2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Test drive and new car review 2009 …

6 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Test drive and new car review 2009 … отключены
Volkswagen up Electric Cars

Eat your heart out, Prius

For 2009, Volkswagen is re-introducing the diesel-powered Jetta TDI with an all-new clean turbodiesel engine that meets emissions standards in all 50 states. (To learn more about the differences between gasoline engines and diesels, go here .) Diesel fans (including me) praise diesel cars for their excellent power and hybrid-like fuel economy. Detractors say diesels are smoky, smelly and slow. Will the new TDI advance the cause of diesel?

Read on. $22,640 base, $24,190 as tested, EPA fuel economy estimates 29-30 MPG city, 40-41 MPG highway.

First Glance: My forbidden love

Telling car fans that you like diesels is a bit like telling football fans that you like watching men in tight clothing jump all over each other. Even so, I will freely admit that I am a huge fan of diesel cars like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Why do I love diesels?

Because they keep their promises: Decent power, outstanding fuel economy, and eternal longevity. Contrast that to hybrids, with all the accompanying debate about real world fuel economy vs. EPA estimates, hypermiling, battery life and recyclability, etc. etc. etc.

Diesels are simple: Drive all day, get great fuel economy. Repeat the next day, and the next, and the next, and onwards for the next two or three hundred thousand miles.


For those unfamiliar with diesel cars, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI almost sounds too good to be true. According to Volkswagen, the Jetta TDI is quicker to 60 MPH than a gasoline-powered Jetta. plus it’s 50% more fuel-efficient and (when comparably equipped) costs just $1300 more. My real-world test drive experience shows that isn’t entirely true: The Jetta TDI is closer to 100% more fuel-efficient than the gas-powered Jetta, and thanks to the Advanced Lean Burn Technology Tax Credit, the TDI actually costs as much as $550 less than a similarly-equipped gas-powered Jetta.

Yeah, but who wants to drive a diesel? If that’s what you’re thinking, stop reading now, head on down to your local Volkswagen dealership, and take a test drive. I’ve been a member of the diesel cheering section for years, and even I was pleasantly surprised by the Jetta TDI.

In the Driver’s Seat: Practical but plasticky

Driver’s view of the Jetta TDI — a view you could mistake for any Jetta. or Rabbit. or GTI. or R32. or.

Photo Aaron Gold

Every time I drive a Jetta — and this has to be the fourth or fifth one I’ve tested — I always marvel at how practical it is. The interior (link goes to photo) is straightforward, if a bit plasticky and plain. The driving position is spot-on perfect (with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, how could it be anything but?); visibility is great and there’s plenty of back seat space. The trunk is big with a flat floor and sides, making it easy to load.

Need more space? No problem — the Jetta TDI is also available as a wagon .

I mentioned above how a Jetta TDI compares on price to a comparably-equipped gas-powered Jetta. If there’s a catch, this is it: There is no entry-level Jetta TDI. The TDI’s standard equipment list includes six-disc CD changer, heated seats, electronic stability control — basically everything you’d get on the top-of-the-line Jetta SEL except a sunroof and an automatic transmission. The sunroof comes standard on the Jetta TDI Loyal Edition I tested; it also had an automatic transmission ($1,100), which brought the price up to $24,190 — $750 more than a Jetta SEL.

Subtract the Advanced Lean Burn tax credit — $1,300 off the bottom line of your 1040 — and there’s your $550 savings. I’m pleased to see a diesel car so aggressively priced, though I wish VW offered a lower-spec TDI. The base-model Jetta S is priced at $17,990; surely Volkswagen could deliver a low-end TDI for well under $20k.

On the Road: Life with diesel

The Jetta TDI is powered by an all-new 2-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine which runs on low-sulfer clean diesel fuel. Best yet, the Jetta TDI does not require AdBlue fluid (a refillable urea-based solution required by the emissions system of most 50-state-compliant diesels). The engine delivers 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque; compare that to 170 hp and 177 lb-ft for the 2.5 liter 5-cylinder engine in the gas-powered Jetta. (Horsepower is a function of engine speed; diesels turn slower than gas engines, hence the low hp number.) A six-speed manual is standard, and automatic TDIs like the one I drove get VW’s six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox. a fancy-pants twin-clutch transmission usually found in performance models like the GTI and R32. The DSG delivers more power and better fuel economy than a conventional automatic, hence its use in the Jetta TDI. (Read more about DSG here .)

Off-the-line acceleration is not the Jetta TDI’s strong suit. Floor the pedal and there’s a pause, a slow move-off, a sudden surge of power, then another slowdown as the engine runs into its 4,500 RPM redline. But diesels develop huge amounts of mid-range torque, and when you put your foot down to pass a slow-moving RV, the Jetta delivers the sort of acceleration you’d expect from a small V6.

How diesel-like is the Jetta TDI? I covered up the DIESEL FUEL ONLY sticker and asked my Prius-owning friend to drive. Neither the quiet grumble at idle nor the soft thrum while cruising tipped him off — with no smell and no smoke, he had no idea he was driving a diesel until I told him.

Journey’s End: Did I mention fuel economy?

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Photo Aaron Gold

There’s still one thing I haven’t talked about: Fuel economy. EPA estimates for the automatic Jetta TDI are 29 MPG city and 40 MPG highway. I beat those numbers without even trying — my test-week average was 42.9 MPG.

Compare that to the low 20s I typically see in gas-powered Jettas and the 44-45 MPG I usually get out of the Toyota Prius Hybrid. Lowest observed fuel economy was 28 MPG while thrashing the Jetta TDI on the About.com Top Secret Curvy Test Road (lots of fun, by the way); best was a highway run with the cruise set at 67, where I averaged 55 MPG. Even without cruise, most of my highway drives averaged 48 MPG or better.

Bottom line: The VW Jetta TDI is just one more reason why I love diesel cars. The Jetta TDI is quick, quiet, clean and incredibly efficient, plus it’s comfortable, practical, and fun to drive. If most of your driving is in severe stop-and-go traffic, a hybrid like the Prius will probably save you more at the pump. But if you do average sort of driving, the Jetta TDI is an above-average car. — Aaron Gold

Volkswagen up Electric Cars

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