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TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the new Volkswagen Jetta—including the new fuel-efficient TDI version—in order to give you an expert opinion. And to bring you the best review information anywhere, TheCarConnection.com has also researched available road tests on the Jetta and handpicked some useful insights.
Volkswagen introduces TDI clean-diesel technology in both sedan and SportWagen models for the 2009 model year. The 2.0-liter TDI engine produces 140 horsepower, delivers 30 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway, and meets emissions standards in all 50 states. The new TDI models also qualify for a $1,300 federal income tax credit.
With a range of five-cylinder and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, a sport version, and wagon and diesel versions, the Jetta offers a sportier alternative to the compact sedans from Honda, Toyota, GM, and Ford. However, some feel the new Jetta looks too much like a large Toyota Corolla and not enough like its own crisply European ancestors.
The current Jetta saw a restyle in 2006, when it became significantly roomier but adopted a design that critics think is too close to its Japanese competition. The interior, though, is precisely Volkswagen, with sophisticated looks and feel, switches that work smoothly, and grab handles that are well damped.
The base engine on 2009 Jettas is a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder with 177 pound-feet of torque. It’s a flat performer with either the notchy five-speed manual or the six-speed automatic. Volkswagen’s marvelous 2.0-liter turbocharged four, with 200 hp, is standard on the Jetta GLI, and it can be ordered with the magnificent dual-clutch transmission, easily the most entertaining drivetrain on the new Jetta. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city, 29 highway with the five-cylinder and 21/29 mpg with the turbo four, though we've observed better real-world mileage with the turbo.
The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta is a roomy sedan with a tall ceiling. It gives occupants more room to stretch their legs, bodies, and necks than the average compact, and it has a cavernous 16-cubic-foot trunk with fold-down rear seats for even more storage.
All 2009 Volkswagens come standard with electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. When necessary, the ESP intervenes to help realign the vehicle and keep it on the road. The Jetta gets four stars from NHTSA for front-impact protection and five stars for side impacts. All 2009 Volkswagen Jettas feature front side-impact airbags and full-length curtain/head airbags, and supplemental rear side bags are optional.
The 2009 Jetta no longer offers automatic climate control or leather seats, but it's still very well equipped. A sunroof and a premium sound system are options.