By on August 15, 2008

The VW oil burner has landed! Again. Only better. (courtesy the past five years, Volkswagen has had its pants around its ankles. Gas tripled in price, Al Gore invented the environment and the brand once known for frugality didn’t have US products that could compete on fuel economy. Volkswagen’s diesel-powered Jetta and Passat weren’t even legal in VW-friendly California, NY and Massachusetts. After miles of regulatory legwork, VW brought one of its new generation European diesels up to fifty-state compliance. The Jetta 2.0 TDI hits dealers this fall. So is it The One?

The only change is underhood. This means the Jetta TDI looks like a regular Jetta. And that means it looks like a Corolla. Cut to the chase: this generation of VW’s best-selling product will never muster the charisma of the past model with its tidy mini-luxe styling. But it’s certainly no worse than the look of the cheese-wedge Civic or botoxed Focus. Just don’t mention the Mazda3.

The TDI’s interior is fine; it’s nice, it’s well built, it’s a list of mediocre compliments. Next?

And? (courtesy you’ve been car-aware since the Mark V Jetta debuted four years ago, none of this is news. Nor is the fact that VW offers a diesel engine. But while VW sold the 1.9-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel for the past several years, you may not know the 1.9’s history.

This 100 horsepower oil burner was first built in 1820. The metalsmith used bronze, and then died from boredom. Although VW has been selling the 1.9 as a car engine of late, in the 1920s it was marketed as a “Clatterynoisedervish;” a device designed exclusively for frightening pigeons. And though the 1.9 could deliver some 40+ MPG highway, it was mostly out of necessity; if you stopped for fuel, you ran the risk of your passengers refusing to get back into the car.

They sell you the engine and throw in the car for free. And now the good news: the Jetta’s new diesel engine. The TDI makes none of the deafening knocks, clanks or clapping sounds that lead you to think that you’re in a badly-disguised delivery van. It sounds like a boring luxury car inside, and only ever-so-slightly louder from the outside (at idle). The 2.0-liter common rail turbocharged oil burner makes 140 horsepower and a “suck my particulates, Civic” 236 lb·ft of torque. For reference, the 2.0-liter turbo gas engine in this writer’s GTI only stumps-up 207 lb·ft of twist.

Better yet, the Jetta TDI is nearly as much fun to drive as the GTI. Wipe up that nose-ejected coffee off your keyboard. In Europe, VW cranks this engine to 170 horsepower to create the GTI’s kid brother, the Golf GT.

Obviously, the diesel engine doesn’t parallel the slap-happy enthusiasm of the GTI’s mill. Nor can it rev as high; the TDI redlines at 4500 rpm. But the oil burner’s punch is smoother and more linear than its petrol-powered equivalent. There’s no slingshot effect. You just woooooosh from 30 to 60 mph without an ounce of effort. Plowing through highway traffic, hammering around tight corners, and sprinting up a hill, it’s a thoroughly willing powerplant. You get a fairly quick-revving mill without sacrificing the surging power you like. At any speed.

A few warranty-killing mods and you\'re good to go! The suspension is more forgiving than in the GTI, but it’s still taut. As a result, you give up very little in terms of handling versus VW’s hot hatch. Seriously. The Jetta TDI rides a little like it sits on a safe, predictable, controllable Merc platform, but with sharp turn-in and genuine steering feedback.

Both transmission choices—the six-speed stick or the six-speed DSG (paddle shift flappy thingy with a full auto mode)—are superb options. The DSG is perfectly matched to the oil burning engine, keeping you in the meat of the powerband at all times. The cog-swapper may not surprise and delight Hondaphiles, but it’s easy enough to drop in the slot, to access the TDI’s tower of power.

A rare bird? (courtesy the Jetta TDI dynamics with a comparably priced Civic, Corolla, Camry or Accord is like bringing a professional debt collector—with his pillowcase full of doorknobs—to a fist fight. Of course, there’s the MSRP vs. mileage vs. price-of-diesel-fuel debate. If you’re seriously crunching numbers, you likely don’t want this car. Besides, as Mr. Lang will tell you, buying any new car isn’t frugal.

My argument for the Jetta TDI is simple: at $23K it’s cheaper than a Jetta GLI, almost as much fun, and you’ve got to stop for fuel less often. Well, never, obviously; and the GLI and GTI require high-test. The Jetta TDI is also rolling vindication for all those American pistonheads who pointed at Europe’s oil burners and said, see? See? But is the Jetta TDI VW’s NA’s savior? Are you kidding? They’ll sell 17 of them. But those 17 owners will be thrilled.

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169 Comments on “2009 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI Review...”

  • avatar

    I want one! Seriously. I love my Subaru but I like the idea of the spacious cabin, 600+ miles to a tank of fuel AND being fun to drive… worth it only depends on your price for fun!

    • 0 avatar

      I bought a 2009 Jetta TDI during cash for clunckers.  Not only did I get 4500 for my trade that was worth 1500, but 1350 tax rebate for buying an efficient clean diesel.  Before purchasing this vehicle I was working for a VW dealership and new this new engine was coming.  People were coming from two states away to purchase VW diesels.  This car gets 34 mpg with stop and go driving and I have already logged almost 50mpg on highway trips.  The other consideration to purchase this car vs the honda or toyota comes at resale.  The TDI’s hold value like none other!  I have seen these purchased for a rediculous amount of money when 5 years old and have 90k miles.  The handeling is fantastic and passing during city or highway driving is great.  I was not a diesel fan before, but now I’m hooked!

  • avatar

    “But the oil burner’s punch is smoother and more linear than its ICE equivalent.”

    Uh, doesn’t ICE mean Internal Combustion Engine? Diesel is one too…

  • avatar

    Justin – no comments about observed fuel economy?

    With all the controversy and VW getting its own peeps to provide numbers to counter EPA claims, I would loved to hear what you noticed.

    Having said that – this car needs to be $19k not $23k.

  • avatar

    I agree with mxfive4. I’d love to see a little diesel (even better — wagon) under the $20k mark. I’d also like to see fuel economy reports, esp on highway cruising at various speeds. For $20k+ I’d rather have the luxury/size/fuel economy of a passat tdi. My friends wife has one and not only does it get fantastic mileage, but it is super comfortable!

  • avatar

    Garak :

    “But the oil burner’s punch is smoother and more linear than its ICE equivalent.”

    Uh, doesn’t ICE mean Internal Combustion Engine? Diesel is one too…

    What WAS I thinking? My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Isn’t it curious the writers above want a nearly perfect diesel to be under $20K. But they will give Prius $25K+ and Volt $40K+. The only true comparison here is take the small gas engine from either volks or the competition or go about $3K more for the diesel. I think it is a lot better gamble than the electric. Look the diesel will never need anything but a $75.00 starter battery, compare that to the Prius or Volt. The Prius is something like $5000 and the Volt $10,000 for a battery pack. As someone else said that means these cars are junked at the time of battery replacement. We know that the tradeoff on diesels has always been longevity over gas engines, so resale should be much higher. Also, I live in hilly country, and the pulling power of a turbo diesel is so much better then a small gas engine. You cannot simply write off this new generation of diesels as non-starters. They are not “the” answer for everyone, but they are part of a larger solution along with the electric and small gas engined cars.

  • avatar

    I’d give up my ’07 Civic for one…. in a heartbeat. Too bad the local VW dealership is a joke…

  • avatar

    What a car, I’d trade in the Mazda3 for a TDi Sportwagen…maybe sell the old 760 too. I wonder what the ground clearance is like…because then I can forgo getting either an Escape or used XC70 for the next vehicle.

  • avatar

    Jerry, sorry to put a pin into your balloon (argument) about hybrid batteries, but not only have they been lasting the life of the car, the life of the car (at least for the Prius) has been 250,000 miles plus, on Canadian Prius taxicabs (miles added up over a 2-3 year timeframe, cars sold on at a very low price and replaced with other Prius hybrids). Prius is one of the most reliable cars sold today, an accomplishment which is astonishing if you consider the extreme complexity.

    Now to our diesel. Just drove past a BP gas station on the way to the lake with our Newfie (dog) after work yesterday.

    Regular unleaded (as used by my Prius – $21,000 up, my 2008 was $24,000 – 49 mpg observed on the computer down in the work parking lot right now) was $4.01

    Diesel fuel (as used by this $24,000 Jetta) $4.74

    Pretty well sums up the situation, doesn’t it?

    Yes, I think that maybe 15 of the 17 buyers of these things will be happy. In fact, I used to be a fanboy of diesels and never managed to get one. I think there’s even a place for them, if folks want to buy them and since they are now clean enough to be legal in the US.

    But please don’t trot out fallicies about hybrids as an argument to try to make diesel look better than they are. It’s disingenious. It simply makes it obvious that there are fewer advantages than Volkswagen and Mercedes would like, if you have to resort to attempts to trash competitive ideas to try to bolster your pre-concieved point of view.

  • avatar

    Nice review…Garak is right, though, a TDI motor is still an ICE, last time I checked.

    Also, please forgive another nitpick, but the word is spelled “taut,” not “taught.” Unless of course, you were teaching the suspension a lesson or something. ;-)

  • avatar

    The suspension is more forgiving than in the GTI, but it’s still taught.

    I hate to quibble words, but I think you meant “taut”. From Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: taut
    Pronunciation: ˈtȯt
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English tought, perhaps from tought, toughth fierce, tough, alteration of tough tough
    Date: 14th century

    1 a: having no give or slack : tightly drawn
    b: high-strung, tense
    2 a: kept in proper order or condition
    b (1): not loose or flabby
    (2): marked by economy of structure and detail

  • avatar

    BTW, when I test-drove a 2004 Prius (after which I put down a deposit and waiting 9 1/2 months for my 2005, now replaced with a 2008) – I didn’t just try to borrow one from the dealer. There weren’t any.

    Coincidentally and luckily for me, the Enterprise rental car agency in the town where I work was a guinea pig for the Prius in rental fleets, and they had some 3 dozen of them. I finally got one to rent (had to go on a list for that too) and rented one for a weekend.

    There is a VERY steep and long hill near town, on the way to my home. There’s a traffic light at the bottom. The road changes from 2 lane to 3 lane (2 lanes up hill) for this steep hill. It’s about 1/2 mile from traffic light to traffic light (at the top of the hill) and there are curves both at the bottom and top of the hill.

    We were stuck at the traffic light behind both a “slowburban” and a smoking older chrysler minivan.

    The light changed, the slowburban “parked” at 35 mph in the “fast” lane while the chrysler minivan struggled, smoking mightily, at about 38 mph in the “slow” lane (with me fuming about Michigan drivers not having any clue about “slow drivers stay to the right” behind both of them).

    After the minivan cut-up the slowburban and pulled in front of him, we were 1/2 way up the (very steep) hill, doing 38 mph. Since the minivan pulled in front of the slowburban, I had an opening and figured – “let’s see what she’ll do” and I proceeded to put the pedal down about 90%.

    We were doing 70 through the green light at the top of the hill (um, in a 55 zone) and blew the doors off everyone. To say I was shocked at the power & torque of electric motors would be the understatment of the day.

    BTW the combined maxima torque of the current Prius is 335 Ft Lb of torque. THREE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE FOOT POUNDS.

    So much for diesel torque.

  • avatar

    I guess you guys taut him a lesson. Tautalogically speaking…

    Text amended.

  • avatar

    Justin: great review, and (belated) congrats on your promotion to ME. I think the combo of this engine and the wagon would be damn near perfect.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately), the thursty/clunky 5 cylinder in the base Jetta makes the diesel seem so much better. If VW offered a reasonably efficient 4 cylinder gasser (below the GLI/GTI), the diesel would not look too hot (especially from a value proposition).

    Anybody know if the Mark VI Golf (it’s not a Rabbit, I don’t care what VW says) will get anything other than the 5cyl gas engine in the base models?

  • avatar

    3K premium to buy, 20% better efficiency, diesel costs 20% more. The only way this makes economic sense is if you drive a helluvalot all the time, everyday, forever.

  • avatar

    Good review overall, except for the typical slow diesel jokes that aren’t funny. VW will sell way more than 17 of these things. They’ll sell every unit that’s allocated to dealers without a problem. And the 1.9 isn’t a bad engine, I’ve been driving a Jetta TDI for 5 years now and still love the engine. I have a VE rotary pump engine in my car, and it has a decent amount of power. My parents have a 1.9 Pump duse 2005 Jetta, and it’s even better. The new 2.0 litre has enough torque that it’ll turn your new tires into racing slicks within days.

    I got 51 MPG on a recent long trip with the A/C on most of the way. Hopefully the new engine will fare as well, or better. It’s just too bad about the current body style.

  • avatar

    Mr. Farago:

    Sorry to correct your correction, but I believe it is “tautOlogically,” not tauAlogically.

    Of course, I never any spelinn or gramor mistakes in my posts make …


  • avatar


    The bear is chasing me today.

  • avatar

    Come on Justin, what about your mileage with this thing?
    VW and the EPA have some very different ideas about just how fuel efficient this thing is and it would have really helped us here if you let us know what your results were.

    Is VW blowing smoke out of their a$$ or what?

    For this model it ALL comes down to the fuel mileage! If it is not as good as VW is claiming this is NOT a 4 star car. The advantages over a regular gas power Jetta do NOT justify its much higher price and the regular Jetta is NOT a 4 star car.

    The regular Jetta is no slouch in the torque department with a 177 ft-lbs to motivate a 3200 lb car. It also has a 30hp advantage. At the end of the day the gas engine will be far more fun to drive than the oil burner.

    Give us the numbers!

  • avatar

    Failure rate on hybrid batteries is (thus far, at least) vanishingly small. So the whole “you’ll have to spend $8000 every few years on a new battery” claim is a paper tiger, unless the numbers change radically in the future.

    In any case, the nice thing about diesel vs. hybrid is that diesels tend to return good mileage even if you thrash/enjoy them, while hybrids seem to be much more dependent on driving style.

    Plus, for heavy highway use, diesel should return better MPG than a hybrid (I get 40 Interstate MPG in my hybrid Camry with the cruise set at 75), though the higher cost of diesel muddies the advantage.

    Choice is good, and I hope VW can regain its efficiency mojo and play in the high-MPG market. The 5-cyl Rabbit and Jetta are a joke (the turbo DSGs are much more interesting).

  • avatar

    Nice car but the Problem is.

    There’s a TURBO in it.

    You will never know when that turbo is going to BREAK and especially it is a Volkswagen Turbo.

    149 hp with almost 250 of torque is kind of scary.
    it must be howling on 5000 rpm engine noise.

  • avatar

    Jerry, sorry to put a pin into your balloon (argument) about hybrid batteries, but not only have they been lasting the life of the car, the life of the car (at least for the Prius) has been 250,000 miles plus, on Canadian Prius taxicabs (miles added up over a 2-3 year timeframe, cars sold on at a very low price and replaced with other Prius hybrids)

    Not completely true, while the batteries have indeed lasted the life (to date) of most hybrids, there was a government report on their own hybrid fleet that indicated the batteries do slowly lose capacity with age with the corresponding impact to the overall efficiency of the vehicle. This was linked here sometime within the last year and maybe some fellow member can remember where to dig up the evidence. That being said, the Prius and other hybrids shouldn’t need replacement batteries within the first 5 years of their life. Longer term ownership does carry a risk of a siginificant maintenance cost.

  • avatar

    Right you are brettc on the “sell 17 of them” line…The local V Dub dealer pre-sold every allocated unit for 2008 with a required $500 deposit BEFORE list price was even released…They’ll sell like hotcakes aka pancakes…Great real world solution to $4/gas…and also typical panic reaction but that is another topic. My son has a 2006 Rabbit aka Golf and even with the 2.5 “John Deere” engine, he gets 23-25 mpg around town with available torque that Civic and Corolla only dream about…The “Audubon for All” campaign is accurate as well: VWs are great road cars…This new Jetta TDI would be an awesome cross country cruiser…and require very few stops at the diesel pumps in the process.

  • avatar

    Sounds like an intriguing economical little car. I am in the market for a second car, and really want something tolerably roomy and very frugal. The Prius is an obvious choice. This VW could get my attention if I thought VWs poor reliability (coupled with high repair costs) had been laid to rest. But as far as I know, it hasn’t.

  • avatar

    TTAC Readers, you want the numbers, you got them. Real, observable numbers from several different testing sources (Popular Mechanics, Canadian Driver, real drivers, etc… and ME!)

    2006 Jetta TDI 1.9L 5spd manual (My own)
    Observed City – 36mpg
    Observed Highway – 42mpg (75mph), 47 (60-65mph)
    Race Day – 22mpg

    2009 Jetta TDI 2.0L (both transmissions)
    Observed City – 32-34mpg
    Combined Cycle – 35-36mpg
    Highway – 39-41mpg

  • avatar

    I test drove one of these a couple of weeks ago and really liked it. I might have waited to get one but when the sales rep told me that they are charging a $4,000 markup for the TDI version, I went with a different Jetta. Because of that, I bought the Wolfsburg with the 2.0T even though it requires premium. At least it gets better gas mileage than my old G35 coupe.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    I280 and the Ohio Turnpike. Diesel at $4.09 today. Just about time to get the 1985 W126 out of hibernation. (The one with the original turbo that’s just fine after 23 years.)

  • avatar

    My folks were recently THIS CLOSE to buying one. They ended up with a Passat 2.0t DSG instead (more room, options).

    But this came only after my dad’s frank discussion with the German head mechanic at his local dealership. This guy is a straight shooter and my dad has purchased 4 or 5 other cars from this establishment (20+ VWs lifetime).

    The mechanic told him off-the-record that the new tdi has backpressure issues, due in part to the downstream particulate filter. He said the engines tended to be fine for those driving 25k+ miles a year on the highway, but that city driving tended to cause the engine trouble…in addition to preventing the cost/benefit ratio to work out in your favor.

    I’m still a fan, so I found this news a bit sad. I guess the economics are just not for me, especially with electro-mechanical kinks yet to be worked out.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @whatdoiknow1: I intentionally didn't include MPG for this car in the review. Why? Because this isn't a competitor for the Prius, and the diesel versus economical gas versus hybrid debate make my face hurt. Anyone that would look at the Prius will not like the Jetta TDI. At all. It will not make a slight bit of sense to them. This new Jetta TDI is a Volkswagen GLI alternative that gets better mileage than the GLI and it cheaper than the GLI. PS – I observed 36 mpg driving the snot out of it, all in town and on B roads. Did not take a long highway trip, so cannot give you absolute best numbers unfortunately.

  • avatar

    39 MPG sounds pretty awesome. Now, if only Americans got the same tax breaks on Diesel fuel that the Europeans do.

    Bring over the Polo and the Touran, Volkswagen! PLEASE!

  • avatar


    Thanks for the reminder…this car was actually just approved a couple weeks ago for nearly $2k in federal tax credits for buyers!

    Probably worth considering to offset the price.

  • avatar

    Holy torque Batman! If only there were some hope that this vehicle would be any more reliable than any other VW product.

  • avatar


    Agreed, this whole diesel v. hybrid debate is taking years off my life! Both will be around for a long time, both have significant advantages and disadvantages. You are exactly right though, in this case, these two cars are not comparable, a Jetta may look like a Toyota, but 2 seconds behind the wheel, blindfolded and drunk you’d still be able to tell the difference

  • avatar


    I respectfully disagree (as opposed to disrespectfully disagreeing) with your statement that this car is not a competitor for the Prius.

    Their price point, excellent mileage figures, and 4 door body style make them natural competitors. I understand what you’re saying in that the VW is more of a driver’s car and the Toyota is more reliable, but one would wonder if indeed these cars will be cross shopped.

    We’ll see.

  • avatar

    I’ll take the wagon diesel thanks with a side of 4motion.

  • avatar

    There is no comparison between this car and a Prius. Totally different purpose. Who cares if the prius has 335ft-lbs of torque? No prius will ever see a track, auto-x, or take a tight turn quickly. You could call the TDI an enthusiast car, you could also call the Prius an appliance.

  • avatar

    I just don’t think diesel is the savior everyone wants it to be. For those who don’t know oil refining, you can only get so much diesel fuel from a barrel of oil, which isn’t much. Same applies to gasoline but it’s easier to get more of that from a barrel. Europe uses more diesel than gasoline so they sell the unwanted gasoline to the States where we can use it up and helps supress the price.

    Switching the USA over to a diesel fleet simply cannot happen – there isn’t enough oil out there to refine. That’s why I’d much rather see the diesel fuel used where it makes the most sense – farm & construction machinery, heavy trucks and boats.

    Seems like such a waste to use diesel fuel to shuttle around trixies in their jettas when we’ve got plenty of gasoline to burn that isn’t needed for important work. If you want high mileage, buy a hybrid, Honda & Toyota have much better reliability numbers that Volkswagen.

  • avatar

    We were doing 70 through the green light at the top of the hill (um, in a 55 zone) and blew the doors off everyone. To say I was shocked at the power & torque of electric motors would be the understatment of the day.

    BTW the combined maxima torque of the current Prius is 335 Ft Lb of torque. THREE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE FOOT POUNDS.


    First of all concerning driving Prii up hills I’ve read other anecdotal evidence stating that it’s less then impressive, but I suppose it is very much dependant on the slope and longevity of the ascent.

    More importantly, I do suppose you are aware that that ‘official’ max torque figure is just a hypothetical figure, because under driving the (combined) powerplant will never near generate that amount of torque.

    IMHO, the best way to assess the amount of real life torque delivered is to time 30-55 and 55-80 sprints. Aside from any other issues, I at least bet that in comparable gears the TDI will crush the Prius by a mile.

  • avatar

    Rspasite said “In any case, the nice thing about diesel vs. hybrid is that diesels tend to return good mileage even if you thrash/enjoy them, while hybrids seem to be much more dependent on driving style.”

    Totally accurate. As an owner of a Prius and prior owner of a Prius, I concur 100%.

    Also, the other down-side of the (current gen.) Prius for nations which insist upon force-feeding non-gasoline to the buying public, I regularly see a 15% decline in MPG on E10 in the Prius, and while this is in line with prior testing on virtually every other car I’ve tested since 1979, it’s highly disappointing (especially given two salient facts; 1) that there is only ONE fuel station in my area which now sells pure gasoline, thankfully only about 8 miles out of the way and 2) on my wife’s 2007 Sonata four cylinder, the MPG drop on E10 is only 6%).

    However, diesels don’t get off scot-free here, either, given that I’m now reading that Biodiesel mixed with petro-diesel fuel is providing for fewer MPG, along with adding the the number of breakdowns in cold weather (i.e. the idiots in charge of Minnesota demanding higher concentrations of bio- in their diesel combined with super-cold winter temps).

    Intentionally mis-fuelling vehicles is not a good thing, but even worse when mandated by governments. Especially when said governments are run by imbeciles.

  • avatar

    Still waiting for the A8 4.0L twin turbo V8 diesel, or at least a Euro-spec 3.0L V6.

    2.0L TDI? Yawn. Adequate is not good enough to get me to buy a diesel, it has to be stupendously powerful (ie torquey and quick) and sip fuel like a much smaller engine. See my list above for what I mean.

  • avatar

    From the review, this sounds like a really fun-to-drive, four door sedan that actually seats four, that doesn’t scream “I’m speeding.” Perfect!

    So why is everyone hung up on the Prius vs diesel thing? Geez. No one has a problem with the G37 getting lousy mileage, but if you offer a sedan that gets good mileage it’s automatically a loser because you might get better mileage in a Prius?

    Personally, I’d love to give it a spin. It sounds awesome. Yes, the VW reliability thing adds a few thousand to the price for the extended warranty, but fun handling cars with great powertrains that get good mileage just don’t come along very often.

    And should be given at least a passing nod from pistonheads!

  • avatar

    JJ, what was theoretical about my 70 mph swing through that green light at the top of Green Hill near Traverse City, Michigan with a starting speed some 1/4 mile away of 38 mph? It’s a pretty steep grade, and gets steeper about 1/2 way up, just before I started “nailing” it.

    Extreme acceleration on an uphill takes TORQUE and a lot of it.

    Torque makes acceleration. (Prius: 0-60 in 10 to 10.5 seconds per multiple tests since 2004). In all likelihood, this is actually LIMITED by the computer (traction control) since so much torque would essentially simply shred the front tires if not controlled.

    Horsepower makes top speed. (Prius: 106 mph).

    I like my Prius. But I’m not against all the other solutions out there.

    I don’t believe there is ONE solution, or ONE future motor fuel. I think we’re soon going to be done with the “gasoline reciprocating engine” era – and we’ll have to adjust to alternatives, and several of them.

    In fact, I was considering the idea of a Honda Accord diesel in addition to our Prius (given that I don’t like Volkswagen’s infamous unreliability – sorry) when it comes out. But given that my wife’s Sonata can tow our little pop-up camper (which the Prius cannot), and that the E10 mpg differential is pretty low with the Sonata, and that the diesel Accord would PROBABLY cost me $5000-$8000 more than a new Sonata 4 cyl., as a guess, and given that diesel fuel is 73 cents a gallon higher here than gasoline – the math doesn’t add up. Even so, I hope Honda do sell the diesel for those folks who wish to have that option.

    Plus as someone else mentioned, there is the problem of not having sufficient diesel fuel capacity in North America, which stems from a different refinery technique used on this side of the pond (which results in more gasoline and less diesel per gallon of crude oil than does the European method of refining). In fact, Europe has been so hell-bent on diesels, they’ve had excess gasoline to sell on the world market for years now, and America has tended to buy it.

  • avatar

    Man I really wish VW would fix their quality problems and horrid dealers. Reading reviews like this, riding and my brothers TDI he had for a few months and just generally liking VW driving dynamics makes me want to get one, but I wont touch the brand in it’s current form. Jeez I wont even take my Subaru to the VW/Subaru dealer 5 miles from our house because they are crooks who don’t know what they are doing. I would rather take my car 80 miles away and know they aren’t going to screw it up.

    Are they offering the TDI and both trannies in all the VW’s they sell here? IF I were to consider getting one it would have to be a Golf, I hated the Wolfsburg loaner we had for a week last year, it was a horrible driving car and dangerous in wet conditions.

  • avatar

    I’ll stick with my GLI, thanks. It’s quick, fast, economical, AND reliable (71K miles and counting…)

  • avatar

    Justin Berkowitz :
    August 15th, 2008 at 10:40 am

    @whatdoiknow1: I intentionally didn’t include MPG for this car in the review. Why? Because this isn’t a competitor for the Prius, and the diesel versus economical gas versus hybrid debate make my face hurt. Anyone that would look at the Prius will not like the Jetta TDI. At all. It will not make a slight bit of sense to them. This new Jetta TDI is a Volkswagen GLI alternative that gets better mileage than the GLI and it cheaper than the GLI. PS – I observed 36 mpg driving the snot out of it, all in town and on B roads. Did not take a long highway trip, so cannot give you absolute best numbers unfortunately.

    Nevermind the Prius or any other hybrid what I care about is if this thing actually has any real advantage in the real world. Personally I do not see this as an alternative to a GLI/ GTI. Anyone interested in a GLI aint gonna be happy with only 140hp. The engine characteristics of the diesel are just not enjoyable enough and the price advantage is not signifcant enough either. I think it is begging the issue to compare downward from a GLI when the correct comparison to to compare upward from a base model Jetta were the price difference IS very significant.

    In a nutshell if the Jetta TDI is not managing a solid 40mpg it quickly become a “what’s the point” car. VW already know this, that is why they needed to publish their own “independent” mileage figures.

    The biggest issue with diesels in the USA is simply one of hassle! Do the benefits of owning a diesel powered car out-weight the extra hassles of owning a diesel.

  • avatar

    Minor quibble. Al Gore didn’t invent the environment. He does, however, know everything, absolutely everything, about it. And knows it for the next 100 years, too! Why, its just amazing….

    PS – Himself doesn’t like your stinky sooty rattlecans. That is all.

  • avatar


    Re: quickness

    My dad’s comment was “It’s quick–not quite R32 quick, but still quick” (R32 is his daily driver)

    He guessed about 8 seconds to 60mph in the Jetta. The old model was around 11+ seconds. Keep in mind the new engine was not derived from the old one. Completely different beast, aimed more at driveability/smoothness than economy (like the 1.9 was)

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    I see what you’re saying, but I still have to stick to my guns that this Jetta is a superb all arounder.
    I love my GTI desperately, and would happily consider this alternative.

    The acceleration off the line is great – about 8 seconds 0-60, the at-speed acceleration is even better. The economy is strong, even if it’s not close to Prius numbers.

    But it’s so much more fun than the non-hybrids offered at $21,990 that I can’t really justify them. And considering the increase in mileage and the tax credit, the extra fuel cost and extra price is probably a wash or close enough to it.

    In other words, I doubt this would be any cheaper to buy and run than a comparably priced car. But it is a hell of a lot more fun than most of them.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I think alot of people are overlooking the purpose of this type of car in their hunt for paper machinations and those lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    A current generation prius can beat this type of car in the MPG war and cost per mile war, sure. Except, wait. If you are a highway tycoon, the Prius excels (and accels) less in comparison. It’s more of a city car, where it can utilize battery only operation.

    Hence why a BMW 520d received better gas mileage than a current generation Prius in a long road trip in Europe. (Do a search for it, I’m not going to right now).

    This type of machine, being a 4-door standard sedan diesel, is about a few things:

    1. Better Fuel economy – Lots of folks like to quote the current price of diesel as a reason it’s not long-term efficient. Well, since we are looking at the long-term….why don’t you look at diesels price over the long-term as well. Oils slid $30 in the past few weeks….personally, I think it’s going to stabilize around $100 a barrel. This alone will help reduce the disparity in prices. If more automakers bring over diesels (likely), then more refining capacity will likely be added in the future, or more refining switched to diesel, which will help quell the price disparity in the long-term.

    Also, Diesels tend to do better in real-world terms vs. hybrids, which seem to do worse. If you want to cruise at 75mph and not worry about bursts of acceleration, Diesel fuel economy might be more up your alley.

    2. These things make really nice power at engine speeds most people are puttering around at. When I’m at 3000 rpms in my 06 Civic SI, my car makes roughly 73 HP (HP = accelerative ability of the car) at the flywheel. The diesel, OTOH, makes almost twice as much HP at the same engine speed.

    And it makes it quickly, without fuss. So the diesel will provide a much more satisfying in-gear low RPM surge in power.

    Personally, I hope this trend continues. Acura is slated to bring over a new diesel engine into their TSX line-up….which if they refine the front end of the car, might make for a very tasty package at ~180-200 HP and ~300 lb/ft of torque.

    BMW is bringing over the 335d at some point….

    If this continues, you’ll find out why diesels are so much fun.

    And if you doubt that, then go drive a Prius and a Jetta diesel and tell me which one a car-guy/gal would prefer to drive on a daily basis.


    P.s. I am looking forward to the new-gen Prius arriving, as it’s supposed to have ~160 HP and more handling prowess…but we’ll see.

  • avatar
    Joe O


    To your point about acceleration, I think people focus too much on the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times….those are somewhat dissapointing in a diesel.

    But compare a 50-70 or 40-60 in-gear pull time….the type of thing you are actually likely to do on a daily basis.

    Just a basic primer on torque vs. HP:

    Torque is the twisting force an engine can generate
    HP is really a measure of the car’s acceleration

    HP is simply a function of torque multiplied by engine RPMs.

    So if you want to compare two vehicles and their specific acceleration at a given engine speed, then do this calculation:

    Engine speed (rpms) x torque output at that engine speed / 5252

    You will get the HP output the engine is creating at that engine speed. And this will tell you the accelerative capability of that engine.

    Of course, acceleration is then aided or muted by vehicle weight and gearing…but you’ll get the gist.


    P.s. That’s one of the reasons the BMW 335i is so bad-ass….look at the freaking HP it makes at 2000 or 2500 rpms compared to it’s naturally aspirated rivals.

  • avatar

    What would be nice is if all the other manufacturers started selling common rail diesels here too.

    I’m not a huge V-Dub fan, mostly because of their dealer network, but hats off to them for at least offering a decent alternative for those who like diesels. And hybrid battery life questions aside, no one can argue the longevity of a diesel engine.

    I own 3 turbo diesels. 1 is a 5.9L Cummins in my Dodge Ram. It’s just over 220,000 miles, with nothing but routine maintenance. (Lot’s of issues with the Dodge itself, but the Cummins has been flawless)

    The other 2 are in my boat. 6 cylinder Yanmars that are approaching 8000 hours. Marine engines tend to be run at a much higher load than car engines, usually at least 75 or 80%. At the car equivalent of 400,000 to 500,000 miles, mine are still running perfectly.

    Now here’s where I think it gets interesting. I run bio diesel in both the truck and the boat. I started off running store bought B10 and B20 in the Ram, and noticed a slight drop in mpg, about 1/2 to 1 mpg vs petro diesel. But there was a huge decrease in all the “bad” diesel characteristics; smoke, smell, clatter. The engine just ran better and cleaner.

    Once the warranty was up I tried some B50, and then some B100. It was another vast improvement in the overall behavior of the engine. MPGs down about 1 1/2 to 2 MPG vs straight petro diesel, but livability up immeasurably.

    I have a 1/4 share of a biodiesel processor, and my partners and I average $1.05 to $1.20 per gallon total cost for making our B100. It’s shockingly easy to do, and a great feeling knowing I’m not contributing to the latest round of record profits for ExxonMobil.

    Now I know the average gear head, let alone the average soccer mom will never even think about making biodiesel, but what I think would be an interesting angle for VW is to market the TDis to the Greenie Weenies who buy hybrids as a fashion statement. (Look at ME, dammit, I’m saving the world, and you’re not.Love me, LOVE ME…..) Maybe give them a free set of biodiesel processor plans with the car, or set up some processor co-ops around the country.

    Of course, they’d have to completely change the body style, so everyone could tell at a glance what a good eco citizen was driving by.

    The studies I’ve read suggest it would take more cultivated land dedicated to fuel production than we currently have dedicated to food production to switch the whole country over to B100. But their ability to use bio fuels certainly makes diesels an interesting step in the attempt to get off foreign oil.

  • avatar

    I’m still recovering from shock after reading a Diesel-positive article on TTAC.


  • avatar

    2009 Jetta TDI 2.0L (both transmissions)
    Observed City – 32-34mpg
    Combined Cycle – 35-36mpg
    Highway – 39-41mpg

    Interesting. That’s about exactly what I get in the Camry hybrid, though I do about 2MPG better in stop-and-go.

    And the Camry hybrid has astounding torque in the 40-80MPH range. Passing power is impressive, helped by the CVT. Off the line, though, it’s nothing special.

    Of course, the Jetta looks like a lot more fun. The Camry’s handling is theoretical at best.

  • avatar

    vw is claiming that the new tdi qualifies for the $1300 tax credit, so figure it more in the 22k range when it’s all said and done.

    and for the difference in diesel vs. gas cost, vw has approved this engine to run on upto B20 blend, so i’ve you’ve mixing in 20% home brew diesel, you’re suddenly a few cents below 4.00 a gal. (when basing road diesel at $4.75 per a gallon as previously compared). i’m not saying doing such bio-brewing is for everyone, and less then 1 % of buyers will create such a blend. but it’s an option.

    i for one will wait for the sportwagon version to come out.

    i’ll also note that if this engine same gains from a chip and injector tips anywhere near the same manner that it predecessor did that 180-190hp and 300lb-ft won’t be out of the realm of expectations. (i’d strongly consider a clutch upgrade at that point)

  • avatar

    …suck-my- particulates-Civic 236 ft-lbs of torque…
    Warning: the following applies to the Jetta TDI that was sold in Canada to mid-2007. We have a few in the company fleet and I’ve spent some time in them.

    Yes, but the powerband is so narrow and the redline is so damn low you don’t get a lot of time to enjoy it. It’s like the bizarro version of the RX-8, Celica GTS or Integra Type-R: instead of the power showing up north of 6500rpm and going to ~8000, it’s there from about 1200 and wheezes out well before the 4500rpm redline.

    You have to shift, a lot, to have fun in this car. I’ve had Golfs in Europe and it was pretty much shift-shift-shift all the time. With VW’s sort of ropey shifter, that’s not a good thing.

    That said, equipped with a six-speed automatic it’s a great daily driver and the mileage is good. It’s comfortable to sit in for long hauls, too.

    That being said, the Prius and other hybrids shouldn’t need replacement batteries within the first 5 years of their life. Longer term ownership does carry a risk of a siginificant maintenance cost.

    The batteries and hybrid system have an extensive warranty, and Toyota pays a significant recycling bounty on battery packs, so it’s not quite as much of a hit as people think.

    Personally, I’d take my chances with the Prius’ potential battery over the Volkswagen’s, well, potential everything issues.

  • avatar

    Went to my local VW dealer cause I wanted a TDI Sportswagen to replace my 4Runner. He has sold out his stock of 09’s sight unseen. $4000 down to get on a list in case of cancellations and oh he didn’t order any sticks…..because Americans don’t want stick wagons….DOH!!!!!!!

  • avatar

    Gas is back down below 3.50 and below 3.40 at some stations here in Houston, good luck getting a premium for a diesel engine.

  • avatar

    I drive an 06 GTI and have had zero issues at 33K. Had a 04 R32 with zero issues at 44K. My wife’s 03 Passat, that’s another story but anyway, I drove one of the dealer demos last week. I was blown away by it! I couldnt believe the “free revyness” of the engine. If you didnt look at the tach to see the revs, you would not know it is a diesel. Perhaps I too like the softer but not too soft suspension.
    One thing, the TDi DSG does not have paddle shifters. Really too bad. As a 35 year manual tranny driver, I hate using an auto gear selector to shift even if it is a DSG. Would rather have the paddles.

  • avatar

    Love the styling analysis.

    I need to get pricing for these into TrueDelta’s pricing database ASAP. Probably in next few days. Not just to price them, but because until the powertrain data is entered owners can’t submit data on the car to TrueDelta’s Fuel Economy Survey.

    Capt. Solo’s numbers suggest that the new diesel might be less economical than the old one. But for 50 more horses, probably worth the trade-off.

    Reliability has actually been decent for the MkV in TrueDelta’s reliability survey. With the MkIV, the TDIs require quite a few more repairs than the gas engines, but owners also tend to drive far more miles. The extra miles likely explain the extra repairs.

    Can always use more participants:

  • avatar

    the only reason i’d go with the stick over the dsg is the $400 flush the dsg requires roughly ever 30k. in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal (breaks down to about the cost of oil changes per a mile) but expensive maintaince is expensive maintaince any way you slice it.

  • avatar

    I hear ya Cap’t…The maint is steep. Fortunately there are some good VW dealers in the Chicago area where I am. I’ve read a lot about the Borg-Warner (yep, they came up with it) DSG and it actually has been very reliable. In the R32 and Gti the thing rocks!

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Quote from SWA737: “…and a great feeling knowing I’m not contributing to the latest round of record profits for ExxonMobil.”

    What exactly would you expect a commodities company to do when their commodity’s value quadruples in value over a few years?

    If you weren’t complaining about their margins (8-10%) at $30 a barrel, why are you complaining about their margins at $120-130 a barrel?


  • avatar
    Joe O

    Subaru is bringing over “the world’s first boxer diesel” as well, in their legacy platform. Not sure when that is slated to arrive though.

    Personally, I think I’d choose the Legacy platform over the VW.


  • avatar

    Berk: “… Al Gore invented the environment …”

    Enough of this, already.
    Gore Simply Knows How to Read – and Does So

  • avatar

    But the problem is Diesel is more expensive than Gasoline.

  • avatar

    So, uh, how about a diesel hybrid?

  • avatar

    VW is hard at work on gas and diesel hybrids. It is very difficult to tune a hybrid (with stop-start) and still get PZEV level emissions. Even though the US has low(er) sulfur fuel now, ours is still 15% higher than Europe’s. NOx and CO2 emissions spike’s are hard to get rid of. Plus VW of America is very conservative when it comes to what they sell in the the US.

  • avatar

    Lack of a wagon (what about Passat wagon?) or at least Rabbit/Golf, and VW’s ill reputation for reliability will limit the market for this thing.

    VW dealers’ charging $4K markup may last for a short while, then the street prices will drop below MSRP.

  • avatar

    To contribute to the Diesel vs Hybrid debate check out this from Fifth Gear.

  • avatar

    I have been driving a 2006 VW Jetta TDI for nearly 2 years now. During that time I have averaged 43 MPG… that is at speeds above the posted limit. Three other people can also ride with me. Oh yeah, I can pull a boat or small trailer too.

    Tell me I am unsafe if you must, but driving with traffic in great comfort sure beats the hell out of cramping into a Prius and following along in the left lane.

    Consider this, I fill my tank once every two weeks for $65 while my brother spends over $120 in his truck once a week.

    This new Jetta TDI is on my wish list… too bad my current one will last well into the next decade. Ha, ha.

  • avatar

    “Subaru is bringing over “the world’s first boxer diesel” as well, in their legacy platform. Not sure when that is slated to arrive though.

    Personally, I think I’d choose the Legacy platform over the VW.”

    joe, i’m a subaru guy and a pancake diesel engine will make mountains of torque, but redline on a flat-deisel engine is going to feel scary low. i’d love for subaru to prove me wrong on this but i doubt it will enjoy breathing above 4k.

  • avatar

    I’m intrigued by the 2.0TDI engine, but the Jetta’s exterior styling makes my eyes bleed — it has not a single graceful exterior line. Add to that VW’s dismal dealer network and repair costs, and it starts seeming like a good powertrain in search of a car.

  • avatar

    All else being equal a 2007 emissions compliant diesel is going to be 3-5% less efficient than than the same engine with 2001-2006 emissions standards.

    If you are doing mostly stop n go city driving you will be constantly filling up the soot filter and burning fuel to clean it out. It will be much happier with regular spurts of highway driving.

    The Cummins ISMs in the Internationals at my work were quite troublesome getting the DPF to clear until we leaned to take them on the freeway and rev the engine high for ~10 miles on a hill.

    While I have to give VW props for offering the only car based oil burner for the USDM I’ll pass based on their spotty dealership network and high prices.

    I’ll happily lease a diesel from Subaru or Honda.

  • avatar

    Uh, the reason people keep comparing this to the Prius is that every story about the Prius ends up with two dozen comments from people who are sure that The Next Diesel is Gonna Beat The Prius Good!

  • avatar

    I’m not a particularly big fan of diesels or hybrids, but one thing I will agree with is that the batteries in hybrids are a real problem.

    Everytime it comes up, someone runs forward screaming about taxi cab applications and 250k mile durability. Ok, that’s fine. I take no issue with that. High duty mileage in a relatively short time isn’t so much what I’d be concerned about, but rather time and environment.

    If all those Prius’s are still happily churning around after 10 years and 150k + miles with factory battery packs, then let’s talk.

    To make matters even worse, once the batteries are toast, they are done. It’s not like rebuilding a transmission or replacing a head gasket. We’re talking a huge, dealer only item that can’t really be salvaged after a certain timeframe. Think about that. Not everybody gets a new car in 3 or 5 years. Especially not cheap folks.

    I’ll openly admit I might be wrong. But I am waiting patiently to see how it pans out.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Those nickel batteries are devastatingly to the environment. Buy clean diesel instead :)

    But seriously, the whole argument about these things vs. a Prius at this point is moot….Hybrids are advancing, and the next gen prius will be bigger and badder in every area…resulting in diesels developing further…

    etc. etc. until we all drive hovercraft.

    And those will be powered by tiny nanobots which power themselves on oxygen and break down water for it’s hydrogen byproduct.

    captdownshift – Is there something about a flat engine revving high that I don’t know?

    My 08 Legacy GT has no problem with it’s 6500 rpm redline…and plenty of Porsches will rev to 7000 rpms and beyond without a problem.

    The Subaru engine is already out and has been driven, you can read about it in a variety of places. It’s been pretty well raved about, though I think it’ll do better in a new platform rather than the current Legacy.


  • avatar


    The Prius has more interior space than a Jetta.

  • avatar

    Slare, at least your FUD listened to the first point. Too bad it missed some others – namely that the first gen US Prius (second gen overall – the ones that were Echo-sized) had similar batteries (not as good, but similar chemistry) and they’ve lasted just fine – pushing 8-9 years by now.

  • avatar

    I’ll openly admit I might be wrong. But I am waiting patiently to see how it pans out.

    You’re wrong now. :)
    Everytime it comes up, someone runs forward screaming about taxi cab applications and 250k mile durability. Ok, that’s fine. I take no issue with that. High duty mileage in a relatively short time isn’t so much what I’d be concerned about, but rather time and environment.
    I’d say that’s a pretty good benchmark. Heavy-duty use (lots of charge/discharge cycles) is much harder on batteries than light-duty use over time. That the Prius is surviving that with little degredation in performance is an important statistic that speaks well of the technology.

    And the environmental impact? Yes, nickel smelting isn’t clean, but neither is petroleum refinement–never mind that most nickel does not get made into batteries. And, unlike burned oil and gas, you can recycle batteries.
    If all those Prius’s are still happily churning around after 10 years and 150k + miles with factory battery packs, then let’s talk.
    Not a lot of cars make it that far without some loss of functionality. Many European, and most luxury models, if not perfectly maintained, will rot incredibly quickly and an engine or transmission major repair, replacement or rebuild on one of those cars is very, very expensive. Maybe not battery-pack expensive, but so close as to be effectively equivalent, especially for someone who does their own wrenching.
    To make matters even worse, once the batteries are toast, they are done. It’s not like rebuilding a transmission or replacing a head gasket. We’re talking a huge, dealer only item that can’t really be salvaged after a certain timeframe. Think about that. Not everybody gets a new car in 3 or 5 years. Especially not cheap folks.
    I don’t know what part of the world you’re from, but rebuilding a modern automatic transmission in North America or Europe is not exactly cheap or easy. Certainly, it’s harder than swapping out a few batteries.

    If you don’t do your own work, an engine or automatic transmission failure is as bad or worse than a hybrid battery replacement, and it’s not like a battery that can’t hold much charge will make the car undriveable–it’ll just be slow. How slow? Drive a Prius hard until the battery is flat and you’ll know exactly how it will behave.

    If your engine seizes or your transmission will not shift, your car is dead in the water. Not slow: dead.

    The griping about hybrids and batteries sounds exactly like the griping about fuel injection from 15-25 years ago. Fuel injection was supposed to make cars expensive to repair for pros and impossible for normal folk. It was inherently unreliable, they said, and too complex.

    And you know what, when it was done badly (ie, by Europeans or Americans), it certainly did suck. But when it was done well (by the Japanese) it beat the snot out of owning a carbuerated car, both in terms of drivability and reliability. No more fiddling with a cranky carb, the EFI system “just worked”. Sure, some old gearheads still preferred screwing with the damn things, but for the rest of us (ie, 95% of drivers) EFI made car ownership cheaper and more reliable, despite being “theoretically” more problematic.

    The same applies to diesels and hybrids: sure, the diesel engine is theoretically more solid and less complex, but thusfar it’s Toyota’s hybrids that are taking home reliability awards, while Volkswagen’s cars–diesel or gas–are still midpack at best.

    Forgive me if this sounds harsh, but the claims of hybrids and their batteries being problematic seems more Luddite fear than hard fact.

  • avatar


    i know all the UK owners i’ve talked to love their legacy diesels. clarkson started to sound like it loved it intially in his review and then panned the engine, though that’s clarkson and taken with a huge grain of salt that one could choke on (and if they get it down, have blood pressure high enough from it to have a stroke).

    porsche does magically make their flat engines rev, and subarus get theirs above 6,500 (my sti rev to 7grand) but most pancakes have such a long stroke, which creates the great torque, but only allows so many revs. it could also be that the subaru sourced IHI turbos aren’t happy high in the rev range in their gasser engines or head/intake design that prevents breathing, but about 6,400 the sti (an 05) is pretty lifeless, i’ve heard a TGV flap delete in the intake helps a lot but i havent performed that experiment as of yet as i’m not trying to bypass any emissions equipment.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Wow, the TDI seriously intrigues me. Awesome fuel economy, manual tranny, enough monster torque to make the car get out of its own way, priced between the base Jetta and GLI, and “nearly as much fun to drive as the GTI”? HELLO!

    Only three major problems:
    1. Diesel fuel costs (as most have already mentioned)
    2. Lack of availability of diesel fuel stations
    3. The Jetta manages to look ugly and boring at the same time!

    Luckily, #3 can be womewhat remedied by larger wheels, a lip spoiler, and the factory ground effects…you’d be surprised what a difference they make.

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    So let me get this straight…

    I pay the dealer a significant markup over MSRP to buy a new TDI.

    I have to have all drivetrain maintenance done at the dealership for the foreseeable future (including after warranty), as the diesel is a new design.

    I have to pray that VW solved the various quality issues that have plagued the brand for what seems forever now.

    And lastly, I have to hope that diesel demand doesn’t cause another spike in diesel prices so that all of this makes economic sense.

    Oh yeah, and one more thing: I have to believe that the Germans really took into account the still relatively crappy quality of fuels in this country.

    Um, I think I’ll just go w/a boring ol’ Prius; it’s not like spirited driving is a hallmark of the American motoring experience.

  • avatar

    “If all those Prius’s are still happily churning around after 10 years and 150k + miles with factory battery packs, then let’s talk.”

    The Prius has already been sold for 11 years.

  • avatar

    high mileage, buy a hybrid, Honda & Toyota have much better reliability numbers that Volkswagen.

    I put 624,000 miles on my 1987 Golf (before hitting a deer at 55mph). My current 1997 Jetta is at 260,000 miles and doesn’t burn (or consume) a drop of oil. They are plenty reliable enough for my needs.

    But I guess my cars don’t qualify as high mileage, eh?

    This VW could get my attention if I thought VWs poor reliability (coupled with high repair costs) had been laid to rest.

    If you keep taking ANY car to the dealer for repairs after the warranty runs out, guess what?
    YOU WILL GET TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS! The service department at any dealership is the high profit center.

    Find a private mechanic and save yourself hundreds of $$$$$ – it works for me…

  • avatar

    No hybrids for me, thank you – they’re for the latest generation of mechanically-challenged drivers.

    As an automotive enthusiast, I prefer to be more of a hands-on car owner when it comes to maintenance (for the past 30 years and counting)…

  • avatar

    And to all other Prius true believers.
    The reason all these diesel discussions start to compair with the Prius is Prius drivers are fanatics.
    Like ex-smokers.
    Everybody needs to know they are reborn and must praise them and join them.
    There is no comparison between these two cars.
    I don’t care about the constant use of the Canadian Taxi 200K plus miles.
    I know smokers that lived to be 100.
    Most don’t!
    I know the Prius.
    I know the diesel.
    They simply do not compare.
    One gets you mileage…without any semblance of fun or power.
    Just try driving either one up a hill…withouit passengers….and the truth hits.
    And the interiors…puleeez!
    And the driving experience!
    The Prius sucks at both.
    Its roomy, but it feels like a park bench.
    Look…now that we diesel lovers are getting our diesels back, all you diesel haters just back off and ton’t keep talking about the damned Prius.
    All right allready.
    Just buy your Prius and feel good about your saving the planet and your carbon footprint.
    Leave us alone.

  • avatar

    I already have a TDI Jetta. Well over 120,000 miles… most on my own home-made fuel. I really don’t need more HP (90 HP and 50 MPG @ 90 MPH makes me smile all day long!)

    What I don’t want is another Jetta. It is a dull as dishwater sedan ferrchrissakes. I want something INTERESTING with Diesel power. Say an Alfa Romeo JTDM-powered Spider. An Audi TT TDI Convertible… anything but yet another dull VW sedan. My kids are going off to college… I don’t want or need back seats anymore.

    Sigh. I feel like I’m too far ahead of the curve compared to my countrymen.


  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The VW deal breakers are extraordinary preventive and breakdown maintenance costs and legendary dealer warmth. I’ll pass until these are competitive.

  • avatar

    Attention all Prius owners:

    My ’84 Volvo 245 Diesel (Powered by Volkswagen) is 24 years old.

    Please notify me when your Prius is 24 years old and still running.

    Thank you.

  • avatar

    As many have pointed out, there is little comparison between turbodiesels and hybrids or petrol cars for that matter. Hybrids are great for lame urban and suburban stop and go driving. I know, I bought one for mom and its OK for what it is. But it is truly “beige” thru and thru. And thats perfectly fine for some people and their driving reality.

    Turbodiesels are a whole different subspecies. Constant-use, intercity and interstate is where these things thrive. Ive driven this new VW at the biodiesel convention in the spring. Even with four guys, it was pretty impressive. Still, its no Saab 93 TiD either.(My car)

    And yes Vws(and most cars) have their usually small issues. Last week for example, I changed 2 bad 04 VW TDI pre-pumps($600 per). As per usual, the Germans have a way to over-complicate everything. In truth, these diesels dont even need a pre-pump, especially one that runs constantly. (ie All diesel return lines are pressured)

    One problem I see most diesels encountering has to do with the lameass quality of the Dfuel here. Passing high emission specs and keeping EGRs clean with >40 Cetane fuel for 100Kmiles will be quite the feat. For that VW and MB should be commended.(Bring that BioD)

    We also need to quit exporting diesel. We need it here and that would bring the price in line.

    Finally…there should be more TD “sticks” ordered, cuz they are way easy and a joy to drive.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    I am now going to have to close out the diesel vs. hybrid, Toyota vs. VW portion of the thread. As mentioned earlier, it makes my face hurt, and that means I have to start drinking bourbon on the mornings.

    Please feel free to discuss anything else. Or ignore me, if you must.

  • avatar

    I think for Justin’s sanity we all need to change the topic to the benefits of early morning bourbon consumption. Who’s with me?

  • avatar


    Doesn’t everybody drink in the morning?
    But try Lagavulin Single malt…its so much smoother and goes with eggs.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Scotch? Not for the AM – that’s an evening drink for me. Mornings I really try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Only Bourbon, rum, vodka, beer, wine, and gin.

  • avatar

    I didn’t read all the comments so please forgive me if I repeat something. One thing to remember is that you cannot buy the TDI in a base Jetta. You have to purchase it with a standard upgrade which accounts for almost $2K of the price premium. I own a 06 TDI and I have been in a Prius. There is nothing wrong with a Prius but in my opinion you get a more car with a Jetta at the same price point than a Prius. However, a Prius would still probably pencil out as more cost effective. It is just a matter of personal preference. I am very happy with my Jetta.

    Just as an aside, there is no silver bullet when it comes to cars with better mpg. Diesels, hybrids, electrics, they all have there merits and demerits.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A 1998 Jetta TDI and a 2001 Prius actually represent the two vehicles that I had the most second thoughts on selling. As used car values, pre-$4.00 hysteria, they represented a frugalists dream come true.

    The 1998 Jetta TDI was actually a very comfortable highway commuter. As an experiment I took out the rear seats, maxed out the tires, and pretty much used every safe hypermiling tactic out there short of high-risk drafting. Economy was between 55 and 60 mpg but that was with more than my share of neutral cruising on downhills.

    I sold it for a healthy profit (bought it for $2750 earlier this year with only 109k) but I still think that it may have been the perfect car for the type of driving I do. In fact, on speeds higher than 50 mph it could pretty much outperform the Prius. The 09′ will be another story… but the 98′ is a true economy marvel and with biodiesel available to me for $3 a pop the price advantage was certainly there.

    The 2001 Prius I bought back in 2006 for $6650. It had 123k on it and every single service from the first oil changes onward was done by the dealer. However it also had a brand new battery that would have easily cost me $2000 at the time if I needed to replace it myself.

    It was an absolute tomb of quiet and as a town driver for my wife and our two kids, it would have been perfect. Fuel economy would have probably been in the low 40’s real world which is far better than the 20 – 25 mpg my wife usually gets with most of the vehicles I give her to drive.

    Assuming she did 25,000 miles of driving a year… she would have likely saved around $4000 in gas at this point. I sold it for $8900 and I’m sure that even with another 50k on it, I would still be able to sell it for more than my initial purchase price.

    Overall, The Jetta I had was an enthusiast’s car for the DIY’s, the Euro-oriented drivers, highway drivers and for those who want to be very active with hypermiling techniques. The one on sale now may be a better or worse choice for everyone save the DIY’s (complex electronics), but it’s like comparing an 88′ Accord to an 08′ model. They’re totally different machines with virtually no customer overlap in my estimation.

    The Prius is better for those who don’t really car about sporty driving. Those who want anvil levels of reliability, a hatchback, do mostly town driving, and want to help the environment would also do better with the Prius (unless you use high quality biodiesel which makes the last point a debatable one). The current Prius is truly the most influential car of this decade, bar none. I actually prefer the Prior generation though for it’s unique, almost French looks, and the fact that I likely won’t see myself when I round a corner.

    As for the 09′ Jetta, my advice is to have a look see if you love diesels. If you like it more than the 09′ Honda diesel(s), get it. Just be prepared for a ‘non-frugal’ ownership experience because VW’s are quickly becoming the queen of repair costs and niggling electronics issues.

  • avatar

    to Chuckgoolsbee- I feel your pain and ennui regarding the Jetta. I’ve owned over a dozen VW/Audi/NSU autos, and none of them have been Jettas. I just don’t understand the universal appeal of sedans. Instead, I was a Golf guy. But while shopping for my latest TDI, a Golf started seeming both too rare and too familar. So I bought a used New Beetle.

    I don’t know why I didn’t consider it before. It had been a full ten years since the Bug was reborn, and I’d always rejected it as a “chick’s car,” too small for utility, etc. But when I finally considered its place in the family fleet, as a second or third vehicle, I realized it didn’t need much cargo capacity of an adult back seat to serve as my commuter runabout. Then I started looking at MINIs, which recalibrated my sights so that a Beetle’s trunk seemed generous indeed!

    I’m delighted with the New Beetle’s design. The interior is a marvel of simple convenience, once you determine what will and won’t fit n the cupholder. The big glass areas give a great view of the road, the fields, the sky. And this VW is even available in colors beyond red, silver and black. My bright green bug is an attention getter that hardly needs DRLs (good thing, as they don’t work). I get waves from kids and interested questioning at truck stop pumps. It’s fun to get respect from other diesel drivers— especially from that locomotive engineer, just the other day, who laid on the air horn as we passed! Yes, I honked back…

  • avatar

    Justin tried to explain this was NOT a jetta vs prius event!
    He was just trying to give a good car a good review.
    So he asked us to please, PLEASE stop.

    Jesus…does every car have to be compared to that damned thing!?
    Does every damned diesel now automatically get compared to this thing?.
    I can’t wait for the BMW3 diesel ths fall. Wonder hiow it compares to the Prius????

    At least he should know he is not drinking alone in the morning
    There are quite a few of us.

  • avatar

    Me thinks Justin drinks in the morning regardless of whether his face hurts or not. The only question is 1am or 8?

    BTW, real world observed ~2.2L TiD mileage….32 w/many cold winter starts and short trips to 47 (interstate tank-drainers at 10-15mph over posted limits.)

  • avatar

    I don’t think anyone criticizing the ’09 TDI has actually driven it! Diesels are not like gas cars – forget the numbers, and try this thing. The power seems to be in exactly the right place for the way people actually drive; it is a blast! You will see why over 50% of vehicles sold in Europe are diesel – – yes, even over 50% of the BMWs.

    I have a 2003 Jetta TDI. In 70K miles, I have spent $99 in repairs. The VW Diesels are very different and more dependable than the gas cars.

    If you haven’t driven the car you should not criticize.

  • avatar

    I’m confused. Is there any other legitimate reason to buy a diesal vehicle over its gas powered version other than improved fuel mileage?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Diesel engines tend to last longer than gas. In the upper 10% of automotive ownership, I would say there is about a 30% increase in the number of miles a diesel engine will typically go versus a gas counter part.

    On the flip side, diesels usually cost more money to maintain. In the USA, there are also fewer mechanics who are skilled with working on a diesel engine due to their rarity. You can have the overall ownership costs go down if you produce your own biodiesel… which can also effectively eliminate you supporting shitbox dictatorships in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    Finally, diesel engines usually have much higher levels of torque which make them better candidates for towing. They also tend to have more robust components than their counterparts and typically have more power in the lower ranges of their torque curve. This is why most heavy equipment and tow vehicles use diesel engines.

    There are other unique features of diesel engines… but for auto enthusiasts that’s pretty much what you need to know.

  • avatar

    Re: “Is there any other legitimate reason to buy a diesel vehicle over its gas powered version other than improved fuel mileage?”

    I beleive anyone asking that question has certainly not driven a modern Diesel car!

    1. Performance – Fun to drive: With huge torque available even at very slow engine speeds, passing power is instant; no need to down-shift.

    2. Range – go over 600 miles between fillups.

    3. Longevity: Diesels often go well over 300,000 miles with minimal repairs.

    4. Resale value: Much higher than gas vehicles. Do a search used car search for a used VW TDI. Ask someone that owns one how many people have offered to buy theirs.

    Get curious – stop at a VW dealer for a few minutes and drive the new TDI.

  • avatar

    This car will not be reliable. No VW built since 1973 has had any trait resembling reliability. I cannot understand why anybody would voluntairly buy a Volkswagen, they don’t even drive that well. I paid a huge price when I went uninformed and bought a ’86 Jetta Carat. Worst vehicle I have ever owned.

  • avatar

    I have driven the european version of the MY08 Jetta with the 2.0TDI engine & DSG, and I liked it a lot; but fun to drive it is not! Turn is and steering feedback is certainly not too good, you can feel the heavy front end on each turn and undulation. The steering is however nicely weighted, and the rest of the package is classic VW, comfy, good quality etc. It is a peaceful vehicle and one that you would be happy to own for years. The biggest points are won due to the engine-transmisson duo, they match perfectly. The main low points are the following IMHO:
    -wind noise
    -heavy front end
    -wheel slip even in 3rd gear

    all in all I think this car is one of the best cars in its class and worth the extra money, if only they made the chassis sportier, it would be perfect

  • avatar

    Its about time we have some well-priced quiet and clean oil-burners here stateside.
    If CAFE regulations keep in line with their stringent standards, like it or not, diesel engines like the TDI may end up in your future performance cars. Think of a less extreme version of the Audi R8 V12 TDI (possibly a V8 TDI)and there you have it.

  • avatar

    to the Prius fans:

    A good friend bought one of the gen before this one. They liked it, drove it for I think about 7 or 8 years, over 100K miles for sure. I wish I had the actual numbers. In any case, a few years ago, the thing broke down. Toyota estimate to repair was a few bucks shy of $10,000. Friends just tossed it and bought a new one. They love their new one and love Toyota, Al Gore and the environment.
    Me? I’d probably be taking Toyota to court for building what amounts to a throw-away car.
    I threw away a Jeep Cherokee too. But it had over 250,000 miles on it and was 20 years old. Actually didnt toss it, guy gave me $250 and he towed it away. Only the engine was hosed. Tranny and everything else was still operable. YMMV.

  • avatar


    I believe the Golf GT available outside of the US uses a 1.4 litre petrol (gas) engine with a “twincharger” (supercharger + turbocharger) to make its 170hp.

  • avatar

    So, if Prius batteries really last 11 years under harsh duty conditions, why am I replacing my cars’ batteries every 3 to 4 years and cellphone and laptop batteries every year or so?

    Just what is the secret technology behind this wonder battery? Why isn’t Toyota selling laptop batteries?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Just what is the secret technology behind this wonder battery?”

    My understanding is that the biggest issues are very careful control of charge and discharge cycles as well as battery temperatures. In a hybrid car the use of the battery at any given moment is always optional and the controller can be programmed to maximize the battery’s long term lifetime. Laptops and cellphones generally are set up to maximize how long the device keeps working without being plugged in.

    I suspect that there are some hybrid cars on the road now which have used battery packs which exhibit less charged capacity then they did when new, but how would the driver notice? I suppose a very gradual decline in stop-and-go fuel economy might creep in as the battery pack gets older.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    As far as I know, the Golf GT is available in both petrol and diesel forms. The twincharger is, as you say, the 170 bhp petrol option. But I believe the 2.0 TDI also comes in a 167 bhp version. See below:

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt


    No Golf or Jetta in Europa has a common-rail diesel. Those will come with the Mk6 Golf in Autumn. The current models still use the Pumpe-Düse injection system.

    The Golf GT was replaced by the Golf GTSport some time ago, and isn’t limited to the 170ho engines anymore. You can get anything but the 80hp 1.4 gasser in a GTSport. It’s basically an appearance/suspension/sports interior package now.

    For the Mk6 Golf, the 140 and 170 hp twincharger engines will be replaced by a single 160hp twincharger, only available with the new 7-speed dry-clutch DSG. (The old twinchargers were also available with a 6-speed manual)

  • avatar

    Its about time we have some well-priced quiet and clean oil-burners here stateside.

    Again, there is not the refining capacity, nor crude oil flow rate, in the world to switch even a fraction of the North American auto fleet to diesel. While the engine may be great, it’s not a good long term purchase for personal transportation.

    A 42 gallon barrel of crude oil yields 2/3 more gasoline than diesel fuel. Granted there is flux based on the weight of the crude feedstock and the adjustments in the cracking process. For example European refineries are set up to maximize diesel. None the less, you always get more gasoline from crude oil than diesel.

    The global market is very tight and growing for diesel fuel and it will see dramatic shortages long before gasoline will. When, not if, that occurs diesel fuel will most certinaly be rationed to essential services, i.e. agriculture and shipping. Not to mention that heating old is a close relative of diesel.

    Ask any petroleum engineer, it’s not a TDI vs. Prius discussion. It’s a discussion of who will be able to BUY fuel for their car in 10 years.

  • avatar

    F*cking great piece of writing. Except it shall sell. I believe most of those are already pre-sold. Will they save VW in US? You gotta be smelling fumes.

  • avatar

    This car will not be reliable. No VW built since 1973 has had any trait resembling reliability. I cannot understand why anybody would voluntairly buy a Volkswagen, they don’t even drive that well. I paid a huge price when I went uninformed and bought a ‘86 Jetta Carat. Worst vehicle I have ever owned.

    …and yet my 1987 Golf lasted 16 years and 624,000 miles – and my 1997 Jetta is 11 years old, 260,000 miles and still going strong.

    A VW in the hands of a competent owner will last for years. Otherwise, well – see the italicized statement above….

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    I like both the VW TDI diesels & the Prius. Both have their advantages. Currently both are experiencing extreemly low depreciation. I have skimmed thru the previous discussions of the Prius vs the TDI.

    All of you have missed one extremly important point. The price of diesel & gas is going up & in a few years will be much higher than it is today. Yes, I know the price of gas & diesel has recently dropped & will continue to drop until 11/4/08. Then watch it skyrocket once the election is over!

    What is most important to me is fuel economy! In a couple years gas AND diesel will top at least $6 a gallon, likely $7 a gallon & possibly as high as $10 a gallon. I will factor $10 a gallon into any future car purchase & not the current higher price of diesel vs gas.

    I am retired, now 75, but still drive a lot. My next new car will probably have to last me the rest of my life. What I am hoping to see is an affordable plug in hybrid with a 40 mile battery range before the engine kicks in as 80% of drivers drive less than 40 miles a day, 80% of the time.

    However, I am afraid plug in hybrids will cost over $30,000, especially the forthcoming Chevy Volt. I prefer the driving dynamics of the VW over the Prius, especially with a 5 or 6 speed manual but think the Prius will have less maintenance costs over the next 10 years.

    The last I have heard, a complete Prius battery pack would cost $3,000. With VW’s poor reliability, I fear VW’s maintenance costs would equal or exceed possible battery replacement 10 years hence.

    I saw a cut-a-way of VW’s Tiptronic manumatic automatic transmission at the last LA Auto show & I am afraid of it. How much will it cost to replace the clutches on that Tiptronic transmission & what will be that transmission’s lonjivity in stop & go traffic? Also, who will be able to repair it?

  • avatar

    I am not sure why the Jetta’s styling is so disliked. I own both an ’03 Corolla and an ’06 Tdi and find that while there are a few similarities, the Jetta is to my eye, a far better looking car. My only gripe might be the chrome “mustache” grill which it appears VW will fix in 2010 if the Rabbit redesign carries over to the Jetta
    ( Otherwise it is a clean, simple and honest design. The interior is the same way- Straight forward with no bs.

    For 25k miles, my Tdi has been almost flawless: with a 5 spd manual, it is enjoyable to drive both around town and on the highway, the fuel mileage terrific and the interior configuration comfortable for 4 adults with a trunk that will hold plenty. I frequently haul my bicycle around and it fits easily in the trunk with the back seats folded down.

    I could sell this car now for just slightly less than I paid for it in ’06 but I can’t imagine what I would prefer other than perhaps an ’09 with the more powerful engine.

  • avatar
    Jeff Jungblut

    Enough with the Prius vs. Jetta argument. For drivers like me who care about styling, the Jetta is the only option between the two.

    The Prius might as well have been badged the Aztek Junior. But put a Prius drivetrain in a GTI body and I’d buy it.

  • avatar

    One small correction:

    The “GTI’s kid brother” GT does not carry this engine. It carries the 1.4l turbo- and super-charged TSI engine, cranked up to 170hp (as reported at least, it’s really more like 185hp when dyno-ed).

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt


    The GT used to be available with a 170hp diesel or the aforementioned twincharged 1.4 TSI. However the GT has been replaced by the GT Sport in May 2007, which is available with any engine with more than 100hp.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    Why all this STUPID concern about styling? The high American priority for styling is why we have received the JUNK we have received in the USA that is called an “automobile”. My priority in choosing an automobile is: 1)affordability which also includes durability,2)fuel economy,3)handling 4)comfort, 5)utility-should be a hatchback, station wagon, or van,6)safety. 7)Low maintenance. All these factors are, in my opinion far more important than styling. Only if the car is superior in the above 7 priorities, will I consider styling. I bought a then new 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 due to the above factors despite it being one of the uglyist looking cars on the road, from the rear. I also love the Citroen DS-19/21 & diritives which meets most of the above criteria but whose styling some object to, but not me.
    As far as I am concerned, I like the looks of both the new VWs & Prius!

  • avatar

    vento97 :

    “…and yet my 1987 Golf lasted 16 years and 624,000 miles – and my 1997 Jetta is 11 years old, 260,000 miles and still going strong.

    A VW in the hands of a competent owner will last for years. Otherwise, well – see the italicized statement above….”

    Alright. I bought my 1986 Volkswagen Jetta Carat in November of 2006(For 800 dollars), as a winter beater. I owned it from November to Mid March. In the course of those months, the following transpired;

    -The Thermostat Failed, causing the car to overheat. The OEM thermostat I replaced it with failed less than a month later. The Third Thermostat thankfully worked.
    -Left CV axle Boot ripped. Replaced
    -Right one,as If on cue, went 2 days afterwards
    -Starter called it quits. The starter was OEM and only 3 years old.Replaced.
    -The Transmission started clashing when going into second gear. Transmission was properly lubricated and maintained. This would require a new tranny, so I lived with it.
    -Then, The “super-reliable” Volkswagen Engine started burning oil after 10,000km.
    -Oh, and the right rear spring broke.Replaced.
    -Electrical Issues;
    >Turn Signal switch failed in the middle of traffic! Lost both signals.Replaced.
    >Hazard Light Switch failed.Replaced.
    >Both Rear power windows had their motors fail at different times. Fixed both.
    >Front Left power window fell of it’s track.Fixed.
    >Dash lights burnt out.Replaced.
    >The Radio stopped working.Didn’t bother replacing. Due to the fact that the bloody Heater core started to leak. We took this “amazing” vehicle out to a field, smashed it, then lit it one fire. I Found a 1985 Subaru GL-10 4wd Turbo 5-speed Sedan that’s actually reliable, has higher KM’s, and is more fun to drive. Also, everything works!

    Don’t try to tell me VW’s are reliable when they are clearly not.

  • avatar

    Way back in the stone age, I had two Rabbit Diesels. These silly cars made all of 48 Hp, but ran over 180k each, and while it took some time to get there, would hold 85 mph all day.

    My last diesel was a Peugot I rented in Germany. Golf sized, with a 1.4 liter turbo. I had no issues with the taxicabs in Berlin, just shift at 3800 rpms. This car was quiet and didn’t clatter like the olden VW’s, aka “Der Klattervagon”.

    I’d have bought the 330d if BMW sold it here, instead of my 330i. Over 400 ft-lbs of torque are big block numbers !

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    I bought my 1986 Volkswagen Jetta Carat in November of 2006(For 800 dollars), as a winter beater.

    Don’t try to tell me VW’s are reliable when they are clearly not.

    With all respect, I think you’re being a little unfair. It’s a 20 year old car you bought for $800. I mean, you call it a “beater” after all. To expect great reliability is to ask a lot. In any case, who knows how good the previous owners were about maintenance.

  • avatar

    So I actually bought one of these things for my wife for her 30th birthday. Traded in my 2004 Honda Civic hybrid for it too. Now I get to drive her, err, my 1999 Mazda Protege.

    The hybrid and diesel aren’t comparable, even though people will try to. As a single-commuter city car, a hybrid can’t be beaten, particularly with plug-in hybrids appearing. They even do great for cruise-controlled highway driving. Put 3-5 adults in one, try and pass someone on a 2 lane road, expect to accelerate quickly for difficult highway entrances (particularly uphill), or try and accelerate from 55-75 quickly, and you’re not going to be happy. If you have none of these conditions, and don’t have a national-style preference for your cars, buy a hybrid. Also buy a hybrid if you are only financially motivated.

    If you need to do any of those four things a lot (or tow anything), or want to use biodiesel for potential environmental/geopolitical reasons (hoping for algae production :), or really want a European car, get a diesel.

  • avatar

    I took delivery of our 2009 TDI with DSG on August 16th with 11 miles on it. It now has 700+ miles on it. The first tank averaged 40MPG highway (80MPH) and town driving. Yesterday on a highway trip of 100 miles it averaged 43.9 MPG. The first trip of a hundred miles on the same road averaged 39.6 at 80mph.

    I love the car – handling is good – steering is a bit heavy, great acceleration and traffic merging ability, quiet, comfortable, and a blast to drive.

    With the $1,300 tax credit I am a happy camper!

  • avatar

    Don’t try to tell me VW’s are reliable when they are clearly not.

    Anyone who expects an $800 beater to be reliable (without doing proper research on the car) has to have their own reliability questioned…

    If you’re gonna be that easy a mark, I have a bridge to sell you…

    I have logged nearly 1.3 million miles between the four VWs I’ve owned to date. So once again – I assert that with the proper ownership, VWs will last a long time. I have a 27-year track record with them.

    Good luck with your Subaru. Hopefully your track record with vehicles won’t doom it to an early grave.

    “We’ve become a nation of whiners…”
    – Phil Gramm

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    Consumers Reports indicates VWs are not the most reliable of cars. My first VW, & first new car was bought in 1957. In less than a year the chrome started pealing off the front bumper over guard. At 26,000 miles, the transmission started going out, this in 1958. In those days you had to wait 9 months to get a new VW. The VW dealer gave me a choice, $1,000 to repair the transmission or to get a new VW. Prices were different in those days. A new VW then cost $1,600. I traded the VW in on a new Volvo for less than I would have had to pay for a new VW.
    In 1979, I took European delivery of a new Rabbit diesel. It was reliable while I was in the picture but in 1/83 we seperated & later divorced. Three months after the seperation, I was told the heater core sprung a leak & repair cost $600. Don’t know what happened to the VW afterwards.
    Despite this, I have not given up on VWs. I am currently restoring an ’82 Quantum TD wagon that, while it only has 117,000, was treated by its prior owner as a beater. I also have an ’81 Dasher diesel wagon worth restoring plus two ’81 Rabbit diesels which I will either make one good one from two, or sell.
    Frankly, the only reason I am still interested in VWs is because I like diesels due to their superior fuel economy. If we has the choice in “our so called free country” the USA, of diesels that that Europeans have, VW would probably not be on my radar screen. However, I would realy like to be able to buy the 70 MPG VW Polo TDI that Europeans can. Emagine, a first generation Rabbit sized car that can get 70 MPG. Fuel, gas or diesel will probably climb to $7 a gallon in the USA & I wouldn’t be surprised to see $10 a gallon fuel in the USA in my lifetime (& I am 75). I will base future car purchaces on this expetation, even though gas prices are dropping before the 11/08 elections.

  • avatar

    I’ve always felt like one of the reasons the VW gets such low scores for reliability is that you actually do need to take care of them.

    I’m pretty sure that you can skip a couple of routine scheduled checkups on a Honda or Toyota without any ill effects, but doing that with a VW is a bad idea.

    I also think that Consumer Reports is probably factoring in the fact that repair costs are guaranteed to be higher on the VWs.

    We’ll see if anything changes once they start building the Jetta in the US.

  • avatar

    We took Delivery of a 2009 TDI on Monday of this week as well.
    You mentioned a $1,300 tax credit? My dealer did not say anything about this. Where did you get your information? I would like to persue that myself! So far loving the car, 200 miles on the longest highway trip so far. Got 43mpg in rolling hills at 75mph. So far in town, it is getting around 32, while having fun with it! Nice car, decent interior. You have to know it is a diesel to know it is a diesel, (by the sound!)
    Road noise is very low, much less than corolla or Prius, I have spent a lot of time in both those cars. I admit I am quite impressed with Prius, but in the long run, I think diesel is the way to go, especially with the enevitable onslought of biofuels in the next few years. This along with the fun factor of the car, and the ” not everyone has one” was the major factors in getting it.

  • avatar

    Oh, yeh of little faith.

    We’ve just taken delivery of our all new 2009 VW Jetta TDI – Loyal Edition. In one day of driving it, I’m completely impressed with the design, feel, handling and ECOMONY of this car. (FYI, I traded in a 2006 Volvo S60 AWD for this Jetta TDI and I’d consider this a step UP). The interior is every bit as nice as my Volvo was and the ride is just as comperable.

    Now, Let’s discuss a bit of FINANCE 101 —

    Current (Ultra-Low Sulfer) Diesel Price in my area (New England) $4.18 / gallon vs.

    Current “Gas” Prices as follows:

    Regular $3.57
    Mid-grade $3.79
    Premium $3.89

    Okay, before you go flailing your index finger up in the air too high, now lets talk about MPG (ecomomy – based on EPA standards for 2009 – sticker). The 2009 Jetta TDI is listed at 29/44 (this is not realistic, but.. lets just go with it). Most of the economical gas-powered cars are now getting 27/33 (so, the “clean diesel” is getting 2/11 better – right?) Okay, now that we’ve established that… now lets do a simple COST PER MILE analysis:

    Diesel @ 4.19 Gal / 29 mpg (city) = $0.14/mi
    Gas @ 3.57 Gal / 27 mpg (city) = $0.13/mi
    Gas @ 3.79 Gal / 27 mpg (city) = $0.14/mi
    Gas @ 3.89 Gal / 27 mpg (city) = $0.145 / mi

    Diesel engine (Manufacturer’s maintence schedule – every 10,000 miles)@ Avg. cost $49.99 = add’l $0.004999 per mile — added to the above-noted $0.14 / mi = true cost per mile (city) $14.5 cents per mile

    Gas engine (Manufacturer’s maintenence shedule – every 3,000 miles) @ Avg. cost of $29.99 = add’l $0.0099966666 per mile — added to the above-noted $0.13 / mi = true cost per mile (city) $0.14 cents per mile. Is that extra 1/2 cent burning a hole in your pocket yet? Wait, that’s just the cost of Regular Unleaded (now) — if you’re putting in Premium (Volvo, GLI, etc…) your actually spending $0.155 per mile (1 cent MORE per gallon than the diesel)

    Okay So, That’s CITY driving — (Hybrid country), now let’s talk HIGHWAY driving (diesel country) —
    TDI gets 44/mpg @ 4.19 = $0.095 / Gal
    Gas gets 33 / mpg @ 3.57 = $0.108 / Gal

    Add: Maintenence per above-noted schedule(s):

    Diesel true cost (Highway) $0.10 / mi
    Gas true cost (Highway) $0.14 / mi (as calc. against “regular” unleaded prices)

    I’m taking my $0.04 savings per Gallon ($480 – $600 / year savings in fuel costs when calculated against 12,000 – 15,000 miles per year avg. annul miles driven) and paying my FULL insurance premium. For those of you supplying the oil company profits with your “Premium” fuel-required vehicles… I’m having a nice few weekends too!

    As a final FINANCE 101 note– The $1,300 IRS Credit (see for more info) for the 2009 VW Jetta TDI will pay the property tax +++

    It’s real nice also that I’m not impacting the enviroment (0 emmissions) and I’m driving a head-tuning VW Jetta TDI that will be just warming up when it hits 100,000 miles — how will your gas-powered clunker be at that time? How much will your’s be worth then? And mine?

    Now, onto the road… past the gas stations and dealerships.

    Now, that’s “zoom, zoom, zoom”.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    All this math to determin cost for mile at current fuel prices. After 11/4/08 fuel prices will start rising. You should compute the cost per mile at $5 a gallon, $6 a gallon & $10 a gallon. If the current crop of hurricanes does a number on the off shore & costal oil wells, best start figuring these costs next month.

  • avatar

    VW Group overtakes Ford for #3 worldwide:

  • avatar
    Al Snow

    Sehr Gute Nachprüfung. Ich habe Englisch besser gelesen als ich kann schreiben/kann tippen.

  • avatar

    @Warjoe :
    You are just justifying your purchase, which you don’t have to do here. The numbers are off, badly. First off, those gasoline engine MPG ratings are way off, because in reality, most gasoline powered vehicles don’t get even close to 27 MPG in the city. On the highway 33 is acceptable. Second, you don’t have to do an oil change every 3000 miles on a gas powered vehicle, you can do it every 7500 miles, and unlike diesel engines, you can actually run synthetic 5w20 in a gas engine. In a diesel it doesn’t show any benefits, heck, I don’t even recommend it. What are you running, 15w40 Rotella? Also, with a diesel like that, you should fill your oil and check your gas. I used to drive trucks for a living, and owned a couple of VW vehicles. Small diesel engines aren’t that great, and nothing is free with a diesel. Also, fixing that engine when the 60,000 mile warranty is over will be expensive. Am injector here, a turbo there, you know how it is. I find it ironic that a small car with a small diesel engine like the VW TDI 1.9 had such a hard time complying with CAFE requirements, but a diesel guzzling SUV like a VW Toureg with a V10 Turbo diesel is ok, and so is a Dodge RAM with a 6 cylinder Cummins Turbo diesel under the hood that rivals the fuel economy of a Freighliner truck (like the one I used to own). Congrats on your purchase sir, and I would be very grateful to you if you could post some real world fuel economy numbers here. If fuel prices will get up to $8~$10/gal. then I might go and look at one (a VW Jetta TDI that is).

  • avatar

    wolfman3k5 –
    A few points: The VW TDI uses 5-40 synthetic oil; later ones have a very specific requirement or it voids the warranty. Oil changes are done every 10,000 miles.

    CAFE and emissions requirements are based on GVW; trucks and SUVs fall into a different category.

    I have a 2003 Jetta TDI I bought used with 44.000 miles on it a bit over 2 years ago. I now have 116,000 and have recorded every penny I have put into it. So far, it has been the least expensive car I have ever owned in terms of cost per mile – and the most dependable. Lifetime average of fuel, repairs and maintenance is 9.5 cents per mile (fuel alone = 6.8 cents/mi). With fuel increase, price is higher now but only a few times have I gone over 10 cents per mile on fuel cost alone. I am now running about 8.5 cents per mile on fuel. Since the resale value is very high for used TDI, this makes overall ownership costs extremely low.

    I am a salesman and make 15+ calls per day. My lifetime average is about 46.5 MPG and recently has increased – last 5 tanks (3309 miles) I averaged 49 MPG in mixed driving with A/C on half the time. I can send a spreadsheet showing details of 118 fuel-fills. Engine is in superb shape; I have sent my oil out to have it analyzed a few times; results are excellent.

    My results are typical of what many other users experience who have 200 or even 300,000 miles with minimal repairs. Visit to see others with similar experience.

  • avatar

    About time they brought the 2.0 TDi here in the US, but still why no 170HP version, this is America, land of HP obsessed people. They really shot themselves in the foot using the ship anchor 1.9 for so long.

    Anyway, put this engine in Golf VI 5door (and call it a golf….), and have a GT esque styling package, with recaro style seats (and tartan cloth), and I will look seriously at one for a daily commuter.

  • avatar

    I put a deposit on a new Jetta Wagon TDI in the spring with an anticipated delivery in September 2008. I just heard back from my dealership that the TDI wagons won’t arrive until late January 2009. Nevertheless, I test drove the demo and it’s all it’s cracked up to be!!!

  • avatar

    A high-tech diesel engine makes more sense to me than a low-tech gasoline engine which is grafted to an electric blender which is grafted to 600 pounds of golf cart batteries. But owning a Toyota makes more sense than owning a Volkswagen. So what is a performance-loving, Consumer-Reports-subscribing, Church of Global Warming parishioner supposed to do?

    My suggestion is to move closer to work, and drive whatever the hell you want with a clear conscience. Anything else is just gadgetry masquerading as self-righteousness.

  • avatar

    Did you notice the VW TDI won the ‘Green Car of the Year’ award? See Look closer at Consumer Reports. VW is looking much better. What more do you need to feel good about having a Green performance car?

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    I’m glad I have to eat crow re my gas/diesel price predictions, but I don’t think we will enjoy these low gas prices for long. I wonder how serious VW is about selling TDIs? Local VW dealers are currently getting $4000 over MSRP whereas local Toyota dealers are now discounting new Prius’ $1000 under MSRP. This is in the Sacramento area but don’t know about the rest of the country. Could it be that VW is limiting TDI sales to keep the CARB happy? Or is TDI supply limited thru out the USA with MSRP plus a waiting list & dealer packs over MSRP the norm?

  • avatar

    Hey tommyt,

    You got me on the Consumer Reports thing – sort of. VWs are being recommended because they drive well and they convey a sense of tactile quality. But the few bright spots in recent reliability scores offer faint hope against VW’s long and crappy legacy.

    It took 6-8 years of solid reliability gains for people to start trusting Hyundai. People will probably trust VW in half that time, because they WANT to, but we’re not there yet.

  • avatar

    William J,

    VW’s diesel technology makes sense regardless of gas prices, which I suspect will stay well below last summer’s highs for a long, long time. That was a speculative bubble which has now burst.

    The Hybrid craze is already dying. In 3-5 years there will be tens of thousands of these goofy golf carts hitting the used car market with dead battery packs. What other outcome could there logically be?

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    I prefer the diesel to the hybrid technology but both are of interest to me. I prefer the VW diesel since it has better handling and I do more long distance than short stop start driving for which the hybrid is more suited. However, I wouldn’t knock the Prius as a glorified golf cart. I have talked to several who own them and have yet to hear any Prius owners bad mouth them. It is just the opposite, all seem very satisfied with them. As to the estimated $3000 replacement cost of batteries, in Calif. the Prius batteries are warrented for 10 years or 150,000 miles. At my age of 75, a Prius would make more economic sense as it would probably remain within warrenty the rest of my driving life & even factoring in a $3000 replacement cost for batteries in 10 years, the Prius would probably be cheaper to own than a TDI.
    What no one answered, is the nationwide sales price norm for TDIs, full MSRP plus a dealer added profit of up to $4000? Or is this just going on in Calif.? From what I have heard, the 2010 Prius is susposed to be much improved, better MPG and a plug in option to compete with the Chevy Volt (If GM survives bankruptsy) Also, for 2010 I hear we will have a new Honda Insight (actually spring 2009) hybrid at a lower price than a Prius. Also Hyundai has some plans in the wings of lithium polomar technology which they claim is superior to batteries planned the the Volt. In gas prices remain low (I hope your prediction is right), I will be able to continue driving my 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 5 speed (MPG stinks) until I finish restoring my 1982 VW Quantum turbodiesel wagon, and avoid new car payments until I have a greater choice of affordable 50 MPG cars.

  • avatar

    William, as TonyTiger illustrates above, the glowing reviews of Prius owners cannot be trusted. These folks subscribe to a higher calling – the Church of Global Warming as I refer to it – and are not prone to giving objective critiques of their Messiah.

    With all due respect, you are not even a “parishioner” yet and you are already using arbitrary Volkswagen markups and even your own mortality to rationalize the Prius’ high maintenance costs. Imagine how vigorously someone who has actually spent money on a Prius – just before gas prices plummeted – will defend it.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    My main interest is fuel economy in a car that is fun to drive & reasonably safe. I believe we are experiencing climate change but not sure if human activity is contributing much to it. I believe in conserving petroleum as it is a finate resource which we should save for future generations to the extent that is reasonably possible. That said, my personal preference would be, If I were to buy a car today, would be a VW TDI Sportwagon vs a Prius. However, I am not willing to pay a premium above MSRP for any car! I know that VW dealers are getting away with this in the Sacramento area. My question still hasn’t been answered. Are VW dealers doing this nationwide or is VW limiting TDI supply in Calif. to satisfy our CARB anti diesel Nazis?

  • avatar

    “the glowing reviews of Prius owners cannot be trusted. These folks subscribe to a higher calling – the Church of Global Warming”

    I don’t see it being any different. There are unbiased people who love both Priuses and Diesels, just as there are loony fanatics that evangelize each.

    Prius is out for me because I like to shift for myself, but I Bet maintenance will be much higher on the VW diesel, especially if you go automatic that adds to the already high VW regular maintenance bill. VW TDI also has a timing belt, the Prius has timing chain. How much does VW charge for belt swaps?

    Next the claims about super longevity diesels don’t apply anymore today than do claims of smoke belching diesels. This is completely new design, with ultra high pressure, high tolerance injectors, A complex, multi-catalyst emission system all with shorter warranty than on the Prius battery.

    But I am not looking at either. The Subaru Diesel peaks my interest, but I will see what fuel prices stabilize at when it comes out.

    But if like today. It gets ~25% better MPG but fuel costs ~25% more, then it is a complete non starter, what is the point paying a diesel engine premium of a couple of thousand bucks to buy a car that really doesn’t save you money at the fuel pump in the end and will likely have increased maintenance costs as well.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    Reply to Bytor.I think you analyzed the Prius vs TDI issue correctly.I prefer shifting for myself but think the Prius would be less costly in the long run. In Calif. the Prius hybrid system & battery are warrented for 10 years or 150,000 miles.I am 75 years old & there is a strong likelyhood a Prius would last me the rest of my life.
    Right now I can’t afford either a new Prius or TDI unless I can sell my diesel pusher motorhome & my ’54 Hudson Hornet. In the meen time I will probably fix up my ’82 VW Quantum & ’81 Dasher wagons. Both are diesels. The Quantum has a turbodiesel & 5 speed transmission & the Quantum is a non turbo & has a 4 speed trans.

  • avatar


    I am looking for a new car in 2010, earlier if my ZX2 breaks down seriously before then.

    I will probably test drive the new 2010 Prius because I really shouldn’t judge it’s drive-ability without getting behind the wheel. It really doesn’t have a transmission at all so it might prove interesting + they might be boosting the power a bit.

    Best of luck with what ever you choose, and outlasting the warranty. :-)

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    Reply to Bytor & others. You are doing the smart thing by researching what car you might buy. You have a Ford ZX2 & I have a ZX3 with 114,xxx miles on it plus a back up car, a 1995 Olds Ciera wagon with a little over 60,000 miles on it & in excellent shape. I don’t know where you live but for the first time in Calif., Toyota is offering a $1,000 rebate on the Prius. I have heard the 2010 Prius is susposed to come out this spring with even more power & better MPG. Also, the new 2010 2ed generation Honda Insight is susposed to come out. From pictures of it that I have seen, it looks a lot like a Prius & is susposed to sell for less, & offer even higher MPG than a Prius! It would be nice to see the diesel Suburu over here that the Europeans have. If you can wait a couple years, maybe we will have more competition in fuel efficient cars. Ford is susposed to bring its European Fiesta to the USA this spring too, but only with a 40 MPG gas engine for the first year, but also the 70 MPG diesel Fiesta for 2011.

  • avatar

    I would take this any day over the ugly Prius. Now VW just needs to do something about the budget Walmart Corolla 15K exterior.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @ponchoman49 :
    Now VW just needs to do something about the budget Walmart Corolla 15K exterior.

    In Europe, the Golf VI has a much nicer interior than the V. Expect a similar update to the Jetta soon (The euro-spec wagon will get the new look in autumn, and that’s made in Mexico, so the Jetta should be updated at the same time)

  • avatar

    I have a 2006 Jetta GLI with 46,OOO miles that is at the a 3 year lease. It’s been a great car, performance and handling, mileage just OK, but I”m using regular gas instead of premium at several mechanics advice.
    Question: I’m thinking either of buying it outright, or going to a new TDI for the diesel, or even a new 2009 GLI , though I have to go to “Autobahn” edition to get all the features I have now– leather, sunroof, etc…
    Do you think keeping the 2006 and taking it to old age will be a good strategy? or go for more new stuff now?
    thanks in advance.

  • avatar

    “In the past five years, Volkswagen has had its pants around its ankles.. . . the brand once known for frugality didn’t have U.S. products that could compete on fuel economy.”

    Huh? in the last five years, VW has been building better cars than it has in a long, long time (I had an ’87 GTI, let me tell you about CV joint life..).

    As for fuel economy, I don’t think VW has been struggling along the lines, of say, GM. No Suburbans in this fleet! They hardly are being houded by CAFE requirments.

    “This 100 horsepower oil burner was first built in 1820. The metalsmith used bronze, and then died from boredom. Although VW has been selling the 1.9 as a car engine of late, in the 1920s it was marketed as a “Clatterynoisedervish;” a device designed exclusively for frightening pigeons. And though the 1.9 could deliver some 40+ MPG highway, it was mostly out of necessity; if you stopped for fuel, you ran the risk of your passengers refusing to get back into the car.”

    They pay you to write this shit? Because that’s what it is, shit.

    Why not let someone who can do more than read a press release write the articles? Sheesh! Crib from Wikipedia, for chrissake. Anything but that sort of drivel.

    Does your Momma know you write like this?

  • avatar

    “I have a 2006 Jetta GLI with 46,OOO miles that is at the a 3 year lease. Do you think keeping the 2006 and taking it to old age will be a good strategy? or go for more new stuff now?
    thanks in advance.”

    Unforunately, everyone I know who has tried to “buy the car at the end of the lease” has ended up getting hosed. The dealers, for some reason, rather than making a simple, clean transaction, would rather sell or lease you a new car.

    Perhaps that has changed today. Car companies are shying away from leases now and promoting purchasing of cars (they got burned by poor resale values). So perhaps they might deal. But go armed with Edmunds, KBB, and NADA resale data and drive a hard bargain. Otherwise, you’d be better off just turning in the ’06 and buying another one from a private party.

    Leasing sucks – it is about the most expensive way to go about driving a car.

    As for cost savings on a diesel, do the math. Diesel fuel is more expensive in this country, and the payback based on milage versus the increased cost of the diesel engine can take years and years (if ever).

    Throw in the massive depreciation and the transaction fees in buying a brand new car, and no, it makes no sense financially at all.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and so am I. To me, styling should be the last consideration in choosing a car. To me, safety, economy, handling, comfort and utility should always take priority over styling. I bought what was in my opinion, one of the uglyist looking cars on the road because its price/value and affordibility, was superior in the other areas. That car was a 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 hatchback which I bought new for $11,643 out the door including Calif. tax and license, half the price of a VW TDI or Prius at that time. I am disapointed in the Focus’ fuel economy but it has been one of the most reliable trouble free cars I have ever owned and I am 75 years old.

    In my opinion both the VW Jetta and Prius are good looking cars but beauty in in the eye of the beholder. However, to reject either of these fuel efficient cars because of styling is beyond me! It is this STUPID American attitude of putting styling ahead of all other vehicle priorities that got the American auto industry in the problems they now have. I don’t care if a car is a “moms car”(minivans)or “girls car”(VW). My automotive priorities are: 1) affordability, 2)fuel economy, 3)utility (hatchback, minivan, or stationwagon hauling flexability, 4)handling, 5)durability, 6)safety, 7)comfort, 8)ease of maintenance (most new cars are bad in this area). Only after all these priorities are met, would I consider styling. To put styling ahead of any of these priorities is STUPID!

  • avatar

    I would be concerned about VW customer service. View my VW experience at:

  • avatar

    I’d buy the 2.0 TDI in a heartbeat. I have the ’06 1.9, drive 30,000 miles a year, average over 40 MPG in mixed driving and haven’t had a day in the shop other than scheduled maintenance. I did cross shop the Prius, and as a driver’s car, esp. if you do lots of highway mile, there’s no comparison.

  • avatar

    I have ordered the 2009 VW TDI Sportwagen and cannot wait for it to arrive. Have driven too many gas guzzlers. Prices on gas aren’t going to stay this low. Diesel fuel in my area (near Austin, TX) is about $1.89 to $2.10 right now. Performance and mechanics, etc are more important than looks, but this is not as butt ugly as some of you have noted!

    The dealership I am buying from is in Georgetown, TX and is NOT price gouging. They are selling at MSRP because they cannot keep them in stock, as they are in HIGH demand. Also, the routine maintenance is free for the first three years and the IRS gives buyers a $1300 tax break on your income taxes because of the engine.

    I did cross shop the Prius but it does not have the performance, comfort, space, etc that I am looking for. When I drove the TDI demo, it was clear that the TDI was way superior.

    Looks like many of you are using past biases when looking at this vehicle. This a new diesel from VW and has been getting only rave reviews. Give it a chance.

    Lastly, a below $20,000 diesel wagen-type vehicle is in your dreams.

  • avatar
    William J Toensing

    With our Bush Depression going on, it may pay to shop around. I recall seeing an add on the San Francisco Bay area Craig’s List for new TDI’s with a $1000 discount of of MSRP. Don’t know if the VW dealer in the Roseville Auto Mall (Sacramento, CA) is still gouging at $4000 over MSRP since I can’t afford one at a discount. I am a diesel fan and have been following diesels and biodiesel cars for sale on the Sacramento and SF Bay area Craig’s Lists and find lots of diesel cars are not selling, especially late model TDIs at bloated prices. Why anyone would pay $20,000 and up for a 2005 or 2006 TDI when new 2009 TDIs are available for $1000 or $2000 more is beyond me. Most of the diesel cars I see for sale on Craig’s List are older Mercedes Benz (’87 & older) and newer VW TDIs with an occasional BMW 524D, Volvo & Peugeot diesels showing up.

  • avatar

    I looked around this area and they are not charging above the MSRP. Not going below it either. I live in the Texas Hill Country. The Jetta TDI will be much more fun to drive on these winding roads than a Prius. I’m happy with my choice. I just have to wait for it’s arrival towards the end of April, early May.

    This made in Mexico which concerned me. My sales person said that they used to have some problems with that plant, but the “powers that be” went down there and shaped it up. He said the cars coming from there are better than some of the other VW plants. I have never owned a German vehicle and am looking forward to this one. I will post my opinion when I have driven it a while.

  • avatar

    Because of this review, I recently went to the local VW dealership and test drove the Sportwagen TDI. Found out:

    1. They have two with Manny-Trannys; Silver and Salsa Red, both with Panaramic sunroof. Nice.
    2. Both cost a little over $25K, no added markup. Nice.
    3. Both come with a host of standard features, missing the $1700 navigation upgrade, which can be added later. Nice.
    4. Both have interesting lease options. Again, nice.
    5. The dealership guy was actually friendly and didn’t try to convince me toward another model. Sweet.
    6. VW isn’t going to go bankrupt anytime soon so my warranty will be good. Nice.
    7. A Jetta TDI Sportwagen is a statement, A Toyota Prius is an appliance.

    Lets get back to the alcoholic beverage preference for the morning already.

  • avatar

    Bought a new 2009 VW Jetta sedan TDI with DSG.
    $25659.81 included NYS sales tax, March 14, 2009, minus trade-in.

    2500 miles on Odometer.

    Average 38 mpg city/ 42 mpg highway.

    A rush to drive. 0-60 in approx. 8.2 sec.

    Does not compare with my 70’s Rabbit desiel I once owned. (48 hp with 4 spd manual transmission)

    Traded in a 2004 Honda Accord EX. 4cyl. 5 speed manual. Jetta is just as fast, maybe faster. Handles better. Same footprint as wife’s 2006 Civic but with the interior room, comfort and seating position of the ’04 Accord. (2009 Accord is a foot longer than VW, too big.)

    Great car so far.

  • avatar

    We just reviewed this car, and I was floored with it. I expected it to be good, but nearly as good as it was. I can easily recommend this car to anyone.

    We traveled from Raleigh, NC to Washington DC, around DC and back to Raleigh on less than a tank of diesel! It ended up being around 46mpg, and right now diesel is the same price as regular unleaded gasoline. What a great car.

    Here’s our review:

  • avatar

    Comparing the 2009 VW Jetta TDi to the 2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure they are both fruit, but they are completely different vehicles with completely different drivetrains. I like the fact that we are moving forward in trying to find new solutions to fight the energy crisis. I like the VW Jetta TDi because it’s emissions are much cleaner that the emissions from a gasoline engine if consuming ultra low sulfur diesel. I also like the fact that a diesel gets on average 10-30% better fuel economy than its gasoline counterpart. But if we are truly going to compare the two then maybe we should consider Volkswagen’s Diesel-Electric Hybrid. The big three in America built prototypes of these over a decade ago, but because Ultra low sulfur diesel wasn’t available at the time, they didn’t meet the emissions requirement, until now. Diesel-Electric Hybrids will out perform all gas-electric hybrids out there. VW put this power plant in it’s VW Golf and the emissions were next to nothing and the fuel consumption shamed the prius. GM made a diesel electric hybid concept for it’s impala in 2003 and it had an estimated city fuel economy of 70 mpg, and a highway fuel economy of 125 mpg. I’m holding out for one of those!

  • avatar

    anyone want to take over my lease on a ’09 subaru wrx? i want this car bad!!!!

  • avatar

    Justin, you missed 2 big points of this car that are important to many, but not obvious from a drive:

    RESALE: At 300,000 miles, this car will still fetch over $10,000 whereas any gas-powered Japanese car that lasts that long will fetch $20/ton

    SAFETY: If you get t-boned by an SUV in a European-designed car you still have a good chance of living. But in a Japanese or American enono-box … not so much so. My wife is going into court as a witness for the insurance company. She was in the front of the traffic 8 months ago when a large dump-truck blew a red light at over 50 MPH and t-boned a new-model Jetta sedan. They called off the air-ambulance when they found the woman driving the Jetta was in stable shape with no serious injuries. The car was a few inches narrower, but still had the windshield in place (completely shattered) and the door and hood latches still operated. I think some of the paramedics are considering Jettas for their next vehicle after that crash….

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