2003 Volkswagen Jetta Reviews

2003 Jetta New Car Test Drive

The following review is for a 2002 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.


The Volkswagen Jetta is the best-selling European import on the U.S. market. It's available in any guise. There's a low-cost sedan, a frugal diesel, a sports sedan, and a sport wagon. 

If you want a sports sedan, there's the Jetta GLS 1.8T and the new Jetta GLI. Power is up for both the 1.8T and the VR6. Volkswagen retuned the 1.8-liter turbocharged engine to produce 180 horsepower. The mid-year return of the Jetta GLI model includes a big power boost for the 2.8-liter VR6 engine, which jumps to 200 horsepower. 


Jetta comes in eight permutations, including four trim levels and four engines: GL 2.0L ($16,850); GL TDI ($18,145); GLS 2.0L ($17,900); GLS TDI ($18,950); GLS 1.8T ($19,550); GLS 2.8L VR6 ($20,200); GLI 2.8L VR6 ($22,950); GLX 2.8L VR6 ($24,700). The Jetta is also offered as a station wagon, including the GL 2.0L ($17,650); GLS 2.0L ($18,700); GLS 1.8T; GLX 2.8L VR6 ($25,500). 

GL is the entry level, providing access to VW's build quality at a reasonable price. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces a meager 115 horsepower, but makes up for it with a 24/31 mpg city/highway EPA fuel economy rating. Like all Jettas, it has four doors, and it comes with full body color exterior trim, 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, intermittent wipers, rear window and side mirror defrosters, power locks, AM/FM/cassette, manual remote mirrors, HVAC filter, cloth interior, air conditioning and side curtain and seat airbags, but you'll have to crank your windows manually. 

GL TDI is powered by a turbodiesel; it's rated at just 90 horsepower, but that's deceiving because it is not at all sluggish with its 155 foot-pounds of torque. And the 34/49 mpg city/highway EPA rating is not overstated, according to TDI owners. Cruise control is standard. 

GLS adds power mirrors, front center armrest, cruise control, AM/FM/cassette/CD, velour interior, power windows. 

GLS 1.8T includes the 180-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an electronic differential lock. 

GLX not only gets the VR6 six-cylinder engine, but also projector lens foglamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated windshield washer nozzles and rain sensor windshield wipers, automatic climate control, trip computer, automatic dimming inside rearview mirror, driver and passenger 8-way power seats, manual rear sunshade, leather seats, steering wheel and so on, and real wood trim. 

The GLI, Volkswagen's highest-powered V6 car, comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, spin-controlling ESP technology, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual chome exhaust, special sports seats and leather-covered steering wheel. 

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