By on May 31, 2013

“Have you driven the new Jetta Hybrid?” popped up in my Faceache message box. It came from Captain Leslie, an E-3 Sentry driver, consummate professional, a current Jetta TDI pilot (with a manual), and friend from a tour in the Middle East and Oklahoma City. Unable to resist her profile smile, I went in search of the elusive electrically motivated VW in a sea of 2.5L sorority mobiles. As she has saved my ass in the past, I shall attempt to repay the favor. Leslie, skip the Hybrid, get another TDI… but make sure its a Golf…wagon…in brown…with a manual.

Capt Leslie and her 185K mile, manual TDI

Sajeev pointed out my fondness for VAG products and warned me to be vigilant in my impartiality (cough, Panther Love for all) to render a verdict in true TTAC fashion. Having owned numerous Audis, a SEAT Toledo V5, Golfs, and a MKV Jetta TDI, I might have difficulty. But no, thank you VW for screwing up the Jetta enough to make this issue a nonstarter!

The latest Jetta does not live up to the previous generation. Before me was a stretched mk4 Jetta, only missing some of the details (Vellum Venom here). The MK VI Jetta looks attractive enough; readily identifiable as a Volkswagen, with neat creases, and all that Euro technocracity. But it’s a bit boring compared to the beauties made in Korea. The MK IV forged a bold path and the MK V at least caused controversy, however VW played it too safe with the MK VI. At least it’s not ugly.


The Jetta’s most interesting external aspect are the taillights: sporting a complex lighting pattern for a slightly upscale look. And…thats it.

The taillights are especially helpful when attending accident scenes.

Step inside: virtually identical, the Jetta TDI and Hybrid showcase the latest in Germanic interior design: perfectly aligned plastic, a cutting edge notion in 1979 when Audi switched to black plastic in the Audi 4000 over the faux wood in the Fox. It’s straight forward, easy to use and looks like it’ll last forever, but exhibits no flair or panache. I’m thinking VW hired a hipster and they rehashed the mk5 interior…but ironically.

The comfortable seats still impress. The leatherette is attractive and will prove durable. Space is good, with the biggest complaint coming from the Hybrid, where the battery pack robs crucial trunk room, and makes the rear seat pass through about 30% smaller than the regular TDI.

Now about that infamous plastic dash. I know why VW equipped the low and mid-range Jettas with an injection molded dashboard so hard that Viagra should file a patent lawsuit:  Americans do not touch the dash, or care about squidgy bits like the Europeans, or so I have been told. They care about price and value for money.

Nicely put together, but not exciting to look at.

This fact explains why most Americans buy Corollas. VW once stood in a “just above average” slot, slightly aspirational and cool but avoiding BMW douchiness. Catering to a cheaper price point made VW just another player in this saturated market.

“But look at the engineering precision and how well it’s put together!” say the engineers (or more likely the marketers). Yes, the engineers dotted their “i’s” with this design, but failed to realize they spelled penis instead of pencil.

I learned in Germany that you don’t buy a Golf for looks, as the Focus and anything French blow it away. You buy one for the dependability and the drive, true VW trademarks in the homeland. The Jetta, a be-trunked extension of the Golf philosophy, should follow this mantra of safe looking, yet wholly hooligan mannerisms. Flogging the TDI and Hybrid like I stole them, I found that not all is lost in Wolfsburg.

The TDI with a manual induces grins from the open road to city traffic. With the 2.0L, direct injected, common-rail diesel, VW engineered the finest motivator in the American line-up. Wind it up to the low redline and feel a surge of torque launching you through traffic. The numbers on paper suggest a middling 0-60 time but the thrust provided in real-time proves most addictive. I found myself punching the throttle just to induce grins.

Pitching the car into a corner netted more surprises. The front end moved around a corner like a GTI. Generous applications of the throttle failed to induce excessive understeer, or surprising amounts of torque steer. The Jetta TDI hunkered down and blew through the apex with a bit of turbo whistle. Wow.

I think the average looks and interior were a ruse so the police think you can’t possibly speed in an efficient bar of soap.

I also found lift-off oversteer very possible with more speed and ham-fisted steering inputs. Careening around University Ave intersection onto the Marsha Sharp Freeway, I could lift off the throttle, step out the back-end and nail the go pedal in true Nürburgring fashion while netting an honest 40mpg. The cheap trailing beam rear suspension was not a handling detriment save for the fiercest bumps, which allowed just a bit of skipping. The steering was alive and communicative, provided you ignore the slightly artificial electric feel at lower speeds.

So what of the Hybrid? The “green” Jetta handles exactly the same, yet the leather wrapped steering wheel was a tad nicer. The same wonderful corner entry and roll transition urge you on to illegal speeds. The main difference? Power delivery: the TDI surges while the Hybrid just….goes.


Instead of a tachometer denoting engine revs, a dial ranging from 1-to-10 presents a percentage of available power currently being utilized. A tantalizing “boost” zone glares at you past the 10 mark. My goal was to live in “boost” as much as possible. Not the point of a hybrid, but I am still an enthusiast. I kick Priuses like the Taliban kick puppies!

The Hybrid proves an engaging drive, with a lackluster engine note and not quite sharp throttle responses. The TDI emerges as the clear driver’s victor, especially when real world fuel economy figures are factored in. The Hybrid says 48mpg highway to the TDI’s 42, but the TDI managed 40mpg in mixed driving, with the Hybrid only scored 38mpg. The Hybrid is not a green and happy GLI, it’s an expensive alternative to the TDI for the hippy crowd. Just behold those blue Hybrid badges tattoo’d at every corner!


The TDI comes across as cheaper, more reliable, comes in a manual, and will hold its value (look at those used mkV TDI prices!). The Hybrid, well…it’ll be an interesting Murilee junkyard find in 20 years.

Now Captain Leslie knows the truth: I suggest she keeps her current manual shift Jetta TDI (with 185,000 trouble free miles!) and save the money for her upcoming wedding. Leslie, if you have some scratch left over, get a Jetta Sportwagen TDI, which is just a Golf TDI with a big trunk. The current Jetta TDI and Hybrid are good, but after being a command pilot over Afghanistan, you won’t have the wool pulled over your eyes: the new Jetta is not superior to yours.

At least the bartenders Courtney and Elise from The Roof in Lubbock seem to really like it!

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61 Comments on “Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI vs 2013 Jetta Hybrid...”

  • avatar

    The Jetta Sportwagen is still based on the old MKV Golf/Jetta platform… I’d go for a MKVI Golf TDI or Jetta TDI. The current crop of TDIs also seem to suffer from a lot of high pressure fuel pump failures, which is another issue altogether.

    On my 2013 GLI, I have noticed that the area next to the rear seatback is solid plastic instead of being padded/upholstered, as it is on most cars. The rear seat belts land in this area and the buckle makes a loud thud against the hard plastic when they’re retracted. I guess if you want a really nice interior, you’re supposed to upgrade to an Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I guess if you want a really nice interior, you’re supposed to upgrade to an Audi.”

      Or a Golf/GTI

      • 0 avatar

        That hard plastic seatback portion is there on the GTI too. My solution is to leave the rear belts buckled at all times, then they can’t rattle.

        • 0 avatar

          I haven’t noticed them rattling (yet), but there’s a really annoying “*thud*, scratch, scratch, scratch” when a rear passenger unbuckles their seatbelt and the buckle scrapes across the plastic seatback area as it retracts.

          Mine does seem to have a rattle from the upper b-pillar area and there’s a wind whistle above 50 MPH. Also, the driver’s side xenon headlight shakes when driving over rough pavement. They’d better hope I don’t get a survey from JD Power. One might reasonably think those types of problems would have been sorted by the third year of production.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m itching to see when the new MkVII Sportwagen TDI/Golf Variant comes to our shores. If I can hold out a couple years, I think it could be our next family car (assuming the CX-5 Skyactiv-D doesn’t get here first).

    • 0 avatar

      The Jetta and Mk6 Golf are on PQ35 as well. Only the upcoming (in the US) is on MQB.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’d go for….or Jetta TDI.”

      But, erm…the Jetta Sportwagon, despite being based on an older platform, has the far superior rear suspension and nicer interior than the cheapened MKVI Jetta (AFAIK only the MKVI Jetta GLI [like yours], and all MKVI Golf models have the nicer interior & better rear suspension).

    • 0 avatar

      Please indulge me. This is my first such post.
      I purchased a friend’s 2003 Jetta tdi (with manual transmission) 1.5 months ago. He lives in California (Sierra foothills) and I live in Texas. I’ve known him for 40 years and he is anal retentive when it comes to machinery. His 10 year old tdi had 15,100 total miles. He was thinking of selling it, I said I would buy it.
      I drove from California to Texas via the scenic route over high mountains, various state and national parks, etc. Total miles driven: 2,225. Total fuel purchased: under 40 gallons. Total average mileage: 56.2 mpg.

      The only concession I made to mileage was limiting my speed to 67 mph. I used the A/C where needed, and it was needed in Texas. Now the only thing I want to know is how long will it last.

  • avatar

    185k….trouble-free….MkIV VW Jetta….

    Her car was obviously made on Wednesday by Rumplestiltskin’s unicorn. :)

    Good for her.

    • 0 avatar

      I know… it’s a bizarre occurrence… I recommended Leslie play the lottery.

      • 0 avatar

        Reputation, how is it in Deutschland?

        A superb review.

        • 0 avatar

          As a german car nerd I can tell you that the reputation in terms of reliability of mk4 Golfs and Jettas (or Boras as they are called here) is okay. Japanese cars like the Corolla of the same age do better. But over all it’s a respected car.

          I’m driving a Bora Variant (Jetta Wagon) with the rather exotic V(R)5 as a daily driver and had some typical issues with the car, especially between 100-120K Miles apart from regular maintenance, e.g. overheating because of electrical problems with the fan or a side window falling in the door.

          If you should refer to the reputation in general I can say this: Every new Jetta Generation is announced to attack BMW 3-Series. That never worked, because not such a sporty/lively driving experience apart from VW not being considered as a luxury brand. The limousine is very rare and mostely driven by elderly poeple.

    • 0 avatar

      Reliability aside, the Mk IV Jetta, like the Mk IV Golf, were high water marks (Mks?) in design for VW, IMHO. It’s been low tide in comparison ever since.

      • 0 avatar

        Regarding styling, I couldn’t agree more. The MkIV’s, like most turn-of-the-century cars, were confidently and elegantly understated compared to today’s overstyled excesses. But the MkVs have better innards– full independent rear suspensions and the trusty, strong 2.0T gas engines.

    • 0 avatar

      Wasn’t the TDI MkIV typically more reliable than its gas counterparts?

      • 0 avatar

        Aren’t all TDi’s? Less to go wrong.

        • 0 avatar

          Have ya driven a Saab TiD lately…EVER? I didnt think so. Apparently, neither did GM. A diesel Cruze is just around the… somewhere. Diesels are as close to a perpetual-motion machine as there is, but this battery start/stop thing (ie golf cart) is pretty good too.

        • 0 avatar

          Until the high-pressure fuel injection pump goes kablooey. In both my MkIV TDIs, they went around 160,000 miles, and cost about $1600 each to replace. That made the math easy– this repair alone cost a penny per mile. Not much on top of the 11 cents/mile it cost to fuel it, but the bill came all at once, landed on my credit card and lingers there still. Add in the mandatory 100K timing belt change, and I’d say, no, there’s not less to go wrong.

          This time, I took my mechanic’s advice and bout the 2.0T gasser, with a long-life (lifetime? we’ll see…) timing chain. It just happened to come with a GTI attached… ; >

          • 0 avatar

            The high pressure pump can blow. The high pressure injectors fail. The EGR system is notorious for getting coked up.

            I have friends and family that owned MKIV TDIs. Every single one of them spent their fuel savings on expensive fuel system repairs.

    • 0 avatar

      230,000 trouble-free 2003 Jetta 1.8T. Doesn’t burn a drop of oil. Use Liqui-Moly 0w-40 during the winter and Lubro-Moly 5w-40 during the warmer months.

      Added mods such as APR Stage I ECU upgrade, EuroJet Side-Mounted Intercooler upgrade with vented wheel well replacement to improve intercooler airflow, catch-can to separate the oil from the PCV ventilation which keeps the intake valves clean, upgraded boost pipe, rubber boost pipes and pcv lines replaced with Eurojet silicone lines.

      Horsepower increase – 180hp to 245 hp
      Torque increase – 173 ft-lbs to 278 ft-lbs from 1950 rpm to north of 5000 rpm.

      When it’s time to replace the original K03 turbo, it will be replaced by the bigger k04 and custom intake.

      …And yes, Rumplestiltskin is my mechanic.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    As a Jetta Sportwagen owner, I concur. It’s a car that feels worth the asking price, while the Jetta sedan doesn’t. But mine has the 5 cylinder that apparently makes babies cry while aiding and abetting the enemy, so I have no enthusiast cred a-whatsoever.

    185K trouble-free out of a MkIV is pretty good. I would think about selling it before that changes.

    • 0 avatar

      you should be happy with your 2.5. As a former Sprotwagen TDI owner, I’m certain that you got much better fuel economy out of your TDI than I did out of the loaner I drove most of the time while my TDI was in the shop for latest disaster. Oh, how I hated that car. If could drink straigt grain alcohol and piss napalm on the thing, I’d have done it.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Hehe, I’ve never had a car I hated that much and hope I never do.

        I do like my 2.5 just fine. Your statement about getting better mpg out of my TDI than your loaner confuses me though. Mine isn’t a TDI, and you don’t say what your loaner was. Could ya clarify?

        Were your TDI disasters related to the drivetrain?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Mike, you photographed and circled the exposed plastic flashing on the Camry’s door pockets, why not on this new Jetta? I know it’s there, it’s even present on my supposedly perfect Sportwagen :)

    • 0 avatar

      It was more of a shock in the Camry, as its something I’ve never seen before. Hence why I highlighted it. In the Jetta, everything was put together very well, with just some flash seems on the door pocket (that I noticed), so didn’t deem it worthy of mention, as I addressed the plastics on the dashboard.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Oh man, have you looked at the 2007-2011 Camry? Plastic fantastic train wreck inside and it all fits together poorly. Far worse than the 2013.

  • avatar

    OK, after re-reading this article at least three times, I am still confused. Is this a comparison of two 2013 cars, or a new car to an old car? Or is VW presently selling new MkIV, V and VI alongside one another? There is so much jumping around between Mk’s here that I began to feel like I’d stumbled into a Lincoln product naming session.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Other things I was expecting to see: the TDI feels faster, but which one is actually faster? what is the price comparison as tested? Did one have nicer equipment to offset the price? What is the gas mileage when driving like a normal person? Noise comparison? City mileage versus highway between the two? All I got out of it was that an MKIV TDI > MKVI TDI > MKVI Hybrid based on arbitrary criteria set by someone who likes MKIV TDIs. (The MKVI TDI at least hits the TDI part, so it gets the nod over the MKVI hybrid, apparently.)

      I owned a MKV GTI and I’ve performed an aircompressorectomy on an MKIV Golf. Don’t worry, the AC compressor failed on my GTI, too, so VW obviously didn’t countermeasure it, so your friend is likely on borrowed time with her AC.

    • 0 avatar

      Confusing yes, but at least it was also uninformative so there is some consistency. I got out of it that the reviewer is hideously biased, hates hybrids, and likes diesels. But I don’t care about the reviewers preferences and instead would like to know something useful (and objective) about the cars. Guess I’ll have to wait for that….

  • avatar

    This new Mk6 Jetta doesn’t have the infinitely adjust turn knobs for the seats, they replaced them with pull handles which don’t operate like the Japanese stuff either.

  • avatar

    “Sajeev pointed out my fondness for VAG products”

    That’s not the polite way to say it, the polite way would be “feminine hygiene products”.

  • avatar

    It’s kind of funny how even one decade after the 2003 Prius was released, most other companies still struggle to make a similar sized car with the same or better real world mpg. Prius is one of the few cars on the road that not only gets EPA estimated MPG, but can also beat the estimates on regular basis. Granted, the Prius may not feel very Germanic, being pretty light and somewhat noisy at highway speeds, specially on harsher surface, with the stereo struggling to overpower the road noise, but I smile every time I look at trip mpg stats.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t know what the public’s problem is with the Prius. It’s very good at what it does, and a hard proposition to beat. People may make gay-bashing Prius jokes, but the owners—and Toyota itself—are surely laughing all the way to the bank…

      • 0 avatar

        Kyree, I can only speak for myself. But my problem with the Prius (I drove a rental) was that it sacrifices absolutely everything else before the great god Mileage. Cheap-feeling and flimsy, surprisingly noisy at highway speed, disconnected controls, objectively lousy performance, just a miserable driving experience in virtually every way.

        Yes, it gets umpteen miles per gallon, and no, it doesn’t break. It is good at what it does. But that’s ALL it does. I wished every minute I could overpay for gas and fear mechanical failures in exchange for the privilege of driving something, almost anything, else.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m warming to the idea of a hybrid. It’s every other aspect of the Prius I hate, starting with that sleek profile that so matches the little fish stickers on the back of Christian motorists. You don’t need to streamline a commuter car to the utmost degree. Priuses thrive in city traffic, not the open autobahn. That plunging roofline impedes driver visibility at intersections, putting pedestrians, cyclists and other cars at risk, and the vast windshield turns the car into a sit-in solar collector on hot sunny days. The CVT deadens any car’s responses. “It’s not a car… it’s a boat!”

          All to wring one or two more mpgs. Because most car buyers won’t do the math and see that the mpg race brings diminishing returns. If you trade that 15 mpg monster truck for a 30 mpg car, you’ve saved half the gas you used to use. Saving half again is a much harder goal, demanding 60 mpg. And inching up from 45 mpg to 50 may sound impressive, but you’d save only 1/9 the fuel by doing so. As the numbers build, the real-world impact of the numerical progress gets smaller and smaller.

          In my book, the real gas hogs are the ones using big pickups (are there any other kind?) and SUVs for personal transportation– not the automobile drivers who haven’t bit the hook for the Priusfish yet.

  • avatar

    So the Hybrid is cheaper to run at least in most parts of the country most of they time. Around here Diesel seems to average ~12% more per gallon, slightly more in winter and slightly less in summer. Then throw in more frequent brake replacement, more money spent on maintence for the diesel and the Hybrid comes out even further ahead in operating cost. We’ll have to wait and see on the resale value, the Hybrid Toyotas and Fords seem to do better than their gas only counterparts.

    • 0 avatar

      I would agree with you if the hybrid you were referring to was Prius. Considering VW’s reputation for reliability, I’d think twice before getting their first generation “Hecho en Mexico” hybrid car. Let others be their Guinea pigs.

      • 0 avatar

        But, but……… it has German engineering……… I do agree that at this point it is hard to predict if it will have reasonable reliability or just standard VW reliability. The brakes should last longer though.

  • avatar

    Just imagine what it would cost to own a VW hybrid outside of warranty.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s another reason to get the diesel because the costs would be about the same as maintaining any other hybrid that is not a Prius.

      • 0 avatar

        The regular maintenance for the diesel is going to be higher than for the gas, though at this point the potential repairs on the VW hybrid is certainly still in question. The Ford hybrids have proven to be very inexpensive to maintain and have needed very few repairs so far. I’ve heard of multiple Escapes that have gone over 200K with only tires, oil changes and a set of spark plugs.

  • avatar

    An B8 A4 2.0T or Jetta equivalent would be interesting to compare.

    Besides we all know that the Prius computer reading mpg is optimistic:

    • 0 avatar

      My ’07 GTI read ~5% optimistic on the MPG gauge just like my Prius reads ~5% optimistic. I was usually getting 30mpg in the GTI and it read around 31.5 or 32mpg most of the time. The prius reads between 40 and 45mpg and actually gets 38 to 42mpg (10% swing from winter to summer mileage). I use GasCubby on my iPhone to track all of my mileage. I have over 100k miles of data between my GTI (58k), 4Runner (36k), and Prius (14k).

      My GTI’s speedometer was wildly out, though. Completely stock, it was only going 63mph at an indicated 70mph. I’ve never owned a car that far off.

  • avatar

    Mike: “I have a Volkswagon hybrid parked outside, would you two girls like to check it out ?”.

    Courtney: “Dude, hybrids suck, isn’t that what that weird Ed Begley Jr guy drives ?”.

    Elise: “My boyfriend has a Dodge Stealth, and it’s WAY cooler than any hybrid !”.

    Mike: I’m an autojounalist for an online site called TTAC, if I paid you each $5 could you at least go out and sit in it and smile while I take your picture ?”.

    Courtney and Elise: “Well, I guess we could, just make it quick. This won’t get out on Facebook or anything will it ?. I would so die if that happened”.

    Mike: “OK, I’m done taking the picture now. So what do you girls think of this VW hybrid ?”.

    Courtney: “I think it’s kinda dorky. You’d never see me driving one, but my dad might, he’s really cheap and nerdy “.

    Elise: “I don’t like it either. From the back end it looks like a Corolla, and the interior seems really cheesy “.

    Courtney: “Yeah, the interior does look kinda crappy. Do you know that Jack guy from TTAC ?. Last time he was in town he took us for a ride in his VW Phaeton, and it was SO much nicer than this thing”.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’ve never understood why the Hybrid versions of cars have to get special design, but at least VW have restrained themselves and didn’t create a styling stinker, a la 2013 Honda Accord Hybrid or 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

    Still, just the same as the new ’14 Acura MDX on the next article, the MK VI Jetta has made itself more useful than its predecessor while at the same time compromising almost everything that made said predecessor special. It has become a jack of few trades and a master of none.

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of the people who buy hybrids do so to make a statement that they are saving the earth or as a fashion statement so they want a car that stands out from the standard models.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That’s fine and all, but a hybrid doesn’t need to be made worse-looking than its conventionally-powered counterpart. That’s something that the Asian automakers really don’t seem to get. I’m sure more than one person has been turned off by the fact that the Sonata Hybrid’s front-fascia like a mutant catfish. I certainly was.

        • 0 avatar

          No they don’t need to be made ugly that is for sure. Ford never made any styling changes to their Hybrid versions of existing cars. They stick some hybrid badges on it and in the case of the Fusion and Milan gave it unique wheels that personally I think are better looking than some of the other wheels.

  • avatar

    If TTAC wants to be a top-tier operation, it needs copyeditors to wrestle this slop into publishable form.

  • avatar

    We bought a new Jetta Sportwagen this winter. My wife fell in the love with the torquey-ness of the desel. It is brown, with a manual. So far it is averaging 42 MPG in combined driving. The craftsmanship is superb, and we love the cream colored VTex pleather. At 9000 miles, we’ve had zero problems.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought a Candy (Fridge) white with Cornsilk interior wagon last year with the DSG. It would have been a manual but the wife has problems with 3 pedals. I’ve got about 11000 miles and no problems with it for me either. As Mike talked about in his review, the torque is addictive, and it’s always available with the DSG. I test drove the Hybrid alongside a Jetta S (2.slow) recently. The Hybrid was fun but I wouldn’t spend $31000 for one. The Jetta S was pathetically slow and had a rattle in the driver’s side door.

      Looking forward to the new 1.8T coming sometime this year because that may be the replacement for my wife’s beloved 2000 Jetta TDI. And my wife’s car really hasn’t had much for problems in about 183000 miles. Replaced the A/C compressor in 2005 and the alternator in 2008 but aside from regular maintenance that’s it.

  • avatar

    For all the new gee-whiz tech, I’m really astonished by how little progress has been made on the MPG front these past 25 years.

    I owned a 1989 Ford Probe — 2.2 3-valve(two on the intake and one on the exhaust). Auto trans(4 speed overdrive with lock-up). At a steady 75MPH the car would squeeze 31-32 miles out of a gallon. The car was no speedster, but it was OK compared to what was on the road at the time, I never thought it was underpowered. AC, cruise, sunroof, power seat, windows, etc. Just about everything you expect to find on a modern car. Compared to new cars it was a fairly simple beast.

    I can only imagine the horror of trying to repair these new turbo, hybrid, 10 speeds, when they start coming apart in a few years. My guess is we are getting ever closer to the disposable car.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. My current DD is a ’99 E320 4Matic. On a recent trip 1,200-mile round trip, cruise set at 70 (with occasional gusts to 90 – where the car felt better), A/C at full-blast, and tires at the comfort-recommended 27 psi, I got a little over 29 mpg. That is bang on to the sticker for my car, which says 20 city/29 hwy. On a 15-year-old car with 142k and a five-speed auto.

      That’s about the same economy as the FRS.

      Brand new E350? 21/30 without 4Matic and with two more speeds in the box.

      I’m still waiting for a compelling reason to “upgrade”.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      The reason why cars don’t seem to have progressed much in terms of fuel economy are because people want and buy cars that are safer, faster and more luxurious than before. The days when people were willing to put up with tiny, gutless, tin cans to get better fuel economy are over. Why settle for a Geo Metro when a Jetta Hybrid gets similar fuel economy in a much bigger, more refined and safer package?

      Your Probe would get blown away by a Jetta GLI, and it would have worse fuel economy than either of the Jettas mentioned in this article. All the while, all Jettas are bigger, safer and more luxurious than any Probe.

      Cars are also more reliable and durable than ever before. This is the exact opposite of a disposable car.

  • avatar

    “The “green” Jetta handles exactly the same”

    No, it doesn’t. The hybrid has the GLI’s independent rear suspension, so that the rear doesn’t skittle sideways upon a mid-corner bump like the TDI does. And with the hybrid battery in the rear, the hybrid should also have better front-rear weight balance than a TDI, which has a heavy diesel lump in the front and nothing balancing it in the rear.

    Not quite comprehending what “the hybrid just goes” means either. You mean, just goes with strong electric-motor torque right off idle…much like a diesel? You mean, goes with a measured 0-60 time as good or better than the diesel’s? Can’t just be lack of mechanical drama — while a Ford C-Max Hybrid’s 7.1-second 0-60 run lacks turbo whine and gear shifts, a Jetta Hybrid’s similar 0-60 run does not. (However, a hybrid’s acceleration isn’t as predictable–test that same C-Max in Midwest winter weather with a flat battery and the traction control on, and that same 0-60 run takes 9 seconds.)

    Finally, MPG vs. efficiency. Diesel takes more energy input per gallon to make than gasoline, so per the Union of Concerned Scientists, “When evaluating a diesel vehicle’s impact on oil dependence, consumers should adjust the listed fuel economy downward about 20 percent before comparing it with a gasoline vehicle.” The market kinda makes that “adjustment” for you by pricing diesel higher per gallon than gas, and making it harder to find a diesel pump. So the diesel doesn’t appear to have a real-world advantage here either.

    Yet the driving experience is all subjective, isn’t it? And at the end of the day, if the locomotive rush of the TDI feels better, then it just does.

  • avatar

    Hats off to VW for finally making a hybrid that I’d look forward to driving (DSG>CVT). I’m impressed– it’s one more good alternative for green enthusiasts, like me. But in the final analysis, the old rules probably still apply. Buy a hybrid for stop-and-go commuting, but for long hauls over the road, diesel rules.

  • avatar

    Yeah, that 1.9TDI VAG engine is sure legendary! 185K trouble free miles…. :) yeah well –

    Of this endless list my 1.9TDI (110k mileage) had the following problems during one year of ownership:

    MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor needed replacement
    Turbo VNT mechanism sticking
    Turbo wastegate mechanism sticking
    Turbo boost control solenoid valve not working
    Intake manifold clogged
    Air intake clogged
    Intercooler clogged internally
    High oil consumption – 1L per 1000km – VW manual says its normal

  • avatar

    LOLing at a VW fanboy calling a BMW driver a douchebag.

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