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2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan Photo
7.8
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Marty Padgett
Editorial Director, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$14,894
BASE MSRP
$15,515
Quick Take
The 2012 VW Jetta delivers a better driving feel and more back-seat room than many other compact sedans; skip the cost-cutter base versions in favor of the TDI or the GLI for a distinctive choice in the compact class. Read more »
Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

Sweet, sleek, stylish appearance; a grown-up persona.

USA Today »

the Jetta’s new sheetmetal…is far less Corolla-esque….It’s far more polished and cohesive than the previous generation.

Car and Driver »

…an all-business, conservative design, but one that's handsome enough to run in circles with cars costing twice as much….The interior materials look nice -- perhaps best in segment, but don't feel nearly as cushy or high-quality as those in the Golf.

Automobile »

…the same Playskool-grade plastic coats nearly every surface you touch, from the dash to the doors and covering the center console, instrument panel surround and various trim bits…

Autoblog »

Sections of the interior, like the dashboard, that were previously finished in upscale, soft-touch materials are now hard plastic (albeit decent-looking plastic)….Overall, fit-and-finish quality has declined.

Cars.com »
7.8 out of 10
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The Basics:

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta hits showrooms for the new model year with a big victory notched into its serpentine belt. Critics said the move away from independent suspensions, high-dollar interiors and premium pricing would cost it customers--but VW's beat that bet, and the Jetta's selling better than it has in a decade.

It's no stroke of luck, though. Careful planning and marketing have given shoppers a Volkswagen choice in the cheap-compact class for the first time in a long time, and in a grim economy, that means more people considering the brand. Budget shoppers care less that the Jetta’s rear suspension is an older, cheaper design that’s not fully independent, or that the cabin wears harder plastic than it has in the past. They look past the sluggish base four-cylinder and see the Jetta's much roomier back seat, essentially a body custom-tailored for American buyers, and features like a Fender sound system and Bluetooth to meet their more basic needs.

This year, VW's taken some steps to cater more toward the other VW buyers, the ones more obsessed with handling and heritage. The new GLI model's an instant favorite, with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, its soft-touch dash and its different, independent rear suspension. We're still enthusiastic about the TDI's 42-mpg fuel economy, especially in the SportWagen, which rides on the last-gen Jetta platform and still carries a torch for old-school VW interiors (and tight back seats)--and this year it gets a sunroof and navigation package, making it a great long-distance tourer.

In the grander scheme, the Jetta still shines in its class, in its traditional ways. Handling still is sharper than anything in this class, with near-perfect ride quality that still eludes the Asian competition. The Jetta--even in base form--steers and brakes with a more intimate feel. Only now, six-footers can fit behind tall drivers in the Jetta's back seat, even come out ahead on leg room. It's not progress on all fronts, but with its new take on value, the Jetta pitches itself squarely into a class of cars where its soft-pedaled style and its emphasis on core engineering actually make it stand out more.

 

 

Likes:

  • GLI's turbo thrust, tighter rear suspension
  • Diesel fuel economy bests many hybrids
  • Spacious back seat
  • VW handling still better than (X) handling
  • A huge trunk

Dislikes:

  • Low-key styling in a class of extroverts
  • Base interior's obvious cost-cutting
  • GLI, TDI versions aren't much less expensive than before
  • Navigation system isn't as well-developed
Next: Interior / Exterior »
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