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2011 Volkswagen Jetta

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.6

In many respects, the all-new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is a lesser car than its predecessor. The standard engine is far less powerful, the rear suspension is less sophisticated and the interior is no longer over-the-top refined. But it is roomier and more affordable, and that's just what Volkswagen thinks America wants. Yes, some of the Jetta's more discriminating devotees will be disappointed, but the new model will attract far more buyers than it loses. And even with the cost-cutting, the Jetta is still fun to drive and still has one of the category's finest interiors. Last three words: Outsider moving in.

You'll Like This Car If...

Interior quality, driving dynamics and individuality are still Jetta strong suits. Now that prices are down and roominess is up, Volkswagen's perennial best-seller can even appeal to your practical side.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta's 115-horsepower base engine is the weakest in the category, and the lower prices still don't qualify the Jetta as a value leader (but its historically strong resale values don't hurt). Tech-savvy buyers wouldn't be wrong to expect more from the Jetta.

What's New for 2011

The 2011 VW Jetta is an all-new car with an all-new look, but the key changes can be summed up in two words: bigger and cheaper.

Driving the Jetta

Driving Impressions Not everyone who buys a Jetta does so for things like steering feedback and roadholding ability, but European driving feel – for less than $20,000 – has been one of...

the Jetta's greatest strengths for decades. Thankfully, given the simplified suspension and added length, it still is. The familiar 2.5-liter engine is punchy if short-winded, and the five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are just fine. Highway ride is firm within reason, and highway noise is on the quieter side of the category spectrum. We're eager to drive a Jetta with the smaller, 115-horsepower engine and smaller wheels - not because we think we'll love it, but to find out just how severe the penalty is.

Diesel Power
We haven't yet driven the 2011 Jetta TDI, but we're such big fans of Volkswagen's popular diesel engine that it's already one of our favorite Jetta features.

Cargo Room
The Jetta's newfound rear-seat roominess is welcome and useful, but the deep, massive trunk is a sight to behold.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Details
Interior

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta interior in a nutshell: more room, cheaper materials. Rear legroom, which was tight in the outgoing model, is up 2.7 inches and now best-in-class. But in areas where you'd find premium-like, soft-touch materials in the outgoing Jetta, the sixth-generation model features hard plastic. Moving up the trim ladder does buy a little more flair, and it's still among the nicest interiors in the class, but we wouldn't call it a $30,000 interior like we did the last Jetta's (and the current Golf's). The Jetta's huge trunk is also worth noting, as is the unremarkable sound system. Volkswagen's decision to put the USB port in the glove compartment could madden some whose phone and portable music player are one and the same.

Exterior
2011 Volkswagen Jetta photo

The biggest Jetta ever measures about three inches longer than its predecessor. Some were hoping for more expressive sheetmetal, but we think it's a tasteful design that will stand the test of time. Exterior differentiators throughout the lineup range from small, 15-inch covered steel wheels on the base-model Jetta S, to mirror-integrated turn signals, front fog lamps, chrome accents and 17-inch alloy wheels on the Jetta GLS.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S starts under $17,000, but with a weaker engine than its competitors and a pedestrian list of standard equipment. Highlights include air conditioning, power locks/windows/mirrors (with one-click up/down on all four windows) and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with auxiliary audio input. A full complement of standard safety features includes electronic stability control and six airbags.

Optional Equipment

A loaded 2011 Volkswagen Jetta GLS features a 2.5-liter 170-horsepower engine, six-speed automatic transmission, leatherette seats, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, heated seats, touchscreen navigation/audio with six speakers and SD memory card slot, Sirius satellite radio, moonroof, rear disc brakes, and keyless entry and start. The SEL trim also offers a Sport package with a lowered sport suspension, sport-bolstered seats, aluminum pedals and unique door sills.

Under the Hood

The 2011 VW Jetta powertrain lineup will quickly grow to include four engines and four transmissions. The bread-and-butter combo is the 170-horsepower five-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport-tuned Jetta GLI will match Volkswagen's renowned 2.0-liter turbo engine with its quick-shifting and efficient six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (or a six-speed manual). The Jetta TDI will offer the same transmissions as the GLI, but mated to VW's also-celebrated turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine. At the other end of the spectrum, the base model 2011 Volkswagen Jetta S will be saddled with a 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower four-cylinder engine that, when matched to the auto transmission, has to strain for 11 seconds before pulling the car to 60 mph. A couple years down the road, we'll get a hybrid Jetta.

2.0-liter four-cylinder
115 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
125 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 (manual), 23/32 (auto)

2.5-liter five-cylinder
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 (manual), 24/31 (auto)

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (GLI only)
200 horsepower @ 5100-6000 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1700-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: TBD

2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder
140 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 (manual), 30/42 (auto)

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.4
Out of 10

Based on 304 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    8.4/10

Worst car I have ever owned!

By on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,665

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Price."

Cons: "Most unreliable car I have ever owned."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I had previously owned a 2007 Jetta Wolfsburg edition which I bought used. I loved that car. It saved my life when I had an accident where I was rear ended on the highway and slammed into the car in front of me. Thats why I decided to buy another one. I bought the 2012 new and it has been a headache from day one. The check engine light has been on more often than its been off. Its always something with the emission system too that's never covered by the warranty. Last year I needed an alternator and the part to replace it came in to the dealership broken. When I inquired how a brand new part could be broken the woman in service told me it happened all the time. I believe the parts used by VW are inferior and cheap. I think that's how they were able to get the price point down when they redesigned the Jetta in 2011. I will never buy a VW again. I'm going back to a Japanese make."

A "Midsize" Car For the Price of a Compact

By on Friday, August 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,800

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Audi acceleration and handling for the poor man."

Cons: "Long term reliability is yet to be determined."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"After driving a larger car with a V6 for a while, I decided to give VW a spin again (I had a 1985 Golf just out of college). The 1.8 TSI engine does not disappoint. The handling is best appreciated at higher speeds. At lower speeds, it is pretty standard handling for a compact. I am hoping that the reliability holds up. So far no problems whatsoever. The 2015 Passat with the same 1.8 TSI engine is rated as the most reliable mid-sized car available right now, so things should be decent. Here's hoping. I love driving this car on the Arizona highways. It does what I tell it to do, and I can easily blow by other compact cars, and a good number of six cylinder models. Merging into traffic is never a problem. The engine is fast AND quiet, and is content with 87 (recommended) octane gas. By the way, I owned the 2.0 8 valve engine (known as the 2.slow) for six months. I HATED it. The exhaust system was LOUD, and it basically required me to turn off the A/C every time I was getting onto the freeway because it had no kick. I'm getting around 30 mpg all around with the A/C going all the time. I suspect the mileage may jump up a bit once winter rolls around."

Best handling SUV and trailers well

By on Saturday, August 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Definitely more fun than any suv I have driven"

Cons: "It could use a little more clearance"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Fla camping

"I have had many cars and 3 Toyota 4-runners (great trucks but 16-18 mpg.) The Vw TDI wagen has as much cargo area, carries 2 17 foot kayaks and if set up properly (rear air bags and electric brakes) is an incredible tow vehicle for my 1500 lb pop up. (I get 30 to 33 mpg trailering.) When not trailering I get 42 to 44 consistently on hwy and 37 around town. The car has plenty of power (including trailering) and in the mountains (Ga and N.C). I always had stick shift cars/trucks. The DSG is very close to the control of a stick (without clutch pedal) when you need it (trailering and in the MTS.) The only problem was an A/C compressor (fixed quickly by VW.) I never have trouble finding diesel fuel and I travel all the time. Gas buddy is my friend. I considered and drove the new Outback but the CVT and the lack of power in the MTS was a deal breaker for me. A fun vehicle that I enjoy driving every time I get in the driver's seat."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Fla camping

Love the car, but I miss shifts with the manual

By on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great mileage, handles well, atteactive"

Cons: "Manual transmission leads to stalling"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Really good car. Handles well, great mileage, feels solidly built, attractive for a wagon. The only downside, and the reason I am selling it is that I bought the manual transmission. It is fun, but despite growing up with stick shifts, I am still missing shifts from time to time, and this can be frightening, like when it happens in an intersection. Switching to a Golf with the automatic."

16 people out of 32 found this review helpful

GLI with triptronic transmission.

By on Monday, July 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Neat car."

Cons: "High test gasoline"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Having driven many cars & trucks with manual transmissions,I was hesitant about going for an automatic transmission. To my surprise I find the triptronic when in manual mode is a manual without the clutch! Same speed limitations in gears as a manual, really liking this transmission."

5 people out of 11 found this review helpful

4th Volkswagen I have owned. 2nd GLI I have owned

By on Sunday, July 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "everything"

Cons: "sub-woofer rattles in trunk"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Love every Volkswagen I have ever owned, always fun yet efficient and has lots of room for whatever I need to take with me. Highly recommend any Volkswagen to everyone, especially the Jetta GLI."

9 people out of 17 found this review helpful

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