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Edmunds: Long-Term Test: 2005.5 Volkswagen Jetta

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March 2006

Our Blue Graphite Jetta now has in excess of 8,000 miles on the clock and has seen everything from road trips to weekend drives to daily commutes that rack up more than 100 miles per day. Our overall impression of the car is very favorable, but the not-so-little Jetta still has to put up with gripes about its exterior look. A few editors have likened this recently redesigned Jetta to a Corolla and one even said it "lacked character."

But as time wears on, we've become increasingly aware of the little things that conspire to push the Jetta beyond mere affordable transportation and well into "gotta have" territory. For example, it's not readily noticeable but the headlights have a little shroud inside covering the end of the filament with a VW logo. Also, the prominent chrome grille gives the car a classier look than other cars at its price point.

Road Test Editor Brian Moody said, "I like the Jetta's distinct look up front. The front-end treatment, including the large VW badge, seems to put the car a class ahead of cars like the Civic or Corolla." However, he added, "Too bad about the view from the rear; looks a little blah."

The interior is clearly a high point and the level of quality in the materials says "German engineering" loud and clear. Also, the standard stereo in our Value Edition Jetta sounds better than the units found in similarly priced cars; more than one editor has commented on how comfortable the seats are.

Specific VW touches that set the car apart are best illustrated by the dual vanity lights. Many cars have this feature but it's the VW's sliding mirror cover that turns the light on and off that seems like a little something extra. Other interior comments praised the gauge cluster. Manager of Vehicle Testing Kelly Toepke said, "…the Audi style time, temperature and warning light display in the center of the gauges leads me to feel like I'm driving a car that's more expensive than $19,000."

Another area of praise for the Jetta is its spacious trunk. One driver even bothered to document all the stuff she could wedge into the Jetta's trunk. "With room to spare we crammed two large wrapped gifts, two rolling carry-on bags, one large duffel bag, one small duffel bag, a video camera with accessory case and a hanging-style garment bag." If it can swallow all that stuff, it should be able to handle pretty much anything we can reasonably throw at it.

The Jetta's driving dynamics have led our editors to fill the logbook with mixed messages. Some thought the car too slow, while others think it's just fine the way it is. Editor in Chief Rich Homan noted, "The initial bite in the throttle will chirp the tires but it's not really set up for midrange or top-end performance." Road Test Editor Brian Moody noted, "The six-speed transmission is greatly appreciated — shifts are smooth and there always seems to be plenty of passing power." Senior Content Editor Erin Riches agreed with Brian, sort of. She said, "The Jetta's power is perfectly acceptable; no more and no less."

Our PZEV Jetta with the 2.5-liter engine makes 150 hp so it's clearly not intended as a street racer. Curiously, our Jetta requires premium fuel, which isn't so easy on the pocketbook. A recent fill-up with the tank down to a quarter cost nearly $40. Thankfully, we've been averaging just over 23 mpg, so those expensive fill-ups come somewhat infrequently.

Fuel prices aside, we think the real story here is that none of our editors' criticisms are "big ticket" items. So far we don't think the VW Jetta will redefine the segment but it is certainly a practical and competent ride with a little extra "certain something" we've enjoyed in previous Volkswagens. Also, our car has had no mechanical or electrical problems. In fact, it has never needed service outside of regular maintenance.

So far we are pleased with our Jetta as it is comfortable, reliable and reasonably priced. Still, no one's trying to cut in line and score it for their high school reunion.

Current Odometer: 8,606

Best Fuel Economy: 25.7 mpg

Worst Fuel Economy: 19.0 mpg

Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 23.5 mpg

Body Repair Costs: None

Maintenance Costs: None

Problems: None.

Posted Image

Link: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...rticleId=107086

Previous Updates

December 2005


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23.5 mpg on premium gas.....NOT an economy car if you ask me.

since when is 8,000 miles a 'LONG term test'?

It's a continuation. They'll do further updates in the future.

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