Stellar fuel efficiency is still the name of the game when it comes to our long-term Volkswagen Jetta TDI, as it's averaging well over its EPA-estimated 30 city and 42 highway miles per gallon in our hands. In fact, with a deft throttle foot, it's not terribly difficult to crest the 50-mpg plateau on long, steady-state trips.

The oil-burning steed recently made the trek from Southern California to the Phoenix, Arizona area so that our resident photographer, Drew Phillips, could make sure we got all the right shots as we lead-footed our way around the Bondurant circuit with the Chevy Camaro ZL1.

Parking the Jetta TDI next to the Camaro ZL1 was an interesting exercise – it's hard to imagine two vehicles more diametrically opposed than these. And, needless to say, moving directly from 580 supercharged horsepower in the ZL1 to just 140 horses in the VW took a bit of right-foot recalibration.

The good news is that, with 236 pound-feet of torque on tap, the Jetta TDI is fun to drive in its own right. Short-shifting the six-speed manual gearbox to keep the diesel mill in its sweet spot produces the most satisfying experience in the Jetta, and it allows you to feel the rush of torque as the turbocharger gets a hold of the spent diesel fumes, pushing your body into the seatback.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI shifter2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI engine start button2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI navigation system

Since this is my first stint behind the wheel of our long-term Jetta TDI, I'll take a moment to echo the sentiments of our past drivers. First, the interior of any 2011 Jetta is a big letdown for anyone who's sat in previous efforts from VW, with wide expanses of hard black plastic and barely any flair or actual style to break up the monotony. The vinyl coverings of the seats make your back sweat something fierce, especially if you're in the midst of a long slog on the highway. We long for some nice plaid fabric. The start/stop button is very oddly placed and feels like an afterthought. On the plus side, the in-dash LCD is nicely crisp and, for the most part, easy to use with its touch-screen interface.

And, of course, it's way too easy to stall the TDI engine in first and second gears. There seems to be some programming in the engine's electronic brain that unexpectedly shuts it down entirely if you dip past a certain RPM threshold. If that's necessary for the longevity of the powerplant or for emissions reasons, we understand, but it's still a very irritating and un-diesel-like trait that every driver will need to adapt to.

I've only spent a few weeks with our long-term Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and will touch more on what it's like to live with on a day-to-day basis in next month's update. In the meantime, I'll revel in the knowledge that a car needn't be a penalty box to post exceptional fuel mileage.

Keep your eyes locked on the official Autoblog Facebook page for the majority of our updates, as well as the official Autoblog Twitter account (@therealautoblog, look for the #ablongterm hashtag).


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  • 78 Comments
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      The exterior is still bland in an inoffensive way. The interior reeks of cheap - especially if you look close at the pics. I sat in one when it came out and it was night and day difference between the Golf. Instead of differentiating itself, VW has decided to move forward with being the best and cheapest at bland mass market transportation.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      Usually with a long-term update I would expect to see info like mileage, time, maintenance, etc.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jake
        [blocked]
          JeremyABG
          • 2 Years Ago
          All scheduled maintenance is included for the first three years or 36,000 miles. Our oil was changed at 20,000 miles or so, about 1,000 miles ago. Non-event.
          bhtooefr
          • 2 Years Ago
          brian: To be fair, though, the "certified VW mechanics" are Jiffy Lube's rejects. Which is why a lot of us TDI owners do our own maintenance.
          brian
          • 2 Years Ago
          That's why AB ended up with this TDI: They took the previous one to Jiffy Lube where the AB staffer actually paid money for a crap job that lead to a blown engine rather than taking the car in for it's free maintenance by a certified VW mechanic.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      That interior could use some color.
      judgesmails
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why are you posting this "long term update" before you have driven it long term?
      vc-10
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't get why they don't make real leather available as an option. I'm sure people would pay for it, and the European Jettas which are built in the same factory have it as an option.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vc-10
        [blocked]
      franka
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love my Jetta TDI, yes the leatherette seats get hot in the summer but the fuel mileage is great. I have been keeping track of my fuel mileage for about the last 8,000 miles of my 16,000 and have averaged 41 mpg. I have gotten as much as 52 mpg for a day trip and the least mpg i have gotten on a tank is 37.9. I think thats better than the numbers that Ingersol was quoting. As the article said, the Jetta TDI is averaging well over its EPA estimates. Mine definitely is. And if you haven't been a VW owner before, you won't miss what you never had in the interior department. I enjoy my car completely. I have a manual and it is very fun to drive. Fuel mileage and the ability to pass someone, even if its just for the fun of it.
      greenz1977
      • 2 Years Ago
      I test drove a 2012 Jetta TDI automatic (they didn't have a manual on the lot) a week ago and thought it was OK. It cruised nice on the highway and the digital readout said it was getting well over 40 mpg. The interior fitment was lacking though: the weatherstrip around the rear doors where it meets the plastic interior panels didn't line up right and the weatherstrip got pushed behind the panel leaving a huge gap. I'm also disappointed that VW went to a beam rear axle instead of having independent rear suspension like the last generation had. This is on a car that stickers for $27,000. You can step up to the Jetta TDI wagon and get IRS but that will run you about $30,000. Yikes!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @greenz1977
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Lachmund
        • 2 Years Ago
        so record sales and exceptional mileage are a failure.... i see. oh, i just noted you are the no.1 troll on this site and a known vw hater :) could have read the article for the start...haha
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Lachmund
          [blocked]
          MJC
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Lachmund
          As most TDI owners can attest, the real world mileage for TDIs is typically higher than indicated by the EPA ratings.
        ChrisTT
        • 2 Years Ago
        If you read the article or just knew anything about cars, you'd know that Diesels do much better in the real world than on EPA ratings.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ChrisTT
          [blocked]
        brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        "The Civic Hybrid is a much better eco car than this..." Really? Then please explain exactly how that lady in LA won the case against Honda when her Civic Hybrid was getting nowhere near the manufacturer's EPA mileage estimate?
        imnuts
        • 2 Years Ago
        I guess you missed the lines in the article that state they regularly get >50mpg on the highway. Guess VW really inflated their EPA Highway number there...
        MyerShift
        • 2 Years Ago
        Wow, bias much?
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Dude, you're just PROVING that you're Vwfailsagain by 1)voting yourself up 2)copying and pasting your comments 3)posting false facts 4)repeatedly, without any reason, bashing VW These are the EXACT same behaviors that vwfailsagain exhibited. And BTW, let me know when the Focus or Elantra can "crest the 50 mpg plateau." Please, just go away. We all know you are vwfailsagain in disguise, and this comment just proves it. AB has shown that it doesn't want you around by banning you several times. (tantareanujellob, vwfailsagain, vwfails, vwfailagain, vwlolfail, vwlulzfail, vwfail, mexicanjetta, poweredbylolz, etc etc.). Not to mention that you and over9000, and probably JohnEnzo, are the same person. Just troll somewhere else, please. I'm begging you. Maybe one day AOL will start an AB for kids.....your comments would fit in a lot better there.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
          Justin Campanale
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          Great job, now you're REALLY proving that you're Vwfailsagain. Another trait that Vwfailsagain exhibited: copying and pasting other people's comments.
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Oh look, it's our old buddy Vwfailsagain/tantareanujellob under a new name!!! BTW, diesel cars are under-rated. You obviously missed the part where the writer said that the car can easily get 50 MPG. I muself used to have an A3 TDI and I frequented 46-49 mpg on the freeway, and I drive like a maniac. When I drove at the speed limit, I got 51-54 mpg.
      Northern Light
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow! It's a 2002 Ford Mondeo lookalike! Very dated looking, drab interior too. Is this just a US version or all they all so dull and boring?
      BlackDynamiteOn
      • 2 Years Ago
      The best-selling diesel in America, with around 50k sales last year...... BD
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