2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan Photo
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On Performance
$5,998 - $15,605
On Performance
Performance is unremarkable in the base 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, but the TDI version is a fuel-efficient performer and the GLI makes a sporty daily driver.
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

“Power builds in a steady and linear manner”
Car and Driver

“Both the manual and automatic transmissions are slick and fun to use”

“Push hard and that European suspension tuning began to show”
The Auto Channel

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta is bland out of the box—but the DSG-equipped turbo four is truly entertaining. 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 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.

The 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine delivers 170 hp. Kelley Blue Book asserts that the 2009 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. Automobile Magazine calls it “anemic,” and says with the automatic, the Volkswagen Jetta takes 9.1 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph. TheCarConnection.com’s editors think that the five is an adequate but 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. 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 one drawback to the turbocharged engine on the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is that, as is the case with most turbo engines, there is a bit of turbo lag until the engine winds up into higher revs. Fuel economy ranges from 22/29 mpg with the five-cylinder to 21/29 mpg with the turbo four.

The SEL edition gets only the six-speed automatic, while the GLI version comes with Volkswagen’s slick six-speed dual-clutch transmission. 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.”

European cars have long been praised for their exceptional handling characteristics, and the 2009 Jetta easily lives up to these standards. 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.” 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.


Performance is unremarkable in the base 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, but the TDI version is a fuel-efficient performer and the GLI makes a sporty daily driver.

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