2010 Jetta New Car Test Drive
The Volkswagen Jetta is a premium small car that drives much like high-dollar German cars costing twice its price. Officially it's a compact car, but it compares well to smaller mid-size sedans. It's offered in sedan and wagon body styles with a choice of three engines.
For 2010, the Jetta line is basically unchanged. A SportWagen joined the sedan in late summer 2008 as a 2009 model, adding flexibility without a larger footprint or any compromise in efficiency. The performance-oriented GLI model has been dropped, and replaced by the TDI Cup Street Edition, a street-legal version of VW's Jetta TDI Cup race series cars.
The 2010 Jetta lineup includes TDI versions of the sedan or wagon, featuring a turbocharged clean-diesel engine and superior mileage. (The diesel was absent from VW's lineup in 2007 and 2008, due to stricter emissions controls, but a redesigned edition reappeared in 2009, with more power and certification for all 50 states.) Electronic stability control and a cold weather package with heated front seats and steering wheel are standard on all 2010 models. The standard stability control system comes two years ahead of a federal mandate requiring all vehicles sold in the U.S. to have some sort of standard stability control feature.
The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta lineup offers three engine choices: a 170-hp 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder (the standard base powerplant); a turbocharged 2-liter, 200-hp four-cylinder (employed in a number of different VW and Audi models); and a 2-liter, 140-hp turbocharged diesel four-cylinder, dubbed the TDI (for Turbo Direct Injection). EPA figures run from 21 mpg city on the gas engines to 41 mpg highway for the thrifty TDI.
We found the Jetta responsive around town and comfortable on long trips. It carves through curves precisely, but rides comfortably.
Inside, the Jetta is roomy and nicely finished, benefitting from Volkswagen's attention to detail. The driver enjoys excellent visibility and ease of operation, with logical controls and instruments. Finish quality is good, inside and out. The trunk is larger than in many sedans costing much more. The basic warranty has been shortened by a year but now includes all scheduled maintenance; the longer roadside assistance and powertrain warranty periods remain.
The Jetta was redesigned and re-engineered from the ground up midway through 2005. It still seems fresh to us, and the wagon model adds an element of flexibility. We find its styling more pleasant than exciting. If you like the idea of a solid four-door and are ready to try some European flavor, the Jetta is the best deal in town, a combination of price and German character that's made it the bestselling European car in the U.S. market.
The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta comes as a four-door sedan or SportWagen in one of four trim levels. S and SE models use the basic 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with the 2.5; a six-speed manual is standard with the 2.0T and TDI; a six-speed automatic is optional ($1100) with any of the three engines.
Jetta S sedan ($17,605) and wagon ($19,510) come with velour cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows, power locks with remote, power heated mirrors, cruise control, electronic stability and traction control, CD player, eight-way manually adjustable heated front seats with lumbar support and power recliners, split folding rear seat, manual tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, and 205/55HR all-season tires on 16-inch steel wheels. SportWagen models add an intermittent rear wipe/wash and cargo compartment details. Options include metallic paint, sunroof ($1,000), panoramic dual-glass sunroof on wagons ($1,300), alloy wheels ($450), rear side airbags ($350), and iPod interface ($199).
The Jetta SE sedan ($20,395) and wagon ($23,240) add alloy wheels, more chrome, a sunroof on sedans, 6CD/MP3/Sirius satellite radio sound system, V-Tex (imitation leather) upholstery and door panel inserts, a rear seat/trunk pass-through and a fold-flat front passenger seat for long items. Options mirror the S model plus 225/45R17 tires on alloy wheels ($450) and a navigation system ($1990).
The Wolfsburg Edition sedan ($22,280) comes with the 200-hp 2.0T engine and six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic, essentially with SE content plus 17-inch alloy wheels and dark exterior trim. Options are limited to rear side airbags ($350) and iPod adapter ($199).
The Jetta SEL sedan ($23,280) features the 2.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic. Jetta SEL gets 17-inch alloy wheels, body-color front and rear trim, dual-zone climate control, multifunction steering wheel and trip computer, premium sound, HomeLink, a 115-volt rear outlet, and leather trim for the steering wheel and handbrake. SEL options include a sunroof ($1,000), panoramic sunroof for the wagon ($1,300), rear side airbags ($350), and navigation ($1,990).
Jetta TDI sedans ($22,830) and wagons ($24,615) use six-speed manual or DSG transmissions and are equipped much like SE sedans, minus a sunroof. TDI options include rear side airbags ($350), 17-inch ally wheels ($450), sunroof ($1,300), iPod adapter ($199), and navigation ($1,990). The U.S. government is offering a $1300 U.S. federal income tax credit to those for the diesel Jetta.
Safety features that come standard include front airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags for torso protection, and curtain-style airbags for head protection front and rear. Rear side airbags, which are not recommended with child seats and small occupants, are optional. All Jettas have anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist, traction control (ASR) and electronic stability control. Roadside assistance is included in the Jetta warranty package.
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