First Test: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Conservative Candidate's Campaign PromisesVolkswagen Jetta Full Overview
For 2011, Volkswagen has taken its volume-selling Jetta in a new direction. It's not so radically different that you won't recognize the car, but there are significant changes. In the recent past, the Jetta was seen as a costlier upmarket alternative to the Corolla, Civic, and Focus; the new model has been redesigned to compete in the heart of the market.
But you wouldn't know that based on the dimensions of the sedan and wagon. After all, it's rare that a car that costs less than the model it replaces, while offering a roomier interior on a longer wheelbase. But that's the case here-base price is down to $16,765 (as seen in the "Build" section on Volkswagen's consumer site) for the S trim level, and the vehicle is 2.9 inches longer. It's also said to weigh 110 pounds less than the 2010 Jetta.
For that reduced entry fee, there's a lot underneath its redesigned skin. There are four engines to choose from, ranging from a 115-horsepower inline-four in the S to an estimated 211-horsepower four in the upcoming GLI, with a turbodiesel and an inline-five in between. There are also two manuals and an automatic, and it's expected that the GLI will have the GTI's six-speed twin-clutch automatic. And the SportWagen returns for 2011, starting at a hair over $20K. With all of this value, though, comes some compromises.
We drove two different models of the new Jetta, the SEL and the TDI, likely to be the two volume trims. (We wouldn't normally consider a turbodiesel as a volume seller for any car, but diesel VW fans are a rabid group, and a big percentage of Jettas sold in the U.S. are diesels.) The SEL came with the 2.5-liter four, an engine that puts out 170 horsepower, and, until the GLI goes on sale, represents the highest horsepower engine in the line. Reviews are mixed on this engine. It did push the Jetta to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, but, oddly, even though we tested a previous-gen Jetta SEL that weighed about 75 pounds more and used an engine with 20 fewer horsepower, performance data was almost identical.
The 2011 TDI we tested, which weighs about 170 pounds less than our 2009 long-termer, has the same 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque as before, but takes 0.4 second longer to reach 60 mph. These are minor differences in the big scheme of things, but you'd think the improvement in the weight-to-power ratio would result in better performance, and it doesn't. One place where there was a huge improvement was in braking, where both cars reduced 60-0 stopping distance by 12 feet.
On the road, each model has its own distinct personality. The SEL provides decent power with sluggish acceleration and artificial steering feel, while the TDI offers fantastic torque and solid on-center feel, with better steering and larger tires that improve grip in turns. The TDI model has a feeling of honesty and simplicity, and is the real gem of the lineup. It also offers an impressive 36.7 mpg as tested. Both models are excellent in the corners, and offer a nice, quiet ride on smoother roads. Because the suspension is somewhat firm, it does let in bumps on uneven surfaces.
The new Jetta is an attractive car, with Audi-like styling cues, but the interior reflects some of the cost-cutting that enabled the MSRP to go down. The cabin looks nice, and is easy enough to use, but VW might have dipped into the company's parts bins too many times. The rear seat is surprisingly generous, as is the trunk. But the cabin uses lower-quality materials than before; the dash is covered in hard plastic; switchgear materials feel downmarket; and the leatherette seats won't fool anyone. Even with those gripes, the Jetta has a feeling of substance and quality that is hard to find at this price point, one that could allow college students to consider a car that may not have been on their list a year ago. The big question will be whether would-be buyers will mind the reduction of content and material quality in the cabin. If they don't, VW's new direction for the Jetta might mean gains in market share in one of the most competitive segments.
|2011 Volkswagen Jetta|
|Base price range||$16,765-$22,165|
|Price as tested||N/A; $24,165|
|Vehicle layout||Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|Engine||2.0L/140-hp/236-lb-ft turbodiesel 16-valve I-4; 2.5L/170-hp/177-lb-ft DOHC 20-valve I-5|
|Transmission||6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic|
|Curb weight (f/r dist)||3179 lb (61/39%); 3141 lb (60/40%)|
|Length x width x height||182.2 x 70.0 x 57.2 in|
|0-60 mph||8.8 sec; 8.3 sec|
|Quarter mile||16.6 sec @ 83.9 mph; 16.2 sec @ 86.7 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||113 ft; 114 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||0.82 g (avg); 0.82 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||28.2 sec @ 0.58 g (avg); 27.5 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)|
|EPA city/hwy fuel econ||30/42 mpg; 24/31 mpg|
|MT observed fuel econ||36.7 mpg; N/A|
|CO2 emissions||0.56 lb/mile; 0.73 lb/mile|
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Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta Reviews
How to access if a used Jetta SE 5cyl has had any recalls that have been repaired and closed and fair purchase cost for used
I know the sites to find out if there are recalls open on the used 2011 VW. Yet if the report states 0 open recalls this can also indicate they had a recall on the car and it was repaired. Car fax nor the NHTSA include this.....I am concerned about the recalls and when or if any were done in the past. I may purchase this car for my son whom is a college student first time car owner. I want the experience to be positiveCar seems to be in great condition but includes a vague description of a rear collision with 0$ damage. Not sure if the car was rear ended or if the car hit another in the rear. Other than that it has 44,500 miles for 11595.00 purchase cost. Leather interior and no wear visible externally or within. Is this to good to be true?
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2011 Volkswagen Jetta User Reviews
The car has all the features Im wanting, The car price is okay, if there wasnt a shortage of new cars it might be better, Overall very happy .
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Looking for a Used Jetta in your area?
CarGurus has 11,790 nationwide Jetta listings starting at $1,800.
Just right for the rod I want to travel
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I have a 2011 Jetta that’s why I’m looking for another they ride so smooth even wit mechanical problems I love my JETTA!
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Nice Sedan. Powerful And Roomy, Saddened By Cheap Construction. — I love my Jetta. Nice 2.5 liters engine, with MANUAL (YAY!) transmission is an absolute joy to drive. Peppy and fast, with the 2.5 liters engine, which puts out 170 Hp! Great on gas, nailed to the road and VEEEERY comfortable, especially with the new Pirelli tires. Cool to look at, too!
Primary Use: Family transportation
Pros: Nice modern look, with large interior. rear seats are very comfortable.
HUGE trunk, furl economy is around 30MpG, which isnt bad at all for a 2.5 liters.
All in all a great family car, good for long distance, too.
Cons: Plastic is a tad Plasticky...
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2011 Vw Tdi — Loved this car, sold it to our 19 yo daughter--she wanted a 350Z but was unable to get a loan and feel this is a blessing in disguise-this car is much safer in my opinion. This car has a surprising amount of Leg room in the back my son 6'3" does not have a problem as long as the front seat is not pushed all the way back and the trunk is huge. The only drawback was that I did not like riding in it on a cross country vacation--felt to closed in and got it stuck in our driveway last winter.
Primary Use: Commuting to work
Pros: Love this car-mileage is awesome great fuel economy
Cons: Not fun to ride in on long trip with entire family! Does not do well in deep snow--no brainer but I need something I can get to work in regardless of weather
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Great Car For Most People — 2011 Jetta does lots of things well. Good on fuel economy, looks great, handles better and has a surprisingly spacious interior. I am 6'2 and am comfortable driving the car. The trunk is also a lot bigger than I thought it would be.
Primary Use: Commuting to work
Pros: Great car and plenty of pick. Inline 5 cyc engine is great. Fuel economy is good not as great as others in the same price but they sacrifice power.
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Nguyễn Vạn writes:
Awesome...love The New Design — Great car, my wife love it. We take it out for road trip all the time. Great on gas mileage, the awesome thing is you only have to do maintenance once in 10k miles. Only the coat of it lol
Cons: Cost too much for maintenance
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Fun And Practical At Once. — The signature Volkswagen vehicle, the Jetta is a lot of fun to drive. It handles spectacularly for a sedan, and the CVT engine makes for a unique driving experience. The interior room is decent, the sound system is engaging, and overall this is a good choice as a primary or secondary vehicle.
Primary Use: Commuting to work
Pros: Great handling, fun drive, interior and exterior live up to the Volkswagen name, fantastic trunk space.
Cons: Fuel economy could be better
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A Reliable Car Prepared For Any Obstacle. — Overall the car has the best bang for your buck than any car on the market because of the long list of pros. Additionally, the vehicle is able to perform with the utility of a much larger car because it has a spacious trunk that is able to hold any size object.
Primary Use: Commuting to work
Pros: Excellent fuel consumption, almost no costs except for the car's cost, comfortable for long drives, handles well on the highway, small enough to easily fit into any parking spaces.
Cons: The backseat is not very big so it is hard for long road trips seated in the backseat.
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Nice Car — I love this car . Look so cool. Seat so comfortable . I love classic style inside car . Yes, this car fun to drive !!! Exterior size car good too, its middle car , not small not so big ! On gas its not cost a lot . Trunk not small to . I like button to open trunk its easy to press on driver door .
Primary Use: Commuting to work
Pros: Have fun to drive .
Cons: Non negative for me
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Volkswagen jetta reviews 2011 se
Be Smart, Check in Advance. CARFAX — Your Vehicle History.
CARFAX — Your Vehicle History Expert
Sometimes what you don't know can't hurt you, but that's not the case when buying a used car. As an independent vehicle history provider, at CARFAX we've made it our mission to tell you everything you need to know by uncovering as many events as possible from the previous life of a used car. Our primary goal is to help you get to know your next car from the inside out before deciding to make an investment that will be part of you and your family's everyday life. We believe your next car shouldn't be hiding anything from you.
CARFAX Vehicle History Reports contain over 28 billion historical records from 20 European countries, the US and Canada, which are updated daily with new information.
Even if you live in a country we don't collect vehicle data from, it's still always worth checking the Vehicle Identification Number without obligation. The used car import and export market is booming and many owners would be surprised to find out exactly what happened to their vehicle during its previous life abroad.
Privacy for Customers — Transparency over Vehicles
Let's be clear: Although we strive to find every detail of a vehicle's life so far, we are focused only on the vehicle's history, and do not collect any information on previous owners. The information we provide relates solely to the vehicle, its odometer reading, any accidents that have been covered up, where the vehicle comes from and much more — it never gets personal. We've uncovered irreparable damage several times in the past, but other times our vehicle history checks draw a blank — and sometimes that's actually a good thing.
Second Hand — Not Second Best
Did you know that considerably more used cars are sold than new cars? We think this second-hand system is nothing short of fantastic. However, it goes without saying that it gives rise to different methods and tactics: Some sellers will disguise a car that's been in an accident under a fresh coat of paint, tamper with the odometer or conceal theft. This is one of the less appealing aspects of buying second hand. Our goal is to establish trusting relationships between buyers and sellers, since this is the best way to help customers make the right decision. Your new car should be reliable and make you feel safe, as well as make you feel like you haven't paid too much.
But more than anything else, we don't want you or your family unknowingly sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that isn't 100% safe. This is why we strive to take these vehicles off the road, which not only makes the used car market safer but our streets safer too.
CARFAX — 35+ Years of Experience in Vehicle Histories
CARFAX was founded in the US in 1984 and expanded into Europe in 2007. Around 100 team members spread across six European offices process vehicle information from 22 countries.
Fostering strategic partnerships with registration authorities, law enforcement agencies, government departments, insurance companies, inspection centers and numerous other leading companies around the world has enabled us to compile a unique international database for vehicle histories. We use this database to help make the used car market more transparent. We give everyone in the process of buying a used car access to what is currently the world's most comprehensive source for vehicle history reports, and is growing day by day.
We remain neutral and independent despite our partnerships — our sole purpose is help customers make an informed choice and ensure their safety and the safety of their family. This includes never collecting any personal details — we do not accept any PII from data sources amongst the information we provide about a vehicle. We ensure that data protection laws are observed at all times. Furthermore, we always collect our data in compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks — in all the countries in which we are active. We expressly distance ourselves from illegal activities such as data theft, scraping and hacking.
During the press launch of the outgoing Jetta back in 2005, Volkswagen touted that car as a less expensive alternative to an Acura TSX or Volvo S40. Volkswagen pointed to its growth in size, high-quality interior, new rear suspension, and refined demeanor as evidence that the Jetta had moved out of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla class. Now take that script and reverse it. In introducing this car, the all-new 2011 Jetta, Volkswagen made it clear that the targets are once again the strong-selling Civic and Corolla. To entice folks considering those cars to also look at the Jetta, VW has lowered the model’s price, introduced a 115-hp base version, reduced the complexity of the options and trim levels, and grown it even further.
But there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that means the 2011 Jetta has had to make some concessions. One very obvious compromise can be seen its dashboard material. Whereas the previous car had soft-touch, nicely grained plastics that were comparable to those of the Mercedes-Benz E-class, the new model has hard plastic that wouldn’t look too out of place in a Chrysler Sebring. The design itself is straightforward and handsome, but the hard plastic shines as if slathered with Armor All. Less obvious cost cutting includes the loss of adjustability for the center armrest, a lack of lumbar adjustment in most models, no more power-reclining seatbacks, and a simpler stability-control program that can no longer be shut off or even reduced. All models besides the top-spec GLI return to a torsion-beam solid rear axle, and the bottom two trim levels (S and SE) have rear drum brakes instead of discs. The news gets worse. Electric power steering is replaced by hydraulic power steering on non-GLI models, the hood no longer is held open by gas struts, and the compact gas-strut four-bar linkage that held open the previous Jetta’s trunk has been replaced by goose-neck-style hinges that intrude into the trunk compartment. Volkswagen clearly thinks the typical Civic or Corolla buyer won’t miss—or even notice—the lack of these items.
Hey, Look At the Pretty, Shiny Metal!
Volkswagen would, however, like shoppers to notice the Jetta’s new sheetmetal, which, ironically, is far less Corolla-esque than that of the previous generation. Slightly longer than before (by 2.9 inches), the new look signals that the Jetta is no longer just a Golf with a trunk. It’s far more polished and cohesive than the previous generation, especially when outfitted with the up-spec 17-inch wheels. There’s an expensive, almost Audi-like look to the Jetta, and that should sit well with VW loyalists and converts alike (well, so long as they stay outside).
Base Price Is Nice
But it’s the price that will really appeal to buyers cross-shopping the Corolla, the Civic, and the Jetta. At the bottom of the lineup is the Jetta S. Powered by an eight-valve 115-hp, 2.0-liter SOHC four-cylinder (yes, the same engine that powered the third-generation 1993 Jetta), the S starts at $16,755 and comes with a five-speed manual, air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, anti-lock brakes, cloth upholstery, stability control, remote keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, free maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, and an AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input. Volkswagen claims 0-to-60-mph acceleration times of 9.8 seconds for the five-speed manual and 11.0 seconds for the optional ($1100) six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel-economy estimates for the S engine are 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway for the manual version and 23/32 for the automatic. VW didn’t have a base car available at the press launch, and we took that to mean the company wasn’t particularly proud of having a 17-year-old engine in its new car.
Moving up to the Jetta SE brings the familiar 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder found in the outgoing Jetta and current Golf. The more powerful engine does not affect fuel economy much, as the 2.5 achieves 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with the five-speed manual and 24/31 with the six-speed auto. In addition to the standard equipment from the Jetta S, the SE adds 16-inch steel wheels, vinyl seats that do a convincing impersonation of leather, floor mats, body-colored outside mirrors with turn signals, cruise control, illuminated vanity mirrors, chrome interior trim, and a rear center armrest. The SE starts at $18,955, and Volkswagen predicts it will be the bestselling version of the new Jetta. Add the Convenience package to the SE ($1350), and you get 16-inch aluminum wheels, Sirius satellite radio, two extra speakers for the stereo, iPod connectivity, heated seats, Bluetooth, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls. Drop another $1250 on an SE, and besides the Convenience pack goodies, you get a sunroof and a touchscreen stereo head unit with a built-in six-disc changer and SD card reader.
Until the sporty GLI arrives in early 2011, the top Jetta will be the SEL. Starting at $22,155, the SEL adds the following to the SE with the Convenience package: 17-inch aluminum wheels, a touchscreen navigation system, chrome exterior trim, fog lights, four-wheel disc brakes, and proximity-based keyless entry and start. Adding a sunroof to the SEL costs $900. And finally, something for enthusiasts: The SEL is available with a Sport package that includes stiffer suspension tuning, sport seats, and aluminum pedals. An SEL with the Sport package—it includes the sunroof—starts at $23,755.
Wanna Go Diesel? You’ll Have to Wait.
The Jetta S, SE, and SEL go on sale in early October. The TDI won’t arrive until the end of the year. Powered by the same 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder it had last year, the $23,755 TDI will carry all the equipment of the top-spec SE plus rear disc brakes. The diesel makes 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque that, according to VW, is good for a 0-to-60 sprint of 8.7 seconds with a six-speed manual or the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox (an $1100 option). But what diesel buyers will perhaps be more interested in is the TDI’s fuel economy, which comes in at an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway.
Still Good to Drive, Despite the Cost Cutting
After driving an SEL with a sunroof and an SEL with the Sport package, we can say that we don’t really miss the multilink rear suspension. Although the cost cutting is readily apparent in the simplified mechanicals and interior appointments, the driving experience is nearly identical to that of the outgoing model. Even without the sportier suspension, the chassis is tautly damped and responsive to driver inputs. Although the switch from electrically boosted steering to a hydraulic system didn’t improve the slightly numb on-center feel, the steering effort of the hydraulic unit builds in a more linear manner in response to cornering loads. The slightly firmer and lower Sport-package suspension is a bit more harsh and finds the bump stops more readily than the base setup, but it does offer slightly quicker responses and more roll resistance. The manual gearbox shifts easily, but it has very tall gearing in the top two gears, necessitating the occasional downshift into third to find any meaningful acceleration. The optional six-speed automatic is eager to shift into the upper gears in the interest of fuel economy, but it downshifts without hesitation. The autobox again features a sport mode that holds the lower gears longer; manual gearshifts can be actuated via the shift lever. Wind, road, and engine noise are muted, and the car—at least in SEL guise, like those we drove—has a more upmarket feel than its smaller Japanese competition. Plus, the Jetta’s rear seat is far roomier than the Civic’s or Corolla’s and is closer to cars in the mid-size-sedan segment. We’d still like to experience the SE or the base S, which compete more directly with the Civic and Corolla, to see if the impression of refinement holds up.
Volkswagen has big plans to grow its stateside sales, and it hopes to sell 800,000 VW-badged cars in the U.S. in 2018. That is, as you might expect, very ambitious, especially considering VW sold roughly a quarter of that number here in 2009. The company is clearly targeting the mainstream buyer with the 2011 Jetta, so we’re glad to see that the competent, Germanic driving dynamics have remained intact despite the obvious cost cutting. Of course, if the cutbacks to the new Jetta bother you, VW will happily sell you a Golf or even a Jetta SportWagen (the wagon is still based on the previous generation). Those cars haven’t been decontented—at least not yet.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED: S, $16,755; SE, $18,955; SEL, $22,155; TDI, $23,755
ENGINES: SOHC 8-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 115 hp, 125 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter diesel inline-4, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft; DOHC 20-valve 2.5-liter inline-5, 170 hp, 177 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed automatic, 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 6-speed manual with automated shifting and clutch
Wheelbase: 104.4 in
Length: 182.2 in
Width: 70.0 in Height: 57.2 in
Curb weight: 2800-3200 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 8.2-11.0 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 120-130 mph
FUEL ECONOMY (MFR-S EST):
City/highway driving: 23-30/31-42 mpg
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2011 Volkswagen Jetta review: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen previously priced itself above its intended market, but wants to regain the title of peoples' car with the all-new Jetta. At its very base S trim, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta can be had for $15,995. But forget any tech features at that level--for the good stuff you need to move up to the SEL trim, a little pricier at $21,395.
Our Jetta SEL review car looked like a very good value, even at that price. For one, its navigation and Bluetooth phone systems are standard. It also gets a bigger engine than in the lower trim, but still gets mileage in the high 20s.
No matter what trim it comes in, the new Jetta isn't much to look at. Although it features a very modern design, with smoothed metal and de-emphasized ornamentation, it is nearly the Platonic ideal of a sedan. The roof shows a pleasant amount of curvature while allowing ample interior headroom, the hood tapers down to keep the grille from being too prominent, and the back flows evenly into the bumper.
Many people like nondescript cars, so in that sense the body style works for Volkswagen, but good luck finding it in a parking lot. On a practical note, the trunk is amazingly large. It actually seemed about equal to that of the Audi A8 we tested recently.
One engine among many
On paper, the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine sounds quite powerful. With 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, we expected to do front-wheel burn-outs. But the sensation was on the anemic side, with power quickly falling off as we accelerated. Knowing what we could get out of this engine, we learned to plan our passing and merging maneuvers very carefully.
The SEL comes with this five-cylinder engine, but three other engine options are available.
Although it uses double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, this engine stops short of some of the efficiency advances Volkswagen has in its toolbox. But there will soon be a 2011 Jetta with a 2-liter direct injection turbocharged engine, Volkswagen's TSI, along with a diesel, TDI version. Another engine option currently available is the 2-liter four-cylinder in the base model, which only makes 115 horsepower.
The Jetta SEL's engine didn't feel particularly strong, but we wrung what we could out of it with the standard manual transmission. This manual showed good action through its gate, easily and comfortably shifting from gear to gear without confusion, but it is only a five speed, which seems a little behind the times. An automatic is also available for the Jetta, and the DSG can be had in the upcoming turbo and diesel versions of the car.
Even lacking direct injection, the fuel economy was very good. The EPA ratings for the Jetta SEL are 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. While cruising along freeways at speeds around 75 mph, we maintained 30 mpg, and turned in a final average of 28.3 mpg. It took a long time for the graphic fuel gauge to drop bars.
This manual transmission let us wring a little bit of fun out of the car.
No sports car, the Jetta's steering is tuned with the same sort of comfortable slack as the shifter. There is a little bit of initial play in the wheel, but it never feels loose. This built-in slack keeps the handling from being twitchy, in line with the widespread appeal Volkswagen intends for the car. The ride quality is about what we would expect, firm but not uncomfortable.
Nav and Bluetooth, standard
Surprising is Volkswagen's decision to mostly do away with options and make cabin tech dependent on trim level. The SEL trim car comes standard with navigation, Bluetooth phone system, and digital audio sources.
Volkswagen's new navigation system is a huge improvement over previous versions we've used in terms of performance, but it also lacks many features. This flash-memory-based system reacts quickly, whether processing user inputs or recalculating routes. It also offers both 3D and 2D maps, and shows the speed limit of the current road, something few factory navigation units do.
But the LCD is on the small side, and the system does not integrate external data, such as traffic or weather information. Nor does it read out street names or show detailed graphics describing upcoming turns. One particularly surprising omission is the ability to select destinations from the map, something most navigation systems can handle.
The new cabin tech interface is visually appealing and works very well.
We very much like the new interface for accessing the cabin tech features. The LCD is a touch screen, and all inputs can also be made with a knob and two buttons below the screen. The onscreen menus use a semicircular pattern with an attractive design. We found it easiest to use the knob and buttons for some operations, such as scrolling through a list, then hitting the touch screen when inputting letters or numbers.
This interface takes a cue from Audi's cabin tech, using different colors for different applications, with navigation in blue, audio in red, and the phone system in green.
And similar to Audi, the new Jetta gets one of the most advanced Bluetooth phone systems in the business. After an unnecessarily long pairing process, the system imported our iPhone's contact list. We were able to access the contacts on the car's screen, of course, and were also able to use the voice command system to dial by name.
These buttons on the steering wheel control the stereo and activate the voice command system.
The audio menus use separate screens for broadcast, which includes satellite radio, and fixed media, with the same semicircular menu treatment. We were pleased to find that the media sources not only had iPod integration, but also Bluetooth stereo streaming. There is also an SD card slot next to the screen.
The iPod cable, inconveniently placed in the glove compartment, uses the same proprietary port originally used by Audi. This port allows for a variety of cables, with connectors for iPods, full-size, and Mini-USB, and a simple 1/8th-inch auxiliary input.
As for browsing an iPod library, the interface makes it easy to look through music based on artist, album, or genre. A slight annoyance: the system always defaulted to showing the full list of songs every time we connected an iPod, forcing us to back up a few menus to look by artist or album.
The iPod menu lets you choose music by artist, album, or genre.
The audio quality from the car's six-speaker system was nothing special, but a step above what would come from the lesser-trim Jetta's four-speaker system. Bass and treble response were both reasonable, but the system tended to bury a lot of the detail from music we played through it. Turning up the volume on tracks with heavier bass, we heard the inevitable panel rattle we would expect from a cheap system.
Volkswagen does not make use of the Jetta's LCD for a backup camera, although the car is not in dire need of that feature. Other driver assistance features, such as blind-spot detection, are also not available.
In many ways, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SEL is a very average car. The engine and transmission move the car reasonably well and turn in good fuel economy, but they don't exploit the latest efficiency technologies, which might result in more satisfying power.
Impressive in the SEL is the inclusion of the entire cabin tech suite as standard. Although the navigation system is very basic, it is a solid performer. The Bluetooth phone system is the most standout application in the electronics.
We mentioned the mundane design of the Jetta, but otherwise we do like its modern styling. It also earns points for the design of its cabin tech interface, which is particularly good.
|Model||2011 Volkswagen Jetta|
|Power train||2.5-liter five-cylinder engine; five-speed manual transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||23 mpg city/33 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||28.3 mpg|
|Navigation||Standard flash memory based|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Bluetooth streaming, USB drive, auxiliary input, satellite radio|
|Audio system||Six-speaker stereo|
|Price as tested||$22,295|