2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Assembled in Mexico, the sixth generation Jetta is now more oriented towards American carports than German Autobahns. To do that, Jetta has grown up in size and appearance, while moving down market in features and price. No longer a premium compact, this Jetta is aimed right at America’s small car favorites, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.
The Jetta’s new look is sleeker if still conservative, with VW’s drop jaw grille replaced by more subdued openings. A three inch longer wheelbase provides more interior space, as the cabin does feel more mid-size than compact, with class leading rear seat leg room.
While at first glance the dash layout looks familiar, designing to a lower price means replacing soft materials with harder, shinier plastics. The Jetta’s base engine is also less than expected, a vintage 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 115 horsepower. Fortunately, most cars will use a carryover 170-horsepower 2.5-liter 5 cylinder with a 32 mile per gallon highway rating. A TDI diesel, GLI turbo, and Jetta Hybrid will come later.
The 2.5-liter proved plenty powerful during our preview drive in Northern California. And, despite moving backwards from an all-independent suspension to a twist-beam rear, a less flexible stability control system, and standard rear drum brakes, the new Jetta is very entertaining to drive. It also remains more of a driver’s car than the bulk of it’s Asian competition.
“It’s pretty amazing that Volkswagen can offer this much car, for under $17,000. The new Jetta is proof that Volkswagen is serious about selling a lot of cars here in the U.S.” – Brian Robinson
VW wants to increase U.S. car sales to 800,000 a year, as it strives to become the world’s largest carmaker. The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is certainly a step in that direction.
2.5-liter 5 cylinder
Starts under $17,000