2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan SEnlarge Photo
Diesel equals smelly and dirty, right? Wrong! GreenCarReports.com highlights this with more information on how far diesel cars have come. More than half the cars in Europe are powered by diesel fuel. Why? Because diesel can be made from oil other than light, sweet crude, we don't have to work quite so hard to process and distribute diesel. So, okay, the network of diesel pumps isn't quite as prolific as here in the U.S.
That's because too many people still remember the belching stink-bombs that were the diesel trucks a couple of decades ago. One vehicle has the power to change that perception in the U.S.: The Jetta TDI. Heck, it can go head-to-head with a Prius and win on gas mileage. The Jetta can net less environmental impact, is the claim.
Diesel engines are important to the whole green car discussion because they make biodiesel a step closer. Sure, right now biodiesel is fodder for Discovery Channel specials, but think about all that grease being dumped from all those french fry cookeries. It's a thought!
Now Audi is in the game. Of course, to add confusion for the newly initiated, Audi's ads use the "TDI" abbreviation, too. Okay, so there's the Jetta TDI, where TDI = "Turbo Diesel Intercooled." For the Audi diesel models, TDI = Turbocharging and Direct Injection. So, we can't rely on TDI specifying a brand like "VW" or "Audi," but we sure can rely on TDI to call out this new breed of diesel that promises to help reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
Audi diesel models right now are the Q7 and A3. I say much less about them here because the Q7 a $50,000 vehicle. Sure, plenty of families have that money to spend, but I'd rather focus on vehicles that free up that money to pay for travel hockey, which doesn't leave much room in the budget for much else! Of course, TheCarConnection has a fabulous review of the Audi Q7 as well, with an awesome 8.8 of 10 rating.
I'm still a fan of the Jetta as a small family car because of its drivability. It's very easy for even a short-statured parent (uhh... me.) to get in the driver's seat and feel comfortable and even commanding while driving. We test-drove the Jetta with the whole family plus the sales guy... and, yes, we all fit. It wouldn't have been comfy for a long trip unless I'm the one in the rear-middle seat, but it's certainly plenty of room for all four of us, one still being in a booster seat. The VW Jetta ranks 8 out of 10 overall, which isn't bad at all.
So, when the ads for both the Jetta and Audi TDI models are trying very hard to dispel the "dirty diesel" myth, I'm all about supporting it. The TDI is another case making of a car we already love be kinder to the environment and our family budgets.
The bottom line is that the vehicles are the same, just fueled differently. That means if you love the Jetta or the Q7, these diesel models will be even better because they're clean-burning and fuel efficient. Right now, gas prices are cool, but just wait... and you'll be glad you have that diesel!