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Long-Term Test of VW Jetta TDI Reveals Family-Friendly Nature

Updated December 16, 2012

As we head into the U.S. auto show season with the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show just ahead of us – the place where Green Car Journal will announce its 2010 Green Car of the Year® – it’s enlightening to look back at our long-term experience with the 2009 Green Car of the Year® winner announced last year, the VW Jetta TDI. Many months spent behind the wheel have provided a good sense of this model and its capabilities.

Living with this clean diesel sedan has been a gratifying experience. It has pulled regular family duty ranging from transporting kids to school to regular chores like shopping and trips downtown, plus plying many hundreds of miles of highway during family vacations.

Then there’s the occasional foray to the home do-it-yourself center where the trunk gets chock-full of potting soil, cans of paint, lighting fixtures, and the many necessities required for keeping a modern homestead in top shape. We won’t dwell on the 8 foot tree stakes and irrigation pipes loaded diagonally in the interior, hanging conspicuously (and legally) out the window with red flags. Suffice it to say that when duty called, our Jetta TDI test vehicle stepped up without hesitation to handle some of the tasks that in past years were performed by larger and more utilitarian vehicles.
Over the months, we have come to truly appreciate what advanced clean diesel technology – and VW’s 2.0-liter TDI (turbo direct injection) engine in particular – can bring to the daily driving experience. The fundamentals are looked after well, including very low emissions and notably high fuel efficiency for a combustion engine. We’ve said this many times before, but it bears repeating. While EPA mileage estimates for the Jetta TDI are 30 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway (revised to 42 mpg for the 2010 model), those are surprisingly low estimates. Many drivers have reported consistently beating those numbers without real effort and our driving experience bears this out as well.
Fuel economy and emissions are important measures of a modern vehicle, but by no means the only ones. A vehicle should also provide a sense of safety, durability, and the comfort and functionality required for all your daily driving needs. We happen to believe that spirited driving is also an important part of the equation since, after all, life’s too short not to have fun on the road. As we’ve found during our time behind the wheel this year, the VW Jetta TDI delivers all these, and more. At $22,660 for the current Jetta TDI sedan and $23,870 for the Jetta SportWagon TDI variant, there’s a lot of goodness available at an approachable price.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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