The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, the lowest priced European sedan, once again offers a lot of car for the dollar. It's noted for its upscale look and feel, strong engine selections, nice ride, comfortable seating, and excellent storage capacity in either sedan or wagon form.
New for 2009 is the Sportwagen body style and a new more powerful diesel-fueled TDI engine. More uplevel standard features have been added as well, including heated seats, stability control and heated washer nozzles. In addition, the navigation system (optional) has been upgraded to include a touchscreen interface and a 30GB hard drive.
The 2009 VW Jetta is offered in both sedan and Sportwagen forms. The sedan is available in five trims: S, SE, SEL, Wolfsburg Edition and TDI. The Sportwagen is available in four trims, the same as the sedan but there is no Wolfsburg Edition.
Standard Features And Options:
Standard features on the already well-equipped entry level Jetta S include 16 inch steel wheels, cruise control, heated front seats, air conditioning, a tilt and telescoping steering column, eight-way adjustable front seats with power recline, keyless entry, heated mirrors and washer nozzles, a 60/40-split rear seat, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Jetta SE model adds a sunroof (sedan only, optional on the S and TDI), alloy wheels (optional on the S), a rear seat armrest, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (sedan), and a ten-speaker audio system with satellite radio and a 6-disc CD changer.
The top-of-the-line Jetta SEL adds 17 inch alloys, a trip computer and a multifunction steering wheel. The Sportwagen SEL models are also equipped with a turbocharged engine, a twelve-way power driver seat with memory, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, Homelink and upgraded speakers.
The features of the Jetta TDI sedan are almost the same as the SEL sedan, however there's no sunroof and the wheels are 16 inch alloys. The special edition TDI Loyal adds premium speakers. The Sportwagen TDI comes very much like the SE Sportwagen, but adds a trip computer.
The Jetta Wolfsburg Edition is pretty much an SE sedan with a turbocharged engine, 17 inch wheels, and Wolfsburg badging, but without exterior chrome window trim.
Available options on all Jettas include an iPod interface and rear side airbags. There's a touchscreen navigation system with a 30GB hard drive, digital music storage, SB memory card slot, USB port and DVD playback that's offered on all models except the Jetta S. There's also an optional panoramic sunroof for the SportWagen.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
A choice of three engines are available for the 2009 Jetta. All S and SE models, plus the SEL sedan, are equipped with a 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. This engine is mated with a standard five-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic (with Tiptronic automanual shifting as well) is available as an option. A manual Jetta SE goes from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds.
The EPA gas mileage rating for this engine, whether manual or automatic, is 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway.
Both the 2009 Wolfsburg Edition sedan and the SEL Sportwagen are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (the same as VW's high-performance GLI and GTI models). It's rated at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque and is coupled with a six-speed manual transmission. while a dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission is available as an option.
Both of these models go from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 7 seconds, while gas mileage is about the same as the 2.5 liter engine models. Gas mileage for the manual comes in at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The very efficient DSG automatic ups gas mileage to 22 mpg in the city.
Powering the Jetta TDI is a 2.0 liter turbodiesel engine that uses Volkswagen's new clean diesel technology which has earned emission compliance in all 50 states. It outputs 140 horsepower and an impressive 236 lb-ft of torque and is mated with the six-speed manual transmission of the Wolfsburg or the optional DSG automatic.
Gas mileage for the manual TDI is 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. The diesel with the DSG comes in at 29 and 40 respectively.
Standard safety equipment on all Jettas includes antilock disc brakes (ABS), traction control, stability control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are an available option on all models.
In government crash testing, both the Jetta sedan and Sportwagen earned four out of five stars for frontal collision protection and five stars for side protection.
One of the obvious strengths of the Jetta is its high grade material, upscale cabin. Even the "leatherette" upholstery (vinyl) in most Jettas is finely stitched and pretty much passes for the real thing, plus it's easier to clean.
With its cool blue instrument and radio lights and user-friendly stereo and climate controls, the cockpit area is both attractive and functional. And the new and improved navigation system now offers an easy-to-use touchscreen interface that has sped up processing time and devotes 20GB (out of 30GB) to digital music storage.
Front seating is spacious while rear legroom is adequate. There's also plenty of trunk space provided, an impressive 16 cubic feet. Cargo space for the Sportwagen comes in at 32.8 cubic feet, or 66.9 cubic feet with the rear seat down.
The 2009 Jetta is a relatively quiet ride with responsive steering and above average acceleration. It handles the day-to-day driving challenges well, yet isn't boring. Driving enthusiasts, however, who are looking for a more performance-oriented experience, may want to consider the Volkswagen GLI, previously the Jetta GLI, due to its sport suspension.
As you may expect, the TDI models add a little more noise and lack a bit of the high-end acceleration. But with its athletic low-end torque, the diesel is impressive off the line and great for those around town chores.