By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Jetta's newfound rear-seat roominess is welcome and useful, but the deep, massive trunk is a sight to behold.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
115 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
125 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 (manual), 23/32 (auto)
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)
By R on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "Cloth interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very happy with my 2012 Jetta. I owned a 2005 Dodge Neon when I turned 16 and totaled it when I went to college, and after that I owned a 2000 Buick Century and of course neither of those compare! My opinion might be a bit biased since the Jetta is much nicer than my two previous cars, but I don't see my opinion changing anytime soon. Everyone I have known to own a Jetta has absolutely loved it."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By rtrdad on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "quiet, great clutch and shifter feel, good MPG's"
Cons: "smidge more power would be ok, 60K timing belt"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had my Jetta for 2 months. Its my daily commuter. I traded in a 2013 Versa Sedan for the Jetta. I was not in the market for a car but saw VW had a sale in October for 5K off sticker ! My Jetta S 5 speed was 17,700 and I got it for 12,700 plus taxes. It was a no brainer as that was nearly the amount of the Versa. The Jetta is a quiet, steady , sturdy machine. It is not a speed demon but I was looking for the cheapest Jetta not the fastest. The S has lots of bang for the buck like keyless entry with truck release, an AUX jack for the radio etc. The seats are firm but my big body is getting used to them. Fit and finish is superb and even with the 2.0 its a more than adequate interstate cruiser. I wish it had cruise control and an I-pod interface. I average 36mpg and get over 40 on the interstate."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By James on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I can't be more pleased with my car. 42 mpg overall, plus quick enough to be fun. I like the fact that the car leaves a much smaller "carbon footprint" than it's hybrid competition. VW doesn't take weight out of the body to get it's fuel economy so you still have that safe, solid German feel."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By tkpdc on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas"
Cons: "not a tough car I feel like it can break any time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We have had this car for 2 years it has devaluated so fast and it's has given so much problems with electrial. I know people are very happy with their Jettas it's sad that we have had such bad experience. We Want get rid of it soon. Their customer service was great."
10 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Tweetconn on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Fun to Drive, Quiet, Quality Driving Feel"
Cons: "Prop rod for engine hood, No engine temp guage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2014 Jetta in March. My 2001 Jetta GL had given me great reliability and good service for 169000 miles and is still running great. After I sold it to a colleague I bought my new one. It has 10000 miles already and has been trouble free. It is roomy and quiet. The exterior and interior are not flashy but then neither am I. There is no learning curve for the controls in the interior. Everything is well laid out and easy to use. The seats are supportive and have lumbar support. The ride is firm but not harsh. The new 1.8 turbo engine is super. It does not use oil. My best mileage is 42.3 mpg but averages 32-34 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The 6 speed automatic shifts down quickly, keeping the rpm's relatively low. All you need to do to accelerate quickly is step on the gas. Trust me, the 1.8 has plenty of power. The SE drives like a larger car. Lots of trunk space too."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By VDubPam on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "So fun to drive, fantastic MPG, comfort, sporty!"
Cons: "Wish the SE had navigation and Fender sound system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I adore my car. I have a 2014 Jetta SE with connectivity and a sunroof, so I got the one with the updated engine and suspension but not the slightly redesigned front grill that the 2015 has. It took me a while to narrow down cars. I didn't want a vehicle with a CVT and I had good luck with my 1998 VW New Beetle, so I started thinking about returning to Volkswagen. Originally I had my eye on the VW CC but after driving a Honda Accord coupe with a low roof for 10 years and seeing a CC parked next to it with the same sloping low roofline, I decided I wanted more room. I test-drove a Jetta and a Passat during a dealer visit and fell in love with both, but decided the Passat was just too much car for my basic needs; the Jetta was the right size and more sportier. It's one of those cars that looks better up close and in person than in photographs at certain angles. The overall design, apart from the front grill, actually reminds me a lot of its more expensive cousins, the Audi A3 and A4. There's a picture online showing the Jetta and the Audi A4 side profiles and it's hard to tell them apart. It's hard to believe that other reviewers can say this is an uncomfortable car to drive with poor visibility. I find the leatherette seats very comfortable and the ride extremely smooth...going over bumps compared to the rough riding Honda coupe I had previously owned is much easier to take. The room in the back seat of this car is amazing--I would imagine someone 6' or a bit taller would find it comfortable. The trunk is also huge...and yet the car is still considered a compact size; at least, I find it easy to park and back out of spaces. My gas mileage is outstanding. I think I'm averaging around 37-38 mpg and that's with mixed highway and city driving. I also haven't had to add any oil to the engine. The dashboard design is austere and German, but I love it that way...other car brands really go overboard with buttons, knobs, and unnecessary doodads. The radio system in my Honda was a bit crisper, and I wish my SE came with the Fender audio that the SELs get but it still sounds nice and I can't complain. I love having Sirius. I have a cream interior in my car and that makes a huge difference with the dashboard and interior, as it's really two toned compared to the staunch all black interior. With no kids or dogs I don't have to worry about it getting too dirty. My dealer also gave me Monster Mats for the winter months for free. Speaking of winter, I have yet to drive the car in snow...but in the rain, even heavy downpours and going through puddles, I feel safe and it hugs the road. 170 hp may not sound like much, but I find the turbo engine fast with little lag, and don't feel any difference in getting up to speed compared to the 240 hp in my Honda. I read somewhere that VW and Audi tend to underrate the power of their engines. I also have zero qualms about the car being made in Mexico. There's a video on YouTube of the Puebla VW plant and it's pretty clear the company oversees everything...even the car parts located nearby are German companies. This is a very solid feeling car and the doors slam with a heavy "thunk" when you shut them! Besides, I plan on sticking to the maintenance schedule (which is every 10,000 miles/year) and keeping my baby for as long as possible."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful