Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: 2011 VW Jetta

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    23,033

    2011 VW Jetta

    They say you can't go back - but sometimes, maybe, you can.

    VW's trying, anyhow.


    A few years ago, the "people's car" company decided to see whether it might become the rich people's car company - with models like the $80k Phaeton ultra-luxury sedan. It was a very lux car indeed. But it was also still a VW and das Volk (in German, the people; the everyday Joes and Janes) weren't looking for $80k anythings - and the rich people who were weren't going to spend $80k on a "people's car" - no matter how lux it may have been.


    Lesson learned - and back to the program.


    The just redone 2011 Jetta being Exhibit A.


    WHAT IT IS

    The Jetta is VW's entry-level FWD sedan. It's available with two different gas engines and a high-efficiency (42 MPG highway) diesel engine that's a great alternative to a higher-cost hybrid.


    Prices start at $14,995 for a base model with 2.0 liter engine and five-speed manual transmission. A mid-trim SE with the larger 2.5 liter gas engine and five speed stick starts at $18,195.


    The TDI diesel Jetta has a base price of $22,995.


    WHAT'S NEW

    A major redesign transforms the formerly compact-sized, Golf-based Jetta into a physically larger car that's closer to being a mid-sized sedan - with a much roomier back seat than it had before.


    Lower prices across the board. The previous Jetta started out closer to $18k than $15k - and topped out around $25k vs. the new model's not-quite-$22k max price.


    In addition to the new chassis/body and MSRP cut, the 2011 Jetta also has an all-new interior with updated features and equipment, including " dial style" audio system that mimics the look of an old-school radio and "line of sight" display with the optional GPS that shows you how the road ahead is going to unfold - and also tells you what the speed limit is wherever you happen to be driving.


    WHAT'S GOOD

    Cost-cutting returns the Jetta to the people.


    Multiple engine/transmission choices.


    Available diesel engine gives Jetta a major selling point over competitors that don't offer one ... which means, over all of them because none offer a diesel engine (as of this writing at least).


    All Jettas deliver very good gas mileage; TDI-equipped Jetta delivers superb gas mileage.


    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    Cost cutting shows in places. The Jetta is still a perfectly nice car but no longer stands out from the pack in terms of feel/refinement/materials - or performance - when compared with similarly priced competitors.


    New standard engine is smaller and much less powerful than previously standard engine.


    Turbo 2.0 liter engine is gone.


    Only the diesel-powered version of the Jetta gets a six-speed manual transmission; gas versions come with five-speeds.


    UNDER THE HOOD

    The standard engine in the 2011 Jetta is no longer the previous 2.5 liter four. In its place, there's a smaller 2.0 liter engine rated at 115 hp. It comes standard with a five-speed manual, which you can de-select in favor of an optional six-speed automatic, if you prefer. And you may prefer to do this because the automatic-equipped version is actually more fuel-efficient than the stick version: 24 city/34 highway vs. 23 city/32 highway. That extra gear in the optional six-speed automatic makes the difference, overcoming the natural economy advantage that a manual transmission usually has.


    SE and SEL Jettas come standard with a larger, more powerful 2.5 liter engine - the same engine that used to be the Jetta's standard engine. As before, it gives 170 hp and is also offered with either the five-speed stick or the six-speed automatic. A nice thing about this engine is there's virtually no fuel economy penalty to pay for the much higher output - and much better performance (0-60 in about 8.3-8.4 seconds vs. close to 10 for the 2.0 liter Jetta). EPA says the 2.5/stick Jetta can return 23 city/33 highway - and 24 city/31 highway with the more efficient six-speed automatic.


    But for the longest legs, the optional 2 liter, 140 hp turbo/direct-injection (TDI) diesel is like Elliot Ness - untouchable: 30 city, and 42 highway. You get near-hybrid real-world economy (most hybrids don't deliver their advertised MPGs unless you drive them almost exclusively at puttering around speed - and almost never on the highway).

    And - if you're money-smart - an engine that ought to last for 300,000-plus miles, which isn't likely with a hybrid.


    Unfortunately, the formerly available high-performance 2.0 liter, 200 hp turbocharged gas engine is off the roster.


    ON THE ROAD

    The new Jetta still has the firm-riding/Euro-handling feel that for years gave it an edge over other cars in its price range. It had an almost-BMW, nearly Audi-ish combination of suppleness and agility - for a lot less money than BMW or Audi charged for the experience.


    The problem for VW is that the other cars in its price range - especially the Japanese-built ones but also the newest Korean and even the American-built ones - have so greatly improved their handling/ride quality characteristics that it's no longer possible to honestly say that one of them is clearly the pick of the litter, let alone noticeably different. The truth is they're all very good - in terms of feeling "tight" and "precise," with communicative steering, no tire squeal or heaving during moderate cornering - all that stuff you read about in car reviews.


    In terms of everyday driving, the differences are becoming negligible.

    Some reviewers have nattered about VW going back to drum brakes on the back end of the base versions of the 2011 Jetta (one of the ways costs have been cut). But drum brakes work fine in the everyday driving most people do in this country at least (high-speed European roads may be another matter, but that doesn't matter here) and they are without question more durable and cost less to re-shoe when the time comes because usually re-shoeing is all you have to do. Cast iron drums are all-but-indestructible and should last the life of the vehicle; disc brake discs are not - and probably won't. Anyone who has had to pony up for a new set of disc rotors (possibly warped into ruin by a greasemonkey with an air gun) can tell you all about this.


    The optional six-speed transmission is really the only way to go. It not only gives you better gas mileage, it gives you snappy performance when you want it. Just ease the gearshift all the way back into S mode and let it do its thing.


    I normally prefer - and recommend - the manual transmission, especially in an economy-ish smaller car with a smallish engine. I break my rule in this case. Buy the six-speed. It's worth every penny - and not just at the pump, either.


    AT THE CURB

    The big news here is how much bigger the 2011 Jetta is.


    It's about three inches longer overall now (182.2 inches vs. 179.3) and the wheelbase has been extended to 104.4 inches from 101.5 previously.


    It is thus now much closer in size (and interior room) to mid-sized sedans like the Honda Accord than compact sedans like the Honda Civic. It thus straddles the middle, like several of the new "big compacts" such as the Kia Forte and Suzuki Kizashi.

    Spreading out room for rear seat occupants in particular is considerably greater than it was in the previous (Golf-based) Jetta. There is almost three inches more legroom, for example (38.1 inches vs. 35.4 in the '10 Jetta). However, rear seat headroom is actually slightly less than before (37.1 inches vs. 37.2 inches) and taller people (like me) may find that their heads are brushing up against the headliner.


    Trunk space is also slightly less than before: 15.5 cubic feet vs. 16 cubic feet in the 2010.


    Still, the car is more passenger friendly now than it was before - in addition to being more budget-friendly.


    THE REST

    I like the simple, functional rotary dial controls for the AC system. You can easily adjust fan speed and temperature without taking your eyes off the road. I also like the way the optionally available GPS map shows you what's ahead - in addition to where you are at the moment. The unit will show you curves coming up well before you reach them, for example. Also elevation changes, as you roll.


    To me, this layout is much more informative and intuitive than the more common "look down" map layout.

    The Jetta's keyless ignition system is unusual in that you must hold the button down to keep the starter going until the engine actually starts. With most other such systems, you just touch the button once and the starter spins automatically until the engine fires. It's no big deal and you get used to it almost as soon as you figure it out - but at first, you may wonder how come the engine's not starting... .


    Also: The Jetta still has a traditionally placed, manually controlled pull-up parking brake lever mounted right there on the center console. I much prefer this to the increasingly trendy electric-controlled/automatic parking brake, for two reasons: One, electric parking brakes add another layer of not-necessary cost/complexity; something that can and probably will break - and cost you a lot of money - sometime down the road. Two, it's not as safe. In an emergency, such as failure of the main brakes, a manual pull-up handle could literally save your life. You can also modulate the tension/brake force applied - which you cannot do with those push-button, electric parking brakes.


    Yes, the optional "premium vinyl" seat covers do look a little dull and plasticky - as do the new hard, um, plastics used on the dash and door panels. But on the other hand, the door jambs, trunk lid and other areas not normally visible are just as nicely painted (and clear coated) as the exterior panels. No cheaping out there.


    And: Buyers should take note that the base Jetta does not include AC. That's only standard in S and higher trims.


    THE BOTTOM LINE

    It's good to see VW returning to its roots.


    The previous Jetta was snappy and stylish but cost too much for a "people's car" - and was probably too small, too.


    No doubt, some people are going to miss the performance of the old 2.0 liter turbo engine, but the revised engine lineup is competitive with other cars in this class - while the TDI is still in a class by itself.


    Throw it in the Woods?

  2. #2
    Bravo. I've been hoping to find a real review of this car. My wife and I are trying to decide between the TDI Jetta and TDI Passat for her next car. The decision isn't as easy now that the Jetta has grown.

    I'm not sure if I go along with it being quicker to change the shoes on drum brakes than on disk brakes however. Drums do have a much longer life though.
    Last edited by Steve; 05-16-2011 at 10:58 AM. Reason: Added to thought

  3. #3
    With so much "technology" available these days, I can't figure out how the new TDI manages to get almost 10 mpg less than the older ones. My '03 with the 5-speed gets 47-50 mpg in mixed driving.

    50 horsepower added and 10 mpg lost, but for what? My 90hp car isn't even "slow".

    This Jetta is quite a big step down from previous ones, I just hope they don't take it too far down market.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    With so much "technology" available these days, I can't figure out how the new TDI manages to get almost 10 mpg less than the older ones. My '03 with the 5-speed gets 47-50 mpg in mixed driving.

    50 horsepower added and 10 mpg lost, but for what? My 90hp car isn't even "slow".

    This Jetta is quite a big step down from previous ones, I just hope they don't take it too far down market.
    Those are rated mileage numbers. Do you know what your '03 fuel economy was rated at? Usually it's lower with diesels and higher with gassers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    256

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    Those are rated mileage numbers. Do you know what your '03 fuel economy was rated at? Usually it's lower with diesels and higher with gassers.
    EPA numbers 42city 49hwy (Golf TDI)

    I had a 2001 TDI Golf (same engine but a hatchback instead of sedan).

    Before accident I was able to consistently get about 50-53 mpg
    with 75% hwy driving. Afterwards about 45-47 mpg.

    Snapped timing belt did in the car. It was too expensive for me to fix. This was one problem with an interference style engine.

    The TDI was great to drive. The torque was fantastic. The highway @ 80mph was easy. I could get up to 100 without trouble. It was not quick to 60, but that is not my driving style. It was great for my driving style.

    I did get a vag-com (~$99 unregistered version/~$200 registered) to diagnose my car for any problems. Worth it for me.

    The car had some occasional issues: head lights going out early ~$20, one Bad MAF sensor ~$370+ to replace.

    The diesel fuel is now more than regular. If you are within 20% of regular gas price you save money, but it will take longer to recover the price premium compared to gas engine.
    ================================================== =
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm

    Eric,

    The fed site indicates (city/hwy)

    4 cyl, 2.0 L, Manual 6-spd, Diesel (30/42)
    4 cyl, 2.0 L, Automatic (S6), Diesel (30/42)

    4 cyl, 2.0 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular (24/34)
    4 cyl, 2.0 L, Automatic (S6), Regular (23/29)

    5 cyl, 2.5 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular (23/33)
    5 cyl, 2.5 L, Automatic (S6), Regular (24/31)

    7.5
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Mithrandir; 05-16-2011 at 04:25 PM.
    Sincerely,
    Anthony

    'Many are my names in many countries,' he said. 'Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Drarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.' Faramir

    What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation? Cicero (106BC-43BC)

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Win32, for it is subtle, and quick to anger. -D. Martinez

  6. #6
    Snapped timing belt did in the car.
    I just changed my timing belt this weekend... How many miles were on your car before it broke? (just wondering, because I changed mine at 97,000).

    Those are rated mileage numbers. Do you know what your '03 fuel economy was rated at? Usually it's lower with diesels and higher with gassers.
    Old numbers are 42/49 and the new numbers are 35/44 (what a joke).

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    256
    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    I just changed my timing belt this weekend... How many miles were on your car before it broke? (just wondering, because I changed mine at 97,000).

    Old numbers are 42/49 and the new numbers are 35/44 (what a joke).
    about 55,000 miles on the belt. (135,000 on the car) It should have lasted for 80k miles (160k miles car)

    IIRC, I think the water pump or something else "froze" which affected the timing belt.

    I remember having 2 other thing changed in addition to the belt changed. (I think a tensioner and something else.)
    Sincerely,
    Anthony

    'Many are my names in many countries,' he said. 'Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Drarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.' Faramir

    What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation? Cicero (106BC-43BC)

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Win32, for it is subtle, and quick to anger. -D. Martinez

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Posts
    3,628
    I hate to see VW decontent the Jetta, but it sounds like they didn't pull anything out that really matters.

    Fuel prices in my part of Austin:
    Regular: $3.85
    Mid-Grade: $3.95
    Diesel: $3.99
    Premium: $4.09

    For the improvement in mileage that you get with the diesel, looks very cost-effective. Assuming you keep cars to 150k miles or longer.

    Chip H.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    23,033
    Thanks, Steve!

    The Jetta now has the interior space - but the Passat comes off as the "nicer" (better materials, posher tone) car. Not that the Jetta feels or looks cheap - it doesn't. But it's more in line with the looks/feel of other cars in its price range now - the result of the cost-cutting.

    I really like that TDI. No downsides, functionally - and the up-front costs is relatively small; such that you'd likely amortize it in fuel savings within two years and after that, the car is making you money - or at least, saving you money...


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    Bravo. I've been hoping to find a real review of this car. My wife and I are trying to decide between the TDI Jetta and TDI Passat for her next car. The decision isn't as easy now that the Jetta has grown.

    I'm not sure if I go along with it being quicker to change the shoes on drum brakes than on disk brakes however. Drums do have a much longer life though.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Posts
    3,628
    I just had a look on the VW website - the Passat is no longer shown. They have the CC, but it only has 2 engine choices - the 2.0 TSI and the VR6. While I love the VR6, I was really expecting to see a diesel.


    Chip H.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    I just had a look on the VW website - the Passat is no longer shown. They have the CC, but it only has 2 engine choices - the 2.0 TSI and the VR6. While I love the VR6, I was really expecting to see a diesel.


    Chip H.
    I think it hasn't officially been released yet. It's a mid-year 2012 model being made at the new Chattanooga plant.
    Last edited by Steve; 05-17-2011 at 12:02 PM. Reason: model year

Similar Threads

  1. 2010 VW Jetta TDI
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 01-26-2010, 08:28 AM
  2. 2009 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-17-2009, 12:14 PM
  3. Best new car: 2009 VW Jetta TDI?
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-25-2009, 11:04 AM
  4. Jetta TDI Cup at VIR
    By Eric in forum Performance/Muscle Cars
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-30-2008, 09:14 AM
  5. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-27-2007, 12:38 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •