in the top-line TDI model.

Although it’s carried over from the previous Jetta, it’s hard to criticize the 140-hp unit, especially when it produces 236 lb-ft of torque from a low 1750 rpm. With either the standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch semi-automatic, the TDI hustles the 3,160-lb Jetta to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, with a top speed limited to 130 mph.

Although the TDI turns the Jetta into a mean passing machine thanks to the extraordinary torque, the real benefit is fuel efficiency: 30-mpg in the city and 42-mpg on the highway, which smokes both the four- and five-cylinder engines in the less expensive trims.

That’s smoking not in a literal sense either. Unlike older diesel engines and semi-trucks, you won’t detect a whiff of anything coming out of the Jetta’s tailpipes. The high-pressure fuel rail runs at up to 1800 bar, and piezo-injectors regulate the fuel injection up to seven times per cycle. The result is a smooth-running, quiet diesel engine. The exhaust is cleaned up using a special catalytic converter, and the resulting gases easily pass the BIN5/ULEV2 emissions standards, meaning it’s 50-state legal.

SOME COMPROMISE ON HANDLING

The downside is that the diesel engine itself is heavier than the gasoline ones, which means the Jetta handles a little differently. Just a little more push through the front wheels, but nothing dramatic. Like any German car, it’s stable at speed, and an excellent highway cruiser.

While the last Jetta’s detractors pointed to its remarkable design similarity to a Toyota Corolla, the new version is improved. The body is tasteful and sleek, if bland from the rear. The big rear overhang does mean a huge trunk, though. At 15.5 cu-ft it’s the largest in the class, and the 60/40 split-folding rear seats can expand that space into the cabin if needed.

DIESEL WILL COST YOU

Befitting its range-topper status, the $22,995 TDI starts out very well equipped with 16-inch aluminum wheels, a blacked-out front grille, and heated exterior side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The interior features power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning, a six-speaker touch-screen sound system with Sirius Satellite Radio, heated seats, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and moonroof.

The only options are chrome trim and fog lights outside, and inside, keyless push-button ignition, adjustable lumbar for the driver’s seat and a navigation system. Choosing the DSG transmission increases the price by $1,100, and adds steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. In this guise, the TDI has enough creature comforts to entertain on long commutes, but even with all the extras, the Jetta’s cabin materials don’t improve on the base model. There are still hollow plastics on the doors, dash, console and pillars, and the seats are wider and less supportive than before.

In terms of competition, it’s difficult to find any since it’s the only small diesel-powered car in North America (apart from the Golf TDI). And the other high-mileage technologies, like gasoline-electric hybrids, have completely different focus. The diesel does well on highways and at speed, while hybrids excel in urban environments where their big batteries and stop-start technologies squeeze every penny out of a tank of gasoline. Think hard about your driving patterns before investing in either.

THE VERDICT

The changes VW made for 2011 are – for better or worse – designed to appeal to a larger part of the buying public. For now, the diesel engine is the Jetta’s raison d’être. Without it, there are other compact sedans on the market that should be more reliable, more fuel efficient and more fun.

RELATED READING

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Review 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI: First Drive 2010 Toyota Prius III Review

2010 Honda Insight

  • ryobidude

    I took one out on a test drive and LOVED it.  Really fun to drive.  Felt solid.  Cornered well.  Quality materials.  This C class MB owner is looking at the TDI for mileage and much more.

  • rrdonovan

    I own a 2012 model. Yeah, the use of plastic on the doors and dash could be better, but the bottom line is that it is clean, tasteful, comfortable, and with plenty of options. It is pretty fast (over 125mph, the speedo was still climbing, but I got a lot chicken, especially with the Texas Troopers around), stable at high speeds, and corners like a mountain goat, (solid). Millage is excellent, 39-42 at 70mph. The best gas millage is got by shifting to neutral when coasting long stretches. I honestly believe that if VW put a clutch disconnect from the engine when coasting, it would add another 5-8 MPGs. Remember that the diesel is pretty tight and really controls those wheels and transmission underneath. A clutch disconnect would drop the engine to idle while coasting down a mile or two from 70mph. Love this car! Although, I do miss my Jeep Wranger….:-)

  • Sarah

    Cheap interior is right! Our dashboard has been squeaking for over a year now and despite being in to the shop a dozen times, they still can’t fix it, and we have more squeaks coming up on a daily basis. VW is no help either. Numerous emails have only resulted in ‘we will get back to you’ which they haven’t. It is very comfortable and quiet at high speeds…

  • Ckrollins1

    What is it with th e”cheap interior” complaints? Is that the only thing you could find to nit-pick?  I have the leather wrapped steering wheel, shifter and emer brake, and that is enough. How often do you stroke your dashboard, anyway?

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked