When you think of affordable compact sedans on the market today, the Volkswagen Jetta doesn’t immediately spring to mind. With the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla dominating that segment, there doesn’t seem to be much room for another contender, especially another one from overseas. That’s changing with the newly redesigned 2011 model, which was modified specifically to boost sales in the North American market. The Jetta makes up for about half of VW’s sales in the States, and the 2011 model really needs to be something special to exceed the 100,000 units sold just last year. Luckily, the new 2011 Jetta is bigger, roomier, more sophisticated and, gasp! less expensive than the outgoing model. Looks like this will be another successful Jetta generation.
What's to Like
For 2011 Jetta has been redesigned with all-new styling, a larger exterior and interior and a new four-cylinder engine. It still handles like a VW but now has the size and space of its competitors at the same cost. The designers even fixed the old Jetta’s front grille, as not to be confused with the Corolla anymore.
What's Not to Like
The interior feels cheap, even in this class. The navigation screen is smaller than most, and the system leaves much to be desired. In addition, the automatic door locks don’t automatically unlock. If you jump out to grab a bag or briefcase from the back seat and it’s locked, you must reach to the driver’s door the hit the unlock button first.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
On a twisty mountain road, there’s only a moderate amount of body roll and the steering feels neutral. The VW is sharper than anything in the class, with a balanced and connected ride quality that eludes some of the Japanese competition, no questions asked. That said, the feeling of security isn’t as prevalent as in a sports sedan. The popular engine choice is 170 hp five-cylinder 2.5 engine-liter, which provides a significant boost of power over the smaller 2.0-liter. While we’d like a little more oomph, on occasion, with the smaller engine, the Jetta is a fine everyday car, especially for the price.
Engine and Drivetrain
For the sixth generation, the Jetta offers a total of five trim levels (S, SE, SEL, TDI and the soon-to-come GLI) and four different engines - a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four, a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter inline five, a 140-horsepower four-cylinder turbodiesel TDI and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged TSI for the GLI. All have a standard manual transmission. Available on the S, SE, and SEL is a conventional automatic transmission and a DSG is available on the TSI and TDI models.