2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 4, 2009

Although the Jetta’s doesn't offer the farfegnugen it once did, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta provides spacious interior room and efficient clean-diesel technology.

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.

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.)

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.

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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.

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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Styling

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta has a very generic style, but inside it's attractively functional.

The current Volkswagen Jetta has been criticized for its Corolla-like lines and for giving up on VW’s crisp, European styling heritage. The interior, though, is precisely Volkswagen, with a simple but sophisticated look and feel.

Intellichoice laments, “Gone is the Teutonic styling, once elegant in its stark, purposeful appearance, replaced by a more staid, Japanese-influenced design.” It’s an “overgrown Toyota Corolla dressed in papa Passat's clothes,” they conclude. This opinion is seconded by The Auto Channel, which feels that the 2009 Jetta is “nothing very special to look at, particularly in [its] soft gray color.” A redesign leaves the Volkswagen Jetta without its trademark angular style and with a “tame exterior,” Edmunds says. It decries the Jetta’s “dull exterior styling” that “contradicts the nameplate’s youthful image.”

CNET has the opposite sentiment: “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.” Automedia likes it as well, calling it “crisp and handsome, with its sculpted wedge profile, strong upper and lower character lines and contemporary taillamps.”

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta might be generic outside, but inside it’s a well-drawn, well-fitted place. Automedia remarks, “The roomier new interior is attractively designed and beautifully assembled from premium materials throughout.” Edmunds refers to its “elegant trim,” and 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.” “Unfortunately, the interior doesn't live up to the expectations generated by the exterior styling,” argues CNET.

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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

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.

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.

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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta has a luxurious interior and plenty of room for four adults, but noise is a common complaint.

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta has good interior room and great quality, but noise can be an issue.

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.” When first sitting inside the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, you will notice that the interior is unexpectedly luxurious, especially for a car with its low price tag. MotherProof feels that the Jetta sports the same amount of luxury as “a car twice the price.” ConsumerGuide concurs, praising the 2009 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.

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. “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. The trunk itself is “surprisingly spacious” at 16 cubic feet, Automedia adds.

Several reviewers find the 2009 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.”

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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Safety

The 2009 VW Jetta has a long list of safety features and fares very well in crash tests.

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta performs exceptionally well in crash tests and has good standard safety equipment for a small, affordable sedan.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Jetta its top score in both
frontal-offset and side-impact crashes and named it a Top Safety Pick for 2009. The Jetta also scored well in independent crash tests and earned high marks from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

All 2009 Volkswagens come standard with Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP).
ESP combines three technologies—anti-lock brakes, traction control, and yaw
control—to create an active vehicle safety control system. When necessary, ESP
intervenes in a nanosecond to help realign the vehicle and keep it on the road.

2009 Volkswagen Jettas also feature front side-impact airbags, full-length curtain/head
airbags, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution.

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.” Other safety features include such necessary items as anti-lock brakes on all four wheels and six airbags that come standard.

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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

Features

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta is rather luxurious to begin with—and it offers a long list of options.

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta sports a competitive list of standard and optional features. However, the Volkswagen Jetta no longer offers automatic climate control or leather seats, but a sunroof and a premium sound system are still on the options list.

Reviewers at Autoblog love the Jetta’s iPod dock, which is “not a simple auxiliary jack, but an honest-to-goodness dock for your Apple-made mp3 player.”

“Standard equipment is relatively generous, with a three-spoke steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, eight-way seat adjustment, and a 10-speaker radio/CD player,” notes Automobile Magazine, adding, “Other features include power mirrors, a split folding rear seat, and a two-way adjustable steering wheel.” They also say that “if you're prepared to check all the options boxes, a Jetta can be made very luxurious.”

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November 1, 2015
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan 4-Door DSG TDI

Love Diesel

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I'll buy another one when they get the nox fixed. The Diesel Torque and Dual Clutch transmission are perfect.
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