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 Passing lane on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Efficient and fun to drive"
Cons: "Hurts right knee rests against the center console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"While still new, I believe VW has designed and build a great car for this purpose. I like the capacity-carrying of a wagon, and yet has tight handling of a sedan. Great fuel efficiency, power, smooth cruising. I'll check in before 100k for an update."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By TW on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I was first looking for a car upon taking an outside sales position I needed the following: great on fuel mileage, would keep up with 25-30k miles annually, easy to maintain, and was overall looking for an affordable option. My 2012 Jetta TDI has not let me down, currently just under 80k miles in my two and a half years of owning it and am so happy with my purchase that I'm looking at getting a Passat TDI now. I drive anywhere from 1-3k miles per month for my job, being able to get 600 miles on a tank highway commute is a timesaver! Best tank to date has been 46 mpg, but usually hover around 41/42 mpg with 80% highway / 20% city driving. Pros: bottom line is fuel mileage!, maintenance only every 10k, quality sound system for the size of vehicle, leg room is adequate compared to other cars in class, great handling, and fun to drive with the turbo, manual shift is butter smooth Cons: Initial purchase price of diesel (break even point is usually about 100,000 miles), maintenance can be a bit pricey (but is only every 10k), doesn't handle great in snow, interior isn't as nice as is past models, leather quality isn't the same as the premium models"
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Noel50 on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exceptional fuel efficiency, sure-footed handling."
Cons: "Poor traction in snow, road noise."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I initially leased this 2011 TDI Sportwagen then purchased it at lease-end (36 months).Overall, it has been incredibly economical (44 mpg hwy/31 overall) and reliable. It is comfortable (I'm 6'2") with an adequate sound system (not great). My only knock on the car is that it is not snow-friendly. The vehicle came with Continental tires that were toast within 32,000 miles. I then added Michelin "Defender" all-season tires thinking it would improve snow handling. It did not improve snow handling much at all. Assuming you do not need to count on in in a snowstorm, it is well worth the price."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Kody on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,680overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well priced, solid handling, nice interior space"
Cons: "Some issue with this year model axle?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the car as my first personal vehicle (no parental aid either financially or advisory), was more than satisfied with the experience. Was able to finance it on my own, and for the age I was, the car did wonders for me in terms of reliability, and the quality was just top notch in terms of mechanical composition. Fantastic vehicle for Interstate travel and around town travel."
26 people out of 46 found this review helpful
By john karr on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"bought a Jetta 2015 tsi. driven 8 hundred miles.Car rides good and has good power Handles well. Miss having a temperature gauge and fog lights.Interior is quite, solid.Because car is new waiting to see how reliability will be"
30 people out of 57 found this review helpful
By kyle on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I absolutely loved my 2009 Jetta Wolfsburg (2.0T) but it was getting high miles so I thought I'd trade it in for the new Jetta. In hindsight, I really wish I had kept my MKV. This new MKVI style feels dumbed down and the quality is not nearly up to par with the MKV. Cheap plastic dash, versus the soft touch before. Leatherette feels much more rubbery that before. Then engine note makes me feel sad compared to the MKV. I still can't find a really comfortable seating position even after a year of owning it. The radio in this car is by far the worst I've heard of any car I've owned. The MKV had 10 speakers which put out some really decent range. The MKVI has 6 speakers that sound worse than a Fisher Price walkie-talkie. Even after upgrading speakers, the sound just isn't satisfying and all the doors have rattled the entire time I have owned it. I'm sure I could think of more but I won't bother. As soon as I break even, I'm trading it in, maybe sooner."
13 people out of 28 found this review helpful