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 Alex on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,600overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "0 percent finance for 60 months"
Cons: "HIGH cost of ownership."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This requires 91 octane gasoline. Which is not sold in the US. On the advice of my salesman, we put 89 octane. My valves are now "dirty", and require a $1000.00 to $700.00. Based on my internet research, this is normal for this car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Grandpa Bill on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a grandpa in my 60s but I love cars and have owned many brands and styles including sports and convertibles. The Jetta TDI with the manual shift I have is fantastic. It is quick and nimble because it is light and has the turbo and the manual and it is actually fun to drive. But it is still a four door family car. I haul grandkids and there is plenty of room for three in rear; the trunk is huge about 15+ cu.ft- and the seats fold down, you can put big long stuff in there. I have Nav, Blue tooth, leather, good sound, power driver's seat, all for about $26k. I love BMW 3 series, but this car is 1/2 the price and a great value. But main reason for owning this car is the mileage. On diesel (yes it costs more) I get 30mpg combined and 40+ highway. I fill up a couple times a month and can go 450-500 miles on a tank."
By Chuck on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value"
Cons: "Slightly rough ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Quicker than it looks especially in sport mode, disappointed it's not 4wheel disc although brakes are more than adequate huge trunk interior well laid out"
By Shotgun on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel mileage, 6 speed transmission, OK performance"
Cons: "OK performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fuel mileage is great. Summer in combination of city and highway is always right around 45mpg. Winter - due to reformulated diesel fuel - is at about 42. Minimal maintenance and great dependability to date. My brother-in-law owns an earlier year's version and recommended it to me. Couldn't be much happier. Acceleration could be a bit better but I consider it a reasonable trade off for the great fuel mileage. I regularly cruse at 70/75 with no issues about stability or drift; obviously made for the autobahn. I'd love to own (and be able to afford the gas) a 1969 Dodge Charger with a 440 but given the realities of the day, this is an excellent choice."
By Pick251 on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "See review!"
Cons: "Lacking AWD & 8 spd. DSG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned this car for nearly three and a half years, and, although there have been some relatively minor issues here and there, I think this is an excellent car on many levels. Given the complexity of the engine and transmission, as well as many other attributes, I think this car offers a great deal of value for the money. It is beautifully designed and thought out. Furthermore, it blows away the competition in fuel mileage. It does better in the city than advertised and on occasion even on the highway, depending on various factors. Of course the Prius V does well and has almost as much room, but has nowhere near as much torque, which is very evident in the summer in hilly terrain with the car packed full of wife and children and the accompanying accouterments. My personal best in this car is 44 on the highway, and it regularly returns about 32 in the city. Overall, I'd say it averages around 37-38mpg. This is based on miles driven divided by fuel burned, and not the computed figure given on the instrument panel. It would be nice if the car were a little wider and the rear seats were a bit roomier. It would really be outstanding if VW offered the Passat All-Track TDI Sportwagen here! Anyway, I find it astonishing that there are people out there who cant or wont give this car its do. It has plenty of power for the intended application, and I've had no issues with it in the snow. The OEM Continentals were excellent, and my current set of Michelin MXM4 Primacy may only be marginally better. Bottom line... if you love Diesel efficiency and torque, combined with a relatively sporty handling, plenty of cargo space, and beautiful lines, then you'll appreciate this car."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Joe on Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving Dynamics is very good"
Cons: "Poor quality such remote and bluetooth"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"CAR WAS PURCHASED AT THE END OF NOV, 2013 AT THREE COUNTY VOLKSWAGEN IN NJ. TWO ISSUES WERE NOTICED THE NEXT DAY: (1) REMOTE ONLY WORKS VERY CLOSE TO THE CAR. (LESS THAN 10 FT) (2) BLUETOOTH AUDIO STREAMING FUNCTION NEVER WORK PROPERLY MORE THAN 10MINS. CAR WAS SENT TO DEALER AT DEC 30. I WAS TOLD FEW DAYS LATER: A) NEW PART NEED TO BE ORDERED AND HAD NO IDEA HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT; B)MORE THAN 12 PEOPLE WERE IN THE WAITING LIST FOR THE BACKUP CAR. I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TOOK MY CAR BACK SINCE I NEED A CAR TO COMMUTE. AROUND JAN. 10, I WAS TOLD NEW PART WAS RECEIVED AND CAR WAS SENT TO DEALER AGAIN. FEW DAYS LATER I WAS TOLD ISSUES WERE NOT SOLVED AFTER REPLACING THE PART AND FURTHER ASSISTANCE WAS NEEDED FROM VOLKSWAGEN. I WAS TOLD THE ASSISTANCE FROM VOLKSWAGEN STILL DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM AND ‘OTHER KIND’ OF FURTHER ASSISTANCE WAS NEEDED FROM VOLKSWAGEN AT JAN. 16. I HAD TO WAIT LONGER. I WAS TOLD ‘OTHER KIND’ OF FURTHER ASSISTANCE FROM VOLKSWAGEN DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM NEITHER AND THE DEALER HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY CAN DO EXCEPT WAITING. I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TOOK MY CAR BACK AGAIN. TILL NOW, THE CAR HAS BEEN IN DEALER MORE THAN 3 WEEKS WHICH I ONLY HAD OWNED THIS CAR 8 WEEKS, AND THESE ISSUES ARE STILL THERE."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful