Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000
  • 12 Best Family Cars of 2014
  • 10 Most Affordable Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000
Go

2012 Volkswagen Jetta

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.3

The new-in-2011 Volkswagen Jetta took the automotive media aback, while taking the U.S. consumer (seemingly) by storm. In its second model year, and with Jetta sales up some 70 percent in the first nine months of 2011, VW's strategy of lower prices, less content and more volume would seem to be the right one for a company hell-bent on tripling U.S. sales before the end of this decade. While Corolla intenders may be swayed by base Jettas selling for under $17K, enthusiasts might be reassured by the return of the Jetta GLI to the Volkswagen showroom. The GLI, which is to conventional Jettas what the GTI is to VW's iconic Golf, couldn't have come soon enough, as the only thing of even slight interest (in 2011) to an earlier Jetta enthusiast was the Jetta TDI.

You'll Like This Car If...

Despite its overture to the Corolla buyer, our U.S.-specific 2012 VW Jetta still provides a level of build quality and handling dynamic not typically provided by Korea or Japan. In short, it remains a more enthusiast-oriented entry in a rather civilian category. The argument for its consideration is bolstered considerably by the return of the GLI.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you've enjoyed the Jetta's historic mix of practicality and personality, then you will be dismayed by the maximizing of the former and minimizing of the latter. The newest Jetta isn't, to be sure, a German Corolla, but base models are lacking both character and content when compared to their predecessors, while those equipped with popular options very quickly lose their pricing competitiveness.

What's New for 2012

Having introduced in 2011 an all-new car with an all-new mantra, the 2012 VW Jetta GLI turbocharges the day with the return of the 2.0 liter DOHC Turbo in combination with a fully independent rear suspension and numerous interior upgrades. Beyond this big news is the addition of a new "S with Sunroof" Jetta, offering (you guessed it) a tilt-and-slide power glass sunroof; front center console with armrest and storage; and cruise control. Also, a new TDI Premium package includes a sunroof and Fender Premium Audio.

Driving the Jetta

Driving Impressions Given the range of price and powertrains, it's should come as no surprise that today's VW Jetta can generate as many impressions as it has derivatives. To its credit, Volkswagen...

tailors the Jetta platform to those powerplants. And to that end, the base Jetta - propelled by 115 horsepower - provides a ride-and-handling combination that sums up "base" pretty succinctly. It is comfortable and reasonably composed, but will win no bonus points for precision or agility. The Jetta with a 2.5-liter or diesel engine under the hood steps up the game with more composure and competence, but would still not fall into anyone's definition of recreational. That, of course, is saved for the 2012 Jetta GLI and its 2.0 liter turbocharged four. Despite sharing little of the Golf/GTI in its current DNA, the addition of the turbocharged 4-cylinder also includes upgraded suspension bits, better braking and improved rubber. It's a transformation. Finally, the grunt of the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel makes the Jetta diesel supremely relaxed - and amazingly efficient.

2.0L Diesel Power
With the proliferation of hybrid powertrains among mid-size sedans, we still think there remains a good argument for diesel, especially when offered at a mid-$20s price point. Great drivability, in combination with a 600-plus-mile range, makes the Jetta diesel a popular choice for those people putting real mileage on their personal cars.

DSG Gearbox
For those hoping to combine the engagement of a manual with the convenience of an automatic, stop worrying; VW has done it for you. The DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) employs two clutches and steering-wheel-mounted shifters to provide the perfect blend of git-up-and-go, whether it's on the open road or stop-and-go.

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Details
Interior

The big news for 2011 was, well, the big news; this is a Jetta four adults can sit comfortably in. The Jetta's longer wheelbase translated into considerably more interior volume (rear passengers can actually cross their legs!), while the more substantial roofline allows for more generous rear-seat headroom. In back, the Jetta trunk proffers a class-leading 15.5 cubic feet, which can be increased with the Jetta's split-folding rear seatback. As on the outside, the GLI interior provides key differentiation in the guise of sportier buckets, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminum foot pedals.

Exterior

Enthusiasts of the earlier Jetta will think this newest iteration has been beaten with a bland stick. Given that there isn't much to love, there isn't, by extension, much to dislike. The Jetta's overall profile is clean, although the more expansive sheet metal can easily dwarf the wheels if those wheels are the base 15-inchers. As Volkswagen notes, the GLI boasts a more dynamic look than the standard car, but that would be easy; in the same vein Lady Gaga is more dynamic than Lady Jane. The GLI benefits from a more distinctive honeycomb grille, deeper front spoiler, GTI-style foglights and red-coated brake calipers.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The entry-level 2012 VW Jetta essentially defines "base" in the model spectrum. At its launch the hook was an under-$16K window sticker plus destination. This year that figure starts $500 higher, but remains a bargain when compared to Jetta pricing just two years ago. That said, the standard spec is well behind what is typically offered on a domestic showroom (Chevy's Cruze) or Korean showroom (Hyundai's Elantra/Kia's Forte). Power is supplied by your father's 4-cylinder, a 2.0-liter, 8-valve lump producing but 115 horsepower. A/C, power windows/locks, basic radio with CD and remote keyless entry sum up the significant equipment. To VW's credit, it also provides a full complement of standard safety features, including electronic stability control and VW's ICRS, which automatically unlocks all doors, disables the fuel pump and turns on all interior lights once airbags have been deployed.

Optional Equipment

With a budget of $25K we'd be torn between the 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel with Premium and Navigation or the reintroduced 2.0T GLI, sporting the very visceral 2.0-liter Turbo, more aggressive suspension and those visual enhancements that tie an owner in with all that's happening automotively. VW's diesel is a sweet spot in the compact/mid-size segment, providing miles and smiles with abundant torque and 40-plus mpg on the highway. With its 2.0-liter turbocharged four, the GLI combines open-road performance with track-biased agility.

Under the Hood

From its entry-level – and antiquated – 4-cylinder to a pedestrian in-line five and responsive turbocharged diesel and gas, the 2012 Jetta has seemingly something for everyone. The base 2.0 is, of course, the price point car, while the 170 horsepower offered by the in-line five makes for a pleasant, and still efficient, commute. As noted, we'll take the 2.0 TDI Jetta or 2.0T offered in the new GLI. Both 2.0-liter powertrains are fun and efficient; the gasoline variant is more fun, the diesel more efficient.

2.0-liter in-line 4
115 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 (manual), 24/32 (automatic)

2.5-liter in-line 5
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 (manual), 24/31 (automatic)

2.0-liter in-line 4, turbocharged (GLI only)
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33 (manual), 24/32 (automatic)

2.0-liter in-line 4, turbodiesel
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 (manual), 30/42 (automatic)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 243 Ratings for the 2011 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.6/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.5/10

Audi A4 performance for VW Price Tag

By on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Sporty yet practical, premium feel for less $$"

Cons: "Missing a few top notch refinements and features"

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

"I recently traded my high performance Volvo S60R for a 2013 VW GLI. I was hesitant because I had become spoiled by the Volvo's amazing power, luxury options and overall attention to clean design detail. I spent countless hours doing research and decided to test drive a few cars, the 2013 GLI being one of them. I was immediately impressed with the sporty feel of the GLI, the handling and tight road feel were right up my alley, and finding a manual transmission excited me as well. The small details like the red stitching, ergonomically friendly layout of instruments (typical VW) and overall "feel" of the car convinced me to make the purchase. I was surprised by the rear legroom in this car, it is HUGE compared to other cars I looked at. It has more room than the Mercedes E class! I LOVE this car and it is a JOY to drive every day. The only slight drawbacks are: * Small Navigation screen (that said, the "heads up" display in the center panel keeps your eyes forward) * Driver seat adjustments-- lacking lumbar support and the ability to raise or lower the FRONT of the seat itself, I tend to prefer the back of the seat low but the front raised for a more supportive feeling * Rain sensing wipers: I loved this feature on my 6 year older Volvo-- spoiled I know, but I suppose I will get used to it * Multi-disc changer: again, spoiled by the Volvo I suppose Overall, I'd buy this car again in a heartbeat. It is just the right mix of practical and sporty for me."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Not worth the price

By on Friday, November 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "Great gas mileage"

Cons: "Uncomfortable, hard to see, bad design, cheap."

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

"I purchased this car less than six months ago and I actually hate it! I have attempted to get another car and was told this car was worth almost $10,000.00 less than I paid for it. I did my research and I got a good deal based on the KBB ratings. I am livid with VW. This car is so uncomfortable to drive, it jerks when acceleration is needed quickly, like oncoming traffic. The NAV system is hard to use and clunky, sound system is only fair and the sun roof is built in such a way that the sun shines directly into your eyes when its open. The seats are hard, hard to adjust and cheap material. Visibility is poor as it sits so low to the ground. Also, the diesel engine hates the cold and creaks and squeeks all the time. The only redeeming quality of this car is the gas mileage, which is very good."

8 people out of 16 found this review helpful

In love with my Jetta

By on Friday, November 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "interior, quickness, price, sleekness, hands-free"

Cons: "sound system needs upgrading"

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

"I previously owned Honda's and Dodge's, this is my first VW. I must say I am very impressed with the Turbo engine, and the Connectivity features. This car is much more than I expected! My ONLY complaint would be that it doesnt have the smooth ride like my Dodge, but it is smoother than my Honda Civic. Between the gas mileage, the roomy interior, the clean sleek dash, the quickness of the engine, and the heated extremely comfortable seats, this is my all tie favorite car! Well worth the $$, and will probably buy another VW in the future!!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Love It :) This car is my Baby

By on Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great Drive, Quiet, amazing Handling, Price"

Cons: "Leatherette is Required on an SE"

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

Her Name is Lucy :)

"I purchased this vehicle under Volkswagens First time buyer program at the age of 18. I Absolutely love this car. I highly recommend going with the SE over the S model and there are a few reasons to that. The SE comes with Leatherette seats (which I am not a fan of, but it helps resale value) as well as a higher stereo system, and cruise control! I priced out an S with cruise control (approx. $800 extra) an that was set me to get the SE based on price. Why not get more, for a little more right? Overall I have driven this car to South Dakota, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. So with that said she has seen all types of terrain. This car is a front wheel drive, but has no problem in the snow and rain or even in the mountains. Which was a major concern when I purchased the vehicle. As of right now, I don't know that I will ever drive another car that is not a Volkswagen. They really know how to make a car. The ride is impeccable. The road noise is non existent. The motor is so quiet sometimes I don't even know if my car is running."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Her Name is Lucy :)

vinyl seats cheap looking

By on Saturday, November 01, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,800

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
3/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "expected more quality for the price of this car"

Cons: "cheap vinyl seats"

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

"small things continue to need fixing, not as depending as toyotas I had for many years. Next car will be toyota again, not VW. Disappointed in quality."

6 people out of 14 found this review helpful

A Great Value For The Money

By on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price, fun to drive, roomy, quiet, comfy"

Cons: "no temp gauge, prop rod for hood"

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

"I now have over 7000 miles on my SE and it drives great! The ride is firm, quiet and comfortable. On a recent trip to the coast we got 39-40 mpg on the highway. My highest mileage was 41.3 and I average 33-34 to and from work. Exterior and interior appearance is simple and functional. I'm not a big "whistles and bells" guy so this car was a perfect fit. The new 1.8T engine has plenty of pep The 6 speed Tiptronic is set up to keep the rpm's low but will get peppy as the gas pedal is pushed. Very roomy. Drives like more expensive car."

42 people out of 73 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?