Edmunds Claims "World's First Test of Jetta TDI." Huh?

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz
edmunds claims worlds first test of jetta tdi huh

TTAC tested a private car August 15.

Lieberman tested a press car September 19.

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  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Sep 26, 2008
    “The VW microbus and its derivatives was sold in over 140 countries and dominated the vehicle class in each market until `79.” It had no competition… I don't know whether it dominated any markets or not but there was plenty of competition. I drove a late 80s Mercedes passenger van - think extended Dodge full-sized church van but with the length added to the middle rather than to the rear end. A much better vehicle than a Dodge. It was a naturally aspirated five cylinder (?) five speed. Really a tough van. Drove it ~400 miles one weekend. Fiat has the Ducato van. Drove the 2.5 four cylinder non-turbo diesel all over Naples, Italy for three years. "Five on the tree". I liked the column shifter. Drove well, rode pretty good, jumped well, etc. The turbo version was even better. Steering column flexed up and down a little which I did not like. Very plain interior and exterior but I'd own one for the right price. Fiat also had a van called the Panorama. It has a 900cc rear mounted water cooled inline gasoline four cylinder with a four speed manual. I think of it as a derivative of the VW van b/c it also had a swing axle rear end. It was tiny but still capable of carrying six adults and some luggage. We drove the wheels off of these vans. They truly defined legs as your crumple zone. They were excellent vehicles for city streets and short distances. Easy to rollover though so they were definitely best for low speeds and traffic. These are just the vans I knew best. Every manufacturer had a van or a people carrier in their lineup and most still do today. Europeans have always had alot of variety to choose from. However we Americans have to keep in mind that some of their products are best suited for short distances. The VW van is a great example. I have owned two over the years. I have one now. It's a '78 Westfalia that still needs a couple final touches on a Corvair implant. Needs electrical (3 wires), some final custom sheetmetal fab for the cooling, and the fuel lines connected. I also transplanted the Corvair four speed manual tranny. Good fit. Why did I do this? Because the van is over 4,000 lbs and came with a 67 horsepower low compression four cylinder. It is a good engine for the era of 55 mph highways but I'd prefer to run 65 mph and not crawl the hills. Its the interstate speed differentials that worry me the most. The van was originally designed for local trips carrying people to and from hotels, weekend trips to the lake or delivering packages in Germany. Excellent vehicle for that even today. It will run at it's top speed of ~80 mph too b/c VWs are like that. The engine is wound tight though and ear plugs would be welcomed. Like a motorcycle you adjust your driving skills to best suit the vehicle's attributes. This is where VWoA messed up again. They really should have offered a flat-six version which would have allowed lower rpms and the same performance. Add to that a close ration five speed with a final drive a little higher than the four speed my van came with. On the other hand the chassis is at it's limits about the same time the engine is so maybe the original four is the right engine to keep people out of trouble. Lots of body-roll. The Vanagon's improvements addeda lot of complexity but it also added the refinements that the van needed. Vans like mine exhibited lots of windy day wandering at interstate speeds as well. This is often a function of the tires as well. It seems tire stores think the VW van weighs the same as a small car b/c they too often fit small car tires which are then running at their weight capacity or even over loaded with the VW vans empty. The average consumer doesn't know this and doesn't understand why the van wanders so badly. Good tires make a big difference. The crumple zone upfront is better than you might think. I can't comment on the 60s vans but the '68 thru '79 vans were pretty tough. The Vanagons from '80 through '91 were better. The Eurovan was even better yet. I would still like to own a Eurovan Weekender. Still not rich yet either. If you strike a large object like a cow or moose with the 70s vans the impact spreads out and ruins the front end. You'll be able to stop and pull over unhurt if you have your belt on. If you strike something like a small car the van tends to ride up and over the front of the car causing catastrophic damage to the car and it's occupants. The van will protect the van's driver and passengers pretty well. The van will get totaled but not the van's riders. The problems begins when the van strikes something like a pole or wall or semi-truck but then it doesn't matter what you are driving, you're in serious danger. Yeah I agree, I'd rather be in some big domestic vehicle too. The are some pictures on the web from collisions people have had in VW rear-engined vans and they walked away. There is a video on YouTube however where a VW Vanagon doublecab is run into a solid barrier. I read somewhere the test vehicle carried a 1,000 load at 60 mph into the barrier. As I recall the full sized Ford F-150 didn't do to well even without a loadin a lower speed crash. Not this bad of course but hauling a load behind the cab at any speed is more dangerous than we usually think about. FWIW I would like the see the average size of the American fleet go down. If we were all driving cars of more modest weight and strength then we'd all fair better in vehicle to vehicle crashes. As it is now anybody not driving an SUV has to worry about getting squashed like a bug. I still find it interesting to see a VW camper in good condition. Folks either did not take care of them, folks who could not care for them bought them second hand, or they got all used up. Still after ten+ years of ownership, I find mine very useful and an interesting ride.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Sep 26, 2008

    I wish I could make a sticky for this discussion. It has a lot of brilliant information. We'll just have to agree to disagree on what defines a 'minivan'. Here's a fascinating discussion on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minivan To me, the VW T1's thru T4's have been designed as the quintessential European van. The commercial applications for it, prioritization of space over comfort, and exceptionally high seating position all reflect van origins. VW even defines it that way and has saw fit to have these vehicles be marketed that way. But the above link also makes a good case that I'm wrong. So I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I think the VW has some good points. But comparing it to the Chrysler Minivans is like comparing a Dodge Dart to a Honda Accord. They are two totally different designs in concept and in application. But the Chrysler models were absolutely dominant in the Americas in a way that no vehicle of the past 25 years has been able to duplicate. Unlike the Bus, the Chrysler minivans were diligently focused as personal family transportation. A few of the firsts in this segment included... 1) Dual sliding doors (1996) 2) Integrated child safety seats (1992) 3) Driver's side airbag (1991) 4) Dual airbags (1994) 5) Middle Row Captains's Chairs (1991) 6) 2nd row fold flat seating (2005) 7) Integrated child booster seats (2008) 8) 2nd Row seats that could turn 180 degrees (2008) Notice how virtually all the innovations are orientated towards a family's needs. The family is the minivan market. It was also the first minivan in the NA market to offer ABS as well as the first to pass the 1998 safety standards which were exceptionally stringent for their time. By the way, did I mention 17 quintillion cupholders? All kidding aside, the 1st generation Chrysler minivans were the first modern minivans that offered a genuine family focused design, better fuel efficiency, and a stronger safety record than traditional vans. Which is why over 10 million have been sold at this point. You may look at it as a quintessential American vehicle. But I would argue that it was those very qualities and focus that made it such an exceptional van in the first place.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Sep 26, 2008

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGKlWqSadlQ Note that around 3 mins they test the Vanagon against an American "limousine". FWIW I saw many Italians hiring very ordinary American sedans as wedding departure vehicles. Oldsmobiles, Buicks, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pityxv0DW7M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwa9vdq8dvw Now back to Edmunds and the Jetta. Is Edmunds still publishing invoice pricing for vehicles or have they quit or watered it down yet? Was useful in 1999 when we bought our then new CR-V. I wonder if gas prices hovering around $3.50 will lead more small and medium sized wagons to the market. Anybody got an opinion?