By on June 15, 2010

It’s all speculation until we get official pricing from VW of North America, but according to Autoblog, the new Jetta will be priced starting “around $16,000″ when it shows up stateside this October. With Chevy’s Cruze starting at $16,995, we face an interesting prospect: VW’s entry sedan might well be cheaper than Chevrolet’s. Of course the base Jetta will continue to be saddled with its predecessor’s agricultural 2.5 liter, but the Cruze’s base 1.8 hasn’t exactly earned many accolades either. Of course the base Cruze comes with a goodly amount of equipment, but it’s got an uphill fight on its hands if the more desirably-branded Jetta pips it on pure price point.

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52 Comments on “2011 VW Jetta: Cheaper Than The Chevy Cruze?...”


  • avatar

    I have entered the Chevrolet Cruze into TrueDelta’s database, so it is now possible to run apples-to-apples price comparisons here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/prices.php

    I’ll write up a complete analysis this week. For now, suffice it to say that the Cruze actually undercuts the Cobalt once you adjust for content.

  • avatar
    crc

    If the styling doesn’t turn you away, that price should give you pause. There is a reason why the Jetta might be that relatively cheap.

  • avatar
    Carlos Villalobos

    Dear Edward:
    Why do you say the 2.5 is agricultural?
    At least for me works fine

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      The 2.5 is noisy and unrefined, like the five-cylinder in the Chevrolet Colorado. To add insult to injury, it doesn’t really perform any better or get better mileage than a four-cylinder in an Accord or Camry, but it’s noisier.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      It’s heavy (cast iron block), not very frugal and delivers it’s power like a push rod relic. But its cheap to make – thus the $16K price tag.

      This has nothing to do with the fact that it has five cylinders (it’s a myth that an uneven cylinder count makes for a harsh engine – it’s lousy engineering). There have been other Audi/VW 5cyl engines that have been both smooth and refined.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      It’s an old-fashioned engine for people who can’t be trusted to maintain the more modern ones properly – that is why it’s standard in NA.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Honda doesn’t seem to have any trouble selling modern, reliable engines in this country.

    • 0 avatar
      hakata

      It’s true. You have to regularly add oil to the ultra-modern 2.0T to replace the stuff it burns. The Jetta’s under-35 demo is too young to remember when this was a normal part of car ownership.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    You don’t get something for nothing, and I’m pretty dubious about a ‘decontented’ VW…they can barely get the reliability to a competitive level charging full price, so what corners were cut to cheapen this thing out?

    Well for one, the interior (guages, dash) look cheaper, plastics overall not as refined, etc. I don’t understand how in the hell VW thinks it can beat the Koreans (or anybody else for that matter) at value for money…they should stick with selling the Euro styling/handling/prestige factor and undercut BMW/Mercedes/Audi/Volvo on price and concentrate on owning the entry-level Euro-market in the U.S.

    Yuppies and young urbanites don’t buy VW’s because they are cheaper than Chevys, in fact, that’s going to damage the brand in the U.S. I think…they buy/lease VWs because they offer Euro prestige/sophistication/cool at a discount price compared to BMW/Mercedes. And most ‘Mom and Pop suburbanites’ aren’t gonna give up the familiar reliability of their Japenese/and now Korean sedans, or give up their ‘buy American Patriotism Malibus/Fusions’ and take a chance on high maintenance costs with a Euro car…

    I just don’t think Americans want cheap(ened) Volkwagens…the days of the (original) Beetle are looooong over…those former hippies are all parents/ or even grandparents now, and have moved on.

  • avatar
    Carlos Villalobos

    The way I see it I have half of a Lamborghini engine.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think for the average American non-enthusiast buyer, the 5 is just fine. Works quite nicely with the automatic. The overwhelming majority of Americans can’t find full-throttle with a GPS, so the high rev noise is irrelavent. I do think it is stupid that at the moment VW doesn’t even give you the option of getting a more interesting gas engine. For 2010, it is 5cyl or TDI only.

    And I find it hilarious that folks are saying the restrained looks are going to hurt sales. This will be the best looking car in its segment. The Japanese competition are all wierd swoops and cut lines, and the Koreans are just ugly. This car looks exactly like a German car should, restrained, elegant, and expensive (even if it isn’t particulary). That $16K price will be a teaser to get you in the door, just like the current $17.5K Jetta S. Most that they sell will be close to $20K. Just adding the near-mandatory autotragic will probably cost $1500.

    As to the mythic VW relibility or lack there-of, all I can say is I have owned a bunch of them, and I know plenty of folks with them (including my sainted Mother) and none have had anything like a bad ownership experience. So I guess Maine is just the land that VWs like or something.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      While the new Jetta has clean/simple lines and isn’t a daring, polarizing design, it is too reminiscent of turn of the century designs.

      VW could certainly have made the exterior design a bit bolder (or at least more aggressive) like the Scirroco (most people on the VW forum gives it a thumbs down for blandness) – but cost probably played a role in the design.

      As for being the “best looking car in its segment” – most people would probably say the new (well, for the US anyways) Ford Focus.

      And it’s funny that you say the Koreans are ugly since the new Jetta looks remarkedly like the outgoing Kia Optima from the side and rear (also, I’d say the Koup version of the Forte is a better design overall and the new Elantra blows the Jetta out of thw water design-wise).

  • avatar
    Emro

    you think the 2.5 is agricultural… wait til you try the base 115-hp 2.0 carried over from the Mk4! I don’t know how that engine is going to even move the Mk6.

  • avatar
    aenea

    You actually have to pay more to get your hands on a 2.5 engine in this car.

    The base car is coming with the 2.0 115 hp 2.slow engine. The TDI engine isn’t supposed to show up until January, and the 2.0 turbo GLI is even further off.

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      Got a link for that? In the US the 2.5 is the base motor.

      EDIT: NM, I found it on VWVortex. The 2.0 wasn’t really such a bad motor. It wasn’t all that fast on the highway but it did fine in all other situations (based on my experiences with a 2003 Golf).

  • avatar
    blowfish

    This has nothing to do with the fact that it has five cylinders (it’s a myth that an uneven cylinder count makes for a harsh engine – it’s lousy engineering). There have been other Audi/VW 5cyl engines that have been both smooth and refined.

    Then why would they not use a Tried & Trued old 5 cyl Audi/ VW engine from the past?
    They use the 5cyl 2.5 on the VW vans.
    The old Audi 5000s were 2.1 , 2.2

    Wonder why they didnt use an old 4 cyl with turbo, that would yield as much HP as a 2.5 5 cyl.
    Sometimes the Germans’ logic are hard to comprehend.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      They also used a V5 (the VR6 engine with 1 cylinder removed) in the last gen Jetta in Asia.

      My guess is the older engines don’t pass emission standards and they needed a cheap engine with low end torque for the US market.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “agricultural 2.5 liter” –> I will adopt this phrase.

    Five cylinder engines should be outlawed due to their inherent imbalance and acoustic dissonance. I prefer a 4 or 6 any time over a 5.

  • avatar
    Rada

    VW should adopt the business model of camera and printer manufacturers – sell the cars for a small, purely symbolic price, and charge for parts and labor. Then, it just might be successful in the NA.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I have a 2010 Golf (2.5, 5 speed manual) and agree that the fuel economy of the 5-cylinder is mediocre at best, but I find the engine to be very smooth and quiet. I tested a bunch of different cars before buying this one (Mazda3, Civic, Soul, Fit, etc.) and found the Golf to be the quietest and smoothest of the bunch at freeway speeds. It’s also a torquey engine and more than adequate for the commuting duty I put it through. I do about 50 miles per day mostly on the freeway. I average around 27-28 mpg… it’s hot around here, so I run the A/C a lot. I was getting around 30 mpg when it was cooler and I was comfortable without the A/C. Not horrendous, but not stellar, either, given than I’m not driving in anger.

    I really wanted the TDi, but given the dealer markups on the diesels combined with huge discounts and financing specials on the regular Golf, I figured that the $8k I was saving would pay for a lot of gas.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Yeah…but a 4 banger and 6 banger sound like utter garbage compared to a V8.

    And that is a big reason why I will not buy anything that does not have a V8.

    I wish I can say that too, I love to have a 560 sel, but the voracious appetite for Benzenes is totally unreal, even the small 300se’s trip to the gas pump was very painful, none the less.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      Eh, V-8′s are incredibly pedestrian compared to proper engines like the V-10 and V-12.

      :-P

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      V10 or V12? How common! You’re not talking real motors till you’re talking about a sweet V16! LOL!

      Anyway I wouldn’t worry about a low VW price for the Jetta. You will pay them a lot more money later – on the repair bills. They can’t even make a car more reliable than the Detroit 3.

  • avatar
    340-4

    And which one will be cheaper to own based on repairs and longevity, particularly if an automatic?

    Chevrolet, hands down.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    They’re sticking with the five cylinder until they get the kinks worked out of their new V-7.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The Cruze actually starts at $16275 plus 720 destination for 16995. VW isn’t saying if the around 16K price includes destination which I doubt so in the end I would bet both cars are going to be close in price. The Cruze will also offer more standard equipment such as 10 airbags, full power, 6 speed stick etc.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    The Jetta outblands and outchintzes the Cruze in nearly every way. That is a truly amazing feat! Couple that with legendary VW unreliability, you have a VW response to the Cobalt and Sebring.

  • avatar

    Well, at least the Cruze is better than the Cobalt.

    Sigh…

    If it fails it won’t be an American failure since it was engineered by Daewoo.

    Sigh…

    Daewoo….

    Sigh………

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    “And which one will be cheaper to own based on repairs and longevity, particularly if an automatic?

    Chevrolet, hands down.”

    Except for depreciation you could be correct.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      You’re right on depreciation. I hadn’t thought of that.

      I still harbor bitter feelings towards VW from my brief ownership of a ‘new’ 2001.5 Passat.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I owned 3 five cylinder Audis. They were smooth enough, since 5 divides into 360 degrees evenly, but only the last one in an ’88 4000 quattro was quiet.

    My boss leased a Jetta with the 2.5 four years ago, and driving it, my immediate impression was that it aced the old Audi 5 cylinder engines in quietness and especially, smoothness. Have never understood the criticisms of it.

    He got just last week a new Golf TDi wagon. A very nicely made car indeed, although, in this case, all the rubbish I’ve read say that you can’t tell it’s a diesel. No mistaking that rattle and zizz! Makes my Subaru’s throb sound barely audible. And it’s nowhere near as smooth.

    But one hell of a nice car anyway, that TDi. Great paint job, too.

    So, is the 2011 Jetta going to have an utterly de-contented interior? Because, if not, it’ll make everything else at anywhere near the money look and feel incredibly cheap.

    Since nothing went wrong with the 2006 Jetta, other than a false check engine light once, and despite my always asking him how it was behaving due to reading all this stuff on the Internet about VW unreliability, my anecdotal experience is that VWs are OK.

    He’s had a ’95 Golf, ’03 Golf, ’06 Jetta and now this Golf Tdi wagon. Nothing major has ever gone wrong with any of them, not a thing except rubber weatherseals. He treats them like crap, too.

    I might be tempted next time, because these VW cars drive very well indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      We have a ’97 VW Cabrio. It’s got 170K miles on it. A few things have broken but everything has been cheap to fix. If you rely on a mechanic for every little thing as I suspect a large number of new VW buyers do – it could be expensive but I change my own oil, my own power steering pumps ($125), a/c compressors ($218 from the 1stVWParts dealer), and a myriad of little cheap things. I cringe when I hear friends, family and coworkers report their repair costs ($750 for an electrical problem on a 12,000 mile Corvette, $300 for minor Ford Escort repairs, $200+ brake jobs, etc).

      My Cabrio averages less than a single used car payment in repairs each year despite it’s “advanced age”.

      The new Jetta is really good looking. Our next family hauler will be a Jetta wagon TDI w/ manual tranny. Other candidates are the CR-V or Mazda 5 minivan. The Jetta wagon is really a nice size and look. Love that 48 mpg without the Star Trek technology of a hybrid though I’d love to see a diesel hybrid somebody!!!

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      @wmba judging from the list of cars your boss has had from VW (I count three different cars in the last 7 years), he hasn’t kept them long enough to judge the reliability. Maybe he knows the key is to get out of one and into another before the warranty expires?

      @joeaverage, your response seems to be typical of people who defend VW reliability. To paraphrase, it’s been great. Well, except for the power steering pumps (I noted the plural) the a/c compressors (another plural, and “a myriad of other things” that aren’t that bad since you fix them all yourself. For a Japanese car owner, that simply doesn’t spell reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      To xyzzy – I mistyped – I have not had to repeat any repairs. None. My Honda has been A++ for 198K miles, the VW has not been A++, perhaps B- but at least it has been cheap to maintain despite it’s advanced age. I still prefer the way how the car does what it does. I have owned plenty of other brands to compare it to. I like it’s size and the way it drives. The styling on my car is good for a 13 year old car.

      For the 2.Slow crowd – the engine is easy to drive and plenty of torque so I’m not shifting down on every hill. No, not a great drag racer engine. Plenty of fun to drive.

      I’m not going to apologize to anyone who doesn’t like the VWs. If it isn’t the brand you prefer then my all means go find whatever floats your boat.

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      @joeaverage, I may agree with you more than you think. If VW is your thing then you’re willing to overlook or at least put up with problems a Honda owner would find unacceptable, especially if you go into it with eyes open. My “problem” is that I’ve always owned Japanese (a Toyota, a Nissan, a Maxda and a Lexus, the latter two of which I still own) and they have all been bulletproof. So I am used to and expect a certain level of reliability that is much higher than some others are used to. I like VWs but have not been able to convince myself the reliability risk us worth the benefits. The fact that I live in the sticks and any trip to a repair shop is a major logistical undertaking for family also plays into my attitude.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    Even if the Jetta has low content at $16.9K, it’ll be a steal vs the Daewoo Cruze. All recent VWs are solid German road cars…i.e. my son’s 2006.5 Mark V Rabbit nee Golf (yes, WITH the 2.5L). Almost trouble free in 3.5 years of ownership and solid as a rock at 100mph +.

    In fact, with VWs 6 speed Tiptronic AT, I ran 85-100mph for the good part of a recent 250 mile trip in the Rabbit. Mileage was still over 27.5 mpg as the gearing and torque are awesome in this setup…Hard as it is to believe, at 100mph you are turning ONLY 2900rpm yet so still can accelerate due to the torquey nature of the 2.5.

    C & D had it right when they said a VW Rabbit “pours itself down the road” vs the typical compact I4s. The 2.5L is a pretty cool engine in my book. Tractor-ish yes, but effective and different.

    Of course I haven’t driven it – but I’d be shocked if the Cruze was even in the same league as cars like the Jetta (or competitors like the upcoming new generation Hyundai Elantra).

  • avatar
    Revver

    In my 2009 Jetta I got a car that was considerably better than the Japanese competition for equal money. More power, more interior room, larger trunk, better driving dynamics. I have to imagine, those complaining about the engine have either never driven one, are not comparing the engine to its competitive class, or both.

    Oh, two years of ownership, 100% trouble free.

    The only thing keeping sales down are VW’s prior (and deserved) reliability issues, and terrible marketing.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I can’t help but wonder how many people bashing the VW 5 have ever been in car with one. I suspect that it’s a self-propogating/bandwagon thing.

      As far as fuel economy goes – the us gov sight rates it as well as Mazda’s 2.5 4 cylinder and 1 mpg worse than the Forte 2.4.

      This is a 170hp engine, so we shouldn’t be comparing it to Civic and Corolla 4 cylinders for efficiency.

  • avatar
    tedward

    close…but no base 2.5

    instead, it’ll be the old 2.0 (of no turbo relation) as the base at $16k. After that it’s the 2.5, 2.0T and 2.0tdi. The 2.0T is the one with IRS in GLI trim. All come with manual and auto transmissions, but the turbo motors get DSG instead of a slushbox.

    I’m not sure but I think that drums are reserved for the base 2.0.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    I’d like to chime in on all of the VW quality comments in this thread. Full disclosure: I had a 2000 MkIV Jetta GLS VR6 that was quite possibly the worst car on the planet. VW probably rues selling me the car and the extended warranty (2 year/24k warranty standard at the time) because not only did they pay out close to $12,000 in warranty repairs over the lifetime of the car, I successfully sued Volkswagen of America and received a $5,000 settlement.

    It was truly a horrific, horrific ownership experience. But, being a glutton, I next moved into a MK IV R32 which was flawless from day one until I sold it, barring rear wheel bearings which failed prematurely at 20,000 miles.

    My 2006 A3 has been very reliable and friends who have a 2007 Jetta, 2008 Golf and a 2009 Jetta TDI respectively have had zero problems so far.

    So my (admittedly anectodal) point is this: Volkswagen had some SHITTY cars in their day, but based on personal and near-personal experience, I would say that they have definitely turned the corner. They may not yet be at Honda quality levels, but have definitely improved.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    My dad’s 2003 Jetta wagon with the 1.8 T has been pretty darned reliable, surprise surprise. I don’t know if it has anything to do with his driving habits – he doesn’t really drive it hard and it doesn’t have a lot of mileage on it (about 60K).

  • avatar
    George B

    Just rented a Jetta with a 2.5L 5 cylinder for 2 weeks. It was fairly fun to drive and didn’t feel cheap. A relatively simple interior design executed well combined with soft touch plastic goes a long way toward making the Jetta not look or feel like an economy car. I wasn’t excited about the exterior styling of the 2010 and hope the 2011 looks better.

    joeaverage, if a car requires a new power steering pump or a new air-conditioning compressor in it’s first decade, it’s not that reliable. In 2010 a reliable car just requires fluid changes, filters, brake pads, and new tires in the first 10 years. Ask a Camry owner about replacing a power steering pump and you’ll get a confused “I didn’t know they wore out” reaction. Unplanned repairs are a major inconvenience for people who depend on their car.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    xyzzy – not very happy with my car this week. Strange goings on with the alarm and power windows. After some head scratching it turns out the alarm module has gone bad. $15 used or $125 from the dealer. Plug in fix. Now the average person would have been really soaked for this repair and would be rightfully upset. No way would a dealer let them out the door for $125 plus tax. I figure the repair would take the dealer an hour or more. It took me 20 minutes.

    Better yet I can bypass this alarm and retain the power locks and windows for the price of 3 inches of number ten wire. It’s a $2000 car at this point. I’m going to put up with some – ah, character. LOL!

    George B – my car was about 165K miles and 12 years old when the power steering and a/c needed repairs. Not Honda bulletproof by any means. If I was reliant on a mechanic I would have been really disappointed b/c of the cost of mechanic labor and shop parts. It was a $2500 car back then. I compare that to the $700 a/c repair my grandmother paid for on her 65,000 mile Buick. Less than $300 for VW dealer parts isn’t bad – compressor and dryer. I installed them myself.

    So yes I am making allowances for this vehicle but keep in mind it’s resale value ($2K), it’s age (13 years), and it’s mileage (going on 170K miles).

    Now here is the conundrum. I’m making excuses for a car that I like while not being willing to do the same with a Detroit vehicle which ought to make it as far as a Detroit product with similar repair needs. I want to buy a Detroit vehicle next time but nothing really appeals to me like my import favorites. Tough for me to damn Detroit too loudly for making products nearly the same quality as VW products that appeal to me. Sure wish Detroit built some interesting wagons with interesting drivetrains.

    Yeah, I’ll still be looking at a Jetta wagon TDI next time. With a manual tranny.

  • avatar
    roverman

    I also wonder how many people who bash the 5-cylinder engine as crude, agricultural, and loud have actually driven a newer VW with this engine? I just replaced my 2000 Jetta (2.0L) with a new 2010 Jetta. The new engine is very quiet, very smooth, and has plenty of power. It does have an iron block, but that bodes well for durability. It is a modern engine with drive-by-wire throttle, DOHC with variable intake valve timing, and Motronic engine control system. I regularly drive my folks vehicles as well…a Mercedes E320 wagon, a Land Rover LR3 V8, and, of course, a Volkswagen EuroVan. The EuroVan has a 2.8L VR6 engine, DOHC 24V…201hp, 181lb-ft. The smaller 5-cylinder in my Jetta only makes 4-lb-ft less torque. That engine is way noisier and thrashy-sounding than the new Jetta. And while the Mercedes 6 and Rover 8 cylinder engines are very smooth, the Jetta 5 is definitely in the league with them. So again, I’m at a loss of what people are saying about this engine. One thing to note is that the saleman did tell me the new 2011 model Jettas were seriously cheapened compared to the mark 5 models. But still, I imagine, in another league compared to the lowly Cruze and Korean junk.

  • avatar
    almprin06

    Leather seats (or V-Tec or whatever the heck it is) is as waste of effort and money in this class of car – not to mention hot, sticky, and annoying. Be better to use cloth across the board and install a fuel efficient 140 HP regular-octane-gasoline 4-cyl.

    Toyota gets about 140 HP out of its 1.8 – go knows why Volkswagen insists on some ancient, inefficient, underpowered 2.0 liter. Geez.

    VW consistently only makes a half-effort in the US…and the reliability and service will probably still stink.

    The new, excellent Chevy Cruze will easily outsell the Jetta 5 to 1.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    So how much of it it leather and how much of it is vinyl. On my current 13 year old VW the surfaces that touch me are supposed to be leather. The rest is vinyl.

    I have one car which is cloth and the VW is leather. I see some serious advantages to both. For one I don’t worry about sweating on the leather like I do on the cloth seats. Flip side, cloth is warmer in winter.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    So how much of it it leather and how much of it is vinyl. On my current 13 year old VW the surfaces that touch me are supposed to be leather. The rest is vinyl.

    I have one car which is cloth and the VW is leather. I see some serious advantages to both. For one I don’t worry about sweating on the leather like I do on the cloth seats. Flip side, cloth is warmer in winter.

    These days I’m leaning towards the pleather as the seat coverings of choice.


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