2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
March 3, 2010

"Farfegnugen" no longer applies to the entire 2010 Volkswagen Jetta line, but with an excellent interior and an available TDI engine, the Jetta sedan or SportWagen makes a lot of sense for budget-conscious or even eco-conscious families.

In order to bring you the most useful review information covering the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, TheCarConnection.com's editors have gathered excerpts from other reputable resources in a full review, then compared and contrasted them with their own firsthand driving impressions, authoring a Bottom Line take that sums it all up. This review also covers the new TDI Jetta, with its economical clean-diesel engine, and the Sportwagen body style.

Volkswagen's compact sedans and wagons are called the Jetta and Jetta SportWagen, respectively, and carry over to 2010 with just a few new features and interior revisions, prior to being completely redesigned for 2011.

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta doesn’t stand out from the pack, as it once did, for styling alone—it’s pleasant, inside and out, but by no means bold. At nearly 180 inches long, the Jetta is almost a mid-size sedan now. The roomy interior has a handsome, upscale look, with better materials in general than you'd find in an entry sedan, though the layout appears quite conservative, upright, and businesslike. To put it bluntly, the new Jetta more closely resembles a large Toyota Corolla than its own crisply European ancestors.

Last year Volkswagen reintroduced its TDI clean-diesel engine to the Jetta lineup—this time, it makes 140 horsepower and is 50-state emissions-legal. With fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway, the Jetta TDI and SportWagen TDI models might make more economic sense than the gasoline versions if you plan to do a lot of driving over many years of ownership—further sweetened, potentially, by a $1,300 federal tax credit that still might apply. The TDI engine is TheCarConnection.com's clear pick of the three engines offered. At the top of the range (though priced lower than the TDI) is the Wolfsburg (formerly GLI), which brings a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine; it's strong and torquey and more fuel-efficient in real-world driving than its 21/31 EPA ratings suggest. Each version can be matched with a manual or automatic, and both the TDI and the 2.0T engine are served well by the excellent dual-clutch automatic transmission. The only other option is the base 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine. The five makes 170 horsepower and a robust 177 pound-feet of torque—and it functions very well with the optional six-speed automatic (unfortunately no dual-clutch here), but it's one of the thirstiest engines in a base compact sedan, achieving just 22/30 mpg or 23/30 mpg in the EPA figures.

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In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)

The story is much better with respect to handling. The Jetta offers a sportier alternative to the compact sedans from Honda, Toyota, GM, and Ford, and its steering is among the best electric power-steering units in the business. The Wolfsburg model gets a sport suspension that yields a slightly crisper turn-in without much affecting ride comfort.

The interior of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is precisely Volkswagen, with sophisticated looks and feel, switches that work smoothly, and grab handles that are well damped. It's roomy, too, with nearly as much backseat space as the slightly larger Passat. The tall ceiling helps afford a feeling of spaciousness, and there's more shoulder room than your average compact. In back, the trunk is quite cavernous at 16 cubic feet with fold-down rear seats for even more storage. Ride quality is firm but absorbent enough to be comfortable, and overall the cabin is considerably quieter than most budget-minded shoppers would expect. For 2010, all the Jettas get a revised instrument cluster and new steering-wheel design. Jetta Sportwagen models have an almost identical feature set to the sedan but come with a wide-opening back hatch and fold-flat backseat cargo area, allowing a lot more utility and flexibility.

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is especially strong with respect to occupant protection and safety features. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are optional, as are front side-impact airbags, full-length curtain/head airbags, and supplemental rear side bags (they're usually not at all offered in this class). The Jetta gets four stars from NHTSA for front-impact protection and five stars for side impacts, but it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick, with top "good" scores in frontal offset, side, and rear impact tests, along with the new roof-strength test.

The Jetta's option and feature lineup has been pared down in recent years; automatic climate control and leather seats are no longer offered, but it's still very well equipped. A new touch-screen radio replaces the old unit in SE and SEL models. A sunroof is optional, Bluetooth connectivity is now available on all 2010 Volkswagen Jetta models, and the price of the navigation-system option (which includes a 30-gigabyte hard drive, SD memory slot, and iPod connectivity) has been reduced.

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2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Styling

Volkswagen might have a reputation for design flair, but it doesn't show here in the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta. Inside, function trumps form.

At nearly 180 inches long, the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is almost a mid-size sedan now, so its proportions differ from past models. The Jetta doesn’t stand out from the pack, as it once did, for styling alone—it’s pleasant, inside and out, but by no means bold. To put it bluntly, the new Jetta looks too much like a large Toyota Corolla and not enough like its own crisply European ancestors.

Intellichoice agrees, calling it an “overgrown Toyota Corolla dressed in papa Passat's clothes.” They also remark, “Gone is the Teutonic styling, once elegant in its stark, purposeful appearance, replaced by a more staid, Japanese-influenced design.” This opinion is seconded by The Auto Channel, which feels that the Jetta is “nothing very special to look at, particularly in [its] soft gray color.” Edmunds cites the “dull exterior styling,” which “contradicts the nameplate’s youthful image.”

Not all reviewers are negative about the exterior, though. Automedia calls it “crisp and handsome, with its sculpted wedge profile, strong upper and lower character lines and contemporary taillamps,” while CNET says, “Gone are the boxy corners and the rectangular lights. VW has replaced them with more refined, curvaceous bodywork and lights that feature circles and ellipses.”

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta might be generic outside, but inside it’s a well-drawn, well-fitted place. The roomy interior has a handsome, upscale look, with better materials in general than you'd find in an entry sedan, though the layout looks quite conservative, upright, and businesslike.

“Unfortunately, the interior doesn't live up to the expectations generated by the exterior styling,” laments CNET. But other reviewers like the look, with Edmunds referring to its “elegant trim,” and Automedia remarking, “The roomier new interior is attractively designed and beautifully assembled from premium materials throughout.”

8

2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Performance

Performance is unimpressive in the base 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, but TDI and Wolfsburg models offer a more eager feel and better fuel economy.

Last year Volkswagen reintroduced its TDI clean-diesel engine to the Jetta lineup—this time, it makes 140 horsepower and is 50-state emissions-legal. With fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway, the Jetta TDI and SportWagen TDI models might make more economic sense than the gasoline versions if you plan to do a lot of driving over many years of ownership—further sweetened, potentially, by a $1,300 federal tax credit that still might apply.

The TDI engine is TheCarConnection.com's clear pick of the three engines offered. The all-new 2.0L clean diesel engine produces 140 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, "The engine's effortless yet clean performance is the result of the common-rail direct injection delivering a supply of ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel into the combustion chambers through high-pressure Piezo injectors," says Inside Line.

“The new 2.0-liter diesel feels far more powerful and refined than the previous 1.9-liter turbo-diesel engine. Power builds in a steady and linear manner, and although a whiff of turbo lag remains, it is far more tolerable than it was in the past,” says Car and Driver. “One big plus is that this VW system does not require the addition of urea or any other additive to scrub the exhaust clean,” states Edmunds.com, adding, “At the test rack, we recorded acceleration to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds and the car made its pass through the quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds at 82.5 mph.”

When it comes to fuel mileage on the TDI, “Volkswagen tells us that the EPA estimates that the Jetta TDI will achieve 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. During our test cycle, mileage varied between 26.0 mpg and 40.1 mpg,” says Edmunds.

At the top of the range (though priced lower than the TDI) is the Wolfsburg (formerly GLI), which brings a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine; it's strong and torquey and more fuel-efficient in real-world driving than its 21/31 mpg EPA ratings suggest. This engine earns praise all around, both for its performance and its decent fuel requirements. ConsumerGuide finds that the “GLI models are satisfyingly quick, particularly in the 45-65-mph range.”

The base five-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and a robust 177 pound-feet of torque—and it functions very well with the optional six-speed automatic (unfortunately no dual-clutch here), but it's one of the thirstiest engines in a base compact sedan, achieving just 22/30 mpg or 23/30 mpg in the EPA figures. TheCarConnection.com thinks it's adequate but uninspiring; Automobile Magazine calls it “anemic,” and says with the automatic, the Volkswagen Jetta takes 9.1 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph. Kelley Blue Book asserts that the 2010 Jetta is “now fast enough to nose its way past the pack when it has to.” Autoblog agrees, noting that “when you ask it to get the heck down the road, it will, eventually, respond,” but the “sluggish” engine could take its time to reach peak power delivery.

Each version can be matched with a manual or automatic, and both the TDI and the 2.0T engine are served well by the excellent dual-clutch automatic transmission. The only other option is the base 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine. Automobile Magazine says, “Both the manual and automatic transmissions are slick and fun to use,” but calls the dual-clutch gearbox the “best of both worlds.”

The story is much better with respect to handling. The Jetta offers a sportier alternative to the compact sedans from Honda, Toyota, GM, and Ford, and it has one of the best electric power-steering units in the business. The Wolfsburg model gets a sport suspension that yields a slightly crisper turn-in without much affecting ride comfort. In reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the Jetta’s braking abilities are also heavily praised, but its electric power steering is deemed numb by several sources, including Automobile Magazine. Overall, Automobile Magazine contends the “ride quality is excellent, and the handling is both entertaining and sure-footed.” Edmunds feels that the Jetta’s steering and handling make it “a class standout” and notices it “corners with grippy assurance and modest body lean.”

8

2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Comfort & Quality

The interior of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is roomy and comes dressed in materials that will likely wow even the most finicky shoppers, but opinions differ on cabin refinement and quietness.

The interior of the 2010 Jetta is precisely Volkswagen, with a sophisticated look and feel, switches that work smoothly, and grab handles that are well damped. It's roomy, too, with nearly as much backseat space as the slightly larger Passat. The tall ceiling affords a feeling of spaciousness, and there's more shoulder room than in your average compact.

“Shoulder, hip, head and legroom is increased front and rear compared to previous Jettas, with the added rear legroom especially noticeable to back-seat-riding adults,” says Automedia. In back, the trunk is quite cavernous at 16 cubic foot, and fold-down rear seats offer even more storage. The trunk itself is “surprisingly spacious,” Automedia adds.

For 2010, all Jettas get a revised instrument cluster and new steering-wheel design. Jetta Sportwagen models have an almost identical feature set to the sedan but come with a wide-opening back hatch and fold-flat backseat cargo area, allowing a lot more utility and flexibility.

If there's one element on the Jetta that nearly all reviewers agree on, it's the refinement and excellence of the materials used in the cabin. Edmunds says “none in this segment can touch the Jetta when it comes to sheer refinement.” Automobile adds, “It also feels very solid and more expensive than most of its main competition—which, in fact, it is.” MotherProof feels that the Jetta sports the same amount of luxury as “a car twice the price.” ConsumerGuide praises the Jetta’s quality as “among the best in class.” TheCarConnection.com notes that throughout the interior, switches work smoothly and grab handles are well damped, giving it an upscale feel.

Ride quality is firm but absorbent enough to be comfortable, and overall the cabin is considerably quieter than most budget-minded shoppers would expect. But several reviewers find the Jetta to be noisy on the highway, reaching a decibel level that Autoblog refers to as not “unbearably noisy, but with the level of interior refinement, [they] just expected to hear less of the outside world.” Aside from the road noise, ConsumerGuide considers the ride quality to be “jiggly, thumpy, and borderline harsh on all but smooth roads”—a description that TheCarConnection.com's editors do not agree with.

Autoblog notices touches like the child-safety anchors in the backseat, where “even their rear LATCH point got prettied-up by one of the company’s designers with a brushed-steel look.”

9

2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Safety

Among smaller sedans and wagons, the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is one of your safest, most secure picks.

The Jetta is especially strong with respect to occupant protection and safety features. The Jetta gets four stars from NHTSA for front-impact protection and five stars for side impacts, but it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick, with top "good" scores in frontal offset, side, and rear impact tests, along with the new roof-strength test.

Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are optional on the 2010 Jetta, as are front side-impact airbags, full-length curtain/head airbags, and supplemental rear side bags (they're usually not at all offered in this class).

MotherProof appreciates that the “super-strong door beams protect passengers in the event of a collision” and notes that all Jettas feature a “nifty traction control system to help with slippery roads.”

8

2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Features

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is rather luxurious to begin with—and it offers a long list of options.

The Jetta's option and feature lineup has been pared down in recent years (automatic climate control and leather seats are no longer offered), but it's still a very well-equipped model. A new touch-screen radio replaces the old unit in 2010 VW Jetta SE and SEL models. A sunroof is optional, Bluetooth connectivity is now available on all 2010 Jetta models, and the price of the navigation-system option (which includes a 30-gigabyte hard drive, SD memory slot, and iPod connectivity) has been reduced.

Standard equipment even on base S models includes cruise control, air conditioning, split folding rear seats, and heated front seats, along with an eight-speaker sound system. Automobile Magazine says that “if you're prepared to check all the options boxes, a Jetta can be made very luxurious.” But Inside Line emphasizes that the Volkswagen Jetta TDI "is no bare-bones, high-mpg econobox aimed at those of the hypermiler persuasion."

Autoblog appreciates how the Jetta comes with a real iPod dock—“not a simple auxiliary jack, but an honest-to-goodness dock for your Apple-made mp3 player.”

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October 25, 2016
2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan 4-Door DSG TDI

VW computer update 2306-1 ruined this car

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Everything was fine before the VW 2306-1 was installed. What resulted after this update was a car with reduced power and fuel efficiency. This is not the same car we bought.
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