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 Matt6251 on Sunday, August 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Good Looking, stock speakers rock."
Cons: "hard to work on, cheap interior."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I owned a 2008 Cobalt and I am disappointed I did not look into Jettas sooner. I am very impressed with the handling. I would of liked to see more quality on the inside of the car. I have switches going into my dashboard area and my accessory plug in the back is broke. Great looking car its got sport but it also has luxury. I can't say I haven't got looks while driving it around town. The seats are so comfortable you can sleep in them. I lay back the seats and I am out in 5 minutes. It has not broke down on me yet (knocking on some wood right now). The only thing I am afraid about is the cost of repairs because of the fact not even walmart sells the air filter or windshield wipers for it."
By MobileMike on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low-key styling, fit and finish, fuel economy"
Cons: "Bluetooth system, it isn't given to your at birth."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is one of those cars where you have to own it to appreciate it and I have through every one of the last 95,000 miles. The Sportwagen is a great mix of everything. The panoramic roof is fantastic and being able to close the shade with the oversized sunroof open is a great pleasure. I opted for the 6-speed manual on the TDI model and haven't regretted it a bit. Fuel economy is excellent, and driving it is a pleasure with a solid and safe feel. In regards to technology, there is just enough of it. The touchscreen radio is included with or without navigation. Nav isn't worth getting these days as our smartphones typically have superior navigation to any car system. Using a smartphone with the bluetooth system however isn't exactly a pleasure. The ambient noise on the handsfree system makes calls sound a little distant on the other end and create havoc when using Siri. That aside, streaming bluetooth audio works well and radio is just over the line of "good" in regards to sound quality. If own a Toyota or Nissan you probably will think this car doesn't have enough tech; but at the same, if you own a Toyota or Nissan you also probably shouldn't be allowed to make your own car buying decisions. Interior fit and finish is, for the most part, very good - certainly one of the best for under $30k. The vinyl seats don't look fake and the optional rubber floormats are a perfect fit. Styling overall is very unoffensive. When you show up in a Sportwagen it isn't like showing up in a car, most people won't judge you by it. It's nice, but it isn't flashy and gives off the same vibe as a Ford Explorer - you just kind of 'appear' in it, which is great. On top of everything, it is useful! The seats fold completely flat and quite a bit will fit in there, even more than will fit in a Tiguan. Overall, I have never regretted purchasing this car. The fuel economy is great, the body style is useful and it is just a pleasure to own and drive."
7 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Helipilot2 on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Durability and reliability of a Diesel engine."
Cons: "Higher maintenance cost."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am really enjoying the Jetta TDI. It handles very well in bad weather conditions and it feels like it is bullet proof. One of the downside is the cost of maintenance. It's a little high..."
8 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Joby on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,500overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Cons: "No more vw."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had to replace brakes at 37,000 miles at a cost of $400. After owning vw's for so many years I thought they would help me but they blew me off. I usually get at least 60,000 miles out of my brakes, but it wasn't the pads but the brake assembly, which are still rusty. I will never buy a vw product again. I had other problems before this and the dealer took care of it but my family has gone to Honda and they are very service oriented and helpful."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jake on Friday, August 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great driver"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"pick up is more than enough, highway noise minimal, great handling and braking. I love that tight euro feel."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By glhtroy on Friday, August 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a TDi and I get 38-40 mpg combined city Hwy. It is very comfortable and roomy even with a child seat in the back. Large trunk and even the base stereo is good. I would buy another and highly recommend for commuters who car pool or just dont want a small car."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful