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When we got our first chance to sample the new Volkswagen Jetta TDI last summer, VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby indicated that the new compact diesel would achieve mileage in the 40mpg range. More recently, VW has been indicating that the Jetta TDI is capable of up to 60mpg on the highway. The first of the new 50-state legal Jettas were recently spotted on their way to dealerships and now the EPA has published official mileage numbers. Unfortunately,wrong those numbers don't quite match up with what VW has been claiming.

According to the official listing at FuelEconomy.gov, the 6-speed manual 2009 VW Jetta TDI managed 30mpg on the city cycle and 41mpg on the highway cycle, making its combined number 34mpg. Now those numbers are certainly respectable and nothing to sneeze at, but they fall well short of VW's predictions. Nonetheless, the TDI rates 41.7-percent better than the 2.5L five cylinder and 36-percent better than the 2.0 TFSI four cylinder. The big question is what will a diesel Jetta do in the real world? According to VW spokesman Keith Price, Volkswagen's diesels typically do better in real world mileage than the EPA sticker values. VW, you know where to find our garage so we can judge for ourselves. Thanks for the tip, Conner and Jason!


[Source: FuelEconomy.gov]


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  • 95 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Not good enough with Diesel costing almost a ~$1 more than regualr fuel. Prius is still a better choice for the consumer looking to save on fuel. Costs less upfront and the fuel costs less. I guess you lose some utility with the Prius but not much. Both are fairly vanilla in driving dynamics so I think that is a wash with a slight edge to the VW. VW wins on looks though but it does not have the cool ass touch screen radio/HVAC of the Prius.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Pacman
        To be straight forward, you're wrong. The diesel engine will outlive and outlast the hybrid electric systems in those cars (think batteries). Driving like a douchebag in either will yield high twenties at best. Driving like a person who wants the best fuel economy their car can get, hypermiling, altenrative routes, light on the pedal, I would put $1000 on the TDI going further on 5 gallons of fuel on the combined cycle. I'm highly confident that if a BMW BMW 520d that weighs more than the Prius, can have a better combined MPG as tested. I would be just as confident that the lighter weight Volkswagen TDI would be able to accomplish the same. See the #1 Prius Forum (Prius Chat [what gay name, IMO] ) "35-40mpg avg" here: http://priuschat.com/The-35-40-Avg-Mpg-Club-t39273.html and for the #1 TDI forum (TDICLUB.com) "Honest MPG" http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=211841. If you take the average of only the first 8 Jetta TDIs (All share a the same common engine, only variation is the type of fuel delivery) the rough average is 47 mpg. At this point your eyes should be open and your mouth closed.
        • 7 Years Ago
        BAH - take a look for yourself

        http://www.pittsburghgasprices.com/index.aspx?fuel=A

        Diesel is around a ~$1 more in Pittsburgh. In case you are not aware the ~ means "around" not = "equal". You have also failed to include the increased upfront cost of the Jetta Gas vs the Jetta Diesel. Your cost per mile is not accurate. The Prius is still a better choice unless you need the extra room in the Jetta. Fuel economy alone the Prius or HCH win.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Enjoy your 250,000 mile VW.

        I've been driving for 22 years, and I may have just driven my 250,000th mile this year.

        I think I'd like to own more than 3 cars during my lifetime, so a 250,000 mile timeframe isn't one I need to care about.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It is possible to save a few hundred dollars a year on gas from what I can tell, but this is largely dependent on how expensive diesel is compared to gasoline where you live.
        So right now if it's $4.30 where you live you can actually save a few hundred bucks a year, the payoff for the upfront cost will still take about 5 years though.
        But if diesel is significantly more expensive than gasoline where you live then it'll take just about forever to compensate for the premium you paid for the TDI to begin with.

        Anyways, diesels spit out microscopic pieces of soot, and filtering the soot has lowered the efficiency of diesel motors so do not just assume it'll get 50mpg because some circa 1980's TDI did.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I still have the EPA sticker for my previous generation Jetta TDI auto, which claimed 32/38. I average 45, have gotten as high as 50, and my leadfoot wife has never managed to push it below 40, even when she blows an entire tank jack-rabbiting around town. I also have the sticker for my '86 MB 190D, which claims 31 highway. I never fail to achieve 35 in mixed driving. The EPA is helplessly incapable of measuring diesel mileage.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The new diesel vehicles also have to pass new emissions laws regarding the soot that they emit, and unfortunately when you filter the soot out it hurts mileage.

        And newer cars have a tendency to get heavier and bigger, so it's not quite as easy as you may think to get high mileage out of diesels now.

        Seriously, a diesel has to justify the 25% fuel premium you pay versus regular pump gas in better MPG and then some to compensate for the higher initial costs. It really makes no sense right now.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would be concerned about VW and Jacoby's customer service. View my experience here:
      http://www.reesphotos.com/VW/
      John Rees
      • 7 Years Ago
      From fuel-economy.co.uk

      Jetta 2.0 TDI - Manual
      Urban: 40.40MPG
      Extra Urban: 58.90MPG
      Combined: 50.40MPG

      Prius
      Urban: 56.50MPG
      Extra Urban: 67.30MPG
      Combined: 65.70MPG

      Tell me why you'd expect Jetta's fuel economy beats Prius'.


      • 7 Years Ago
      Those number are completely unimpressive. My 1998 Saab 900 Turbo got 28 - 30 combined highway and city and a 2.0 liter turbo with 185 HP. Ten years later is a car no larger and VW can only do 5 MPG better with a diesel?
        • 7 Years Ago
        A 1998 Saab 900 was also rated at 16-20 city (depending on model/trans) and 23-26 highway. According to fueleconomy.gov

        The new EPA numbers bear no resemblance to reality, so you can't compare your actual mileage to the listed mileage of another car. The only thing comparable is EPA mileage from one car to the next.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a surprise. Yet another supposed Prius-killer turns out to, uh, not.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "..According to VW spokesman Keith Price Volkswagen's diesels typically do better in real world mileage than the EPA sticker values...." Actually this statement is probably true for this car, as the last generation tdi's tended to hit mid 50's on the highway for mpg so it wouldn't be surprising to see the new (and heavier) cars hit high 40's on the highway and mid to high 30's in town. maybe even low 40's if you're really good.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Agreed.

        My Father drives 120 miles a day in his 4 Cylinder 2006 TDI and he gets a sustained 56MPG highway, 45 to 50MPG city and he only fills up once a week. Driving like a granny at a steady 55mph with no lane changes we've gotten it up to 65-67MPG.

        Don't believe the bogus ratings, they have to be low in order to stimulate hybrid sales since they are still less efficient than Diesel.


        • 7 Years Ago
        I have to agree, John. My father had a Rabbit Diesel many years ago and he regularly got 50+ mpg on the highway. He drove conservatively which I'm sure helped.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "I have to agree, John. My father had a Rabbit Diesel many years ago and he regularly got 50+ mpg on the highway. He drove conservatively which I'm sure helped."

        50 mpg in a 1980s-vintage non-turbo diesel. Driving conservatively isn't a choice, it's a requirement because the car is _really really slow_ and it's crashworthiness was summed up by the phrase "closed coffin service".

        Come on, let's be fair. I may as well drag the Geo Metro into this discussion if the old Rabbit is your benchmark.
      • 7 Years Ago
      People assuming the new EPA numbers on the new model are dead wrong ought to explain how they're sure that the new model running with all its extra emissions equipment on the new diesel fuel will perform as efficiently as the old model on the old fuel without that equipment did.

      Also, yes, people do get mid-50s on Priuses. Not all, but many. Colleague of mine from IBM has done so regularly for years. On our 2004, we've had tanks north of 50 (when I used it a lot to go to the office), but also a lot of tanks at 45 (when most trips were extremely short city trips where the engine had a hard time getting warmed up). You'd have to ritually abuse the thing to get much lower than that, though.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My 1996 Passat TDI Station Wagon 110 HP & 173 lb/Ft got on hwy 54.7 to 57.37 mpg... and it had 180,000 miles
      • 7 Years Ago
      The bigger question is how it performs. NA, 4cyl diesel doesn't exactly sound powerful.

      (And before people mention torque, torque is irrelevant - that's why god invented the transmission. The torque at the wheels is the torque at the crank divided by the gear ratio. The gear ratio for a gasoline engine will lower because a gas engine revs higher.)
        • 7 Years Ago
        If torque isn't relevant, why are we so in love with big low rpm V8s that have low HP to displacement ratios?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Obviously I misspoke. I forgot it's a turbo diesel, but my comment still stands. This thing isn't exactly a screamer.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Torque can come from gearing and revs instead of from the engine. Since a gas car has a 50% higher redline it can produce 50% more torque with the right gearing. This wipes out the Diesel torque advantage when driven properly, more than wipes it out, which is why race cars don't use Diesels.

        Basically, a Diesel gives you more torque without having to rev up the engine. If this is what you want, a gas car can be made with a longer stroke (like a Diesel is) and then it'll have the same behavior. However, this reduces overall power output (HP), so it generally isn't done.
        • 7 Years Ago
        LS, if you can get the same torque from a gas engine, then go tell all the truckers that it is now safe to switch to gas, and all the railway companies... Could it be that to get the same torque out of a gas engine the fuel consumption will be accordingly higher (higher revs)? Fact is, if diesel engines have one strong point, it`s the torque curve, you know it, i know it, VW knows it, everybody knows it. Torque is important in day to day driving, and if you insist on changing the gearbox of a gas car to get higher torque at the wheels, why not change also the gearbox of a diesel to get even more? Unless gas and diesel engines are at high loads, the diesel will always be more efficient. Race cars do use diesel where it is allowed, and as you very well know, Audi did win LeMans with a diesel car using exactly the higher torque and better fuel economy of the car (and yes, they increased the minimum weight by 55lb, as you have mentioned before). WTCC also has diesels, Dakar rally has diesels, and they seem to do fine.

        Btw, diesel fuel is now moer expensive even in europe, which should decrease the sales of diesel cars, but since in countries like the UK cars are taxed by g/km CO2, it will still be cheaper to own one. (yes, many people would like it to be per gallon, since diesel is heavier, but that is not the fuel's fault, what matters is the amount from point A to point B). VW and all the others are a few years late from the appropriate time to introduce new diesels in America, now the impact will be like leaving an ice cube in the sun.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have a 5000 pound 4WD Diesel SUV ('08 ML320 CDI) and average over 27MPG with 15% city/85% hwy driving, actually doing a bit over the speed limit.

      This is what the old EPA ratings said I should get, in fact it's a bit more than what the old EPA ratings said I should get.

      The new EPA ratings on the other hand are completely out of whack for diesels especially. According to the '08 EPA #s I should only average about 22MPG according to my driving pattern.

      Ya, right.

      Granted diesel is more expensive than premium now, but these are strange times - I don't think this situation will be permanent for a number of reasons that are beyond the scope of this comment.

      One other thing - regardless of how a car appears on the outside, it's the inside you see....day in and day out.....for hours on end sometimes. And the VW has an extremely sweet interior. I had an '07 Camry Hybrid and I had to get rid of it because of the horrible ergonomics, and disgusting interior.
      • 7 Years Ago
      with fuel that costs 25% more than gas and will have a gignificant jump on the window sticker. Of course the resale should make up for that difference. TDIs usually have a very good resale value.
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