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2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Bookmark

 The Good :) Stylish exterior and interior.  Solid feel of all parts.  Gas mileage near 55 miles per gallon on the highway.  A great all around car.

 The Bad :( Low horsepower at 100bhp.  Rear seats a bit too straight and flat.  Pricy with necessary options.

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In the past year, Volkswagen is finally gaining more popularity in the US.  Just this May, sales were at 22,100 units, a 36% increase over prior year May sales.  This is the biggest sales increase of any automaker.  Within the last year, VW has launched the redesigned mid-size Passat, the sporty GTI coupe, and the compact Jetta.  Also coming to showrooms is the very stylish EOS convertible.  The Jetta is the most important model for VW, accounting for 40% of all sales.  Sales for the Jetta were up a whopping 49% compared to last May. 

Super high gas prices have made us all look for alternatives in order to save money.  The Jetta TDI is one such alternative which can give you great gas mileage. It's also a car that can comfortably seat four adults with ample space for their luggage as well. The TDI is one of a few cars on the road today that can also run on bio-diesel with just a small conversion kit.  Audi, VW's pricier sibling, has been testing diesel technology in the racing circuit.  Audi won the 12 hour race at Sebring with their V12 TDI race car and is the first diesel car to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

            There are only a few diesel cars on the market today.  Mercedes offers a diesel version of their E and S class and VW offers diesel versions of the Golf, Beetle and Jetta.  Besides these brands, no other German, Japanese or American manufacturer offers sedans with diesel engines.  This is a pity since the majority of cars sold in Europe are diesel powered.  Diesel engines offer better fuel economy and provide greater torque over similar sized gasoline engines.  Manufacturers have been able to offer smaller diesel engines yet still get similar torque outputs compared to larger gasoline engines.  Diesel cars have very good acceleration and buyers don't really feel the difference in daily driving conditions.  What's surprising is the Americans haven't caught on to the diesel trend, as a result most manufactures don't plan on offering more cars with diesel technology.  Except for VW and Mercedes, which both have a long history of selling diesel powered cars in the US, we don't see any other brands stepping up to the plate despite the high gas prices.

When you compare cars that get over 45 mpg there is only the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Civic, and the VW Golf, Jetta, and Beetle rounding out the comparison.  You would think those tiny cars like the Toyota Yaris or the Suzuki Aerio get 45mpg, they do not.  The new Camry hybrid gets from 35-40 and may be the only true competition to the Jetta TDI with a sacrifice in mileage however.  Out of these cars the only one with room for four and large luggage space, a comfortable interior and great steering feel is the JETTA.  Plus we even got close to 60 mpg on average highway driving. 

The 1.9 liter diesel engine in the VW Jetta is an all new design with the latest technologies.  The engine is turbocharged with the use of direct injection using high pressure injectors at each cylinder to atomize the fuel for a stronger more thorough combustion.

The 1.9 liter 4-cylinder engine produces 100 horsepower and 177 lbs.-ft. of torque.  Torque is spread over 1,800 - 2,400 rpm while the full 100 horses are achieved at 4,000 rpm.  This leads to quick acceleration from the get go. What's lacking is quick pickup at higher speeds where you really feel the lack of more horses under the hood.  Under almost all situations you are perfectly fine on the highway with 100 horsepower.

Optional is a six speed DSG automatic transmission.  VW said it would spread its dual clutch technology to all automatic models and here it is.  What you get in fully automatic mode is a super fluid gearshift with no feel under normal driving conditions.  Put the VW in sport mode and you drive at higher RPMs for more spirited driving and lightening fast gearshifts.  Move the lever to the right of 'D' and shift manually if you like.  However, DSG is not as fun on the Jetta TDI as it is in the VW GTI.  With the small engine of the TDI you don't fell the raw ultra fast shift as you do in the GTI's 200 horsepower engine which better matches engine RPM's and blips during downshifts.  A little hint at the manual like transmission is felt when you put the car into Park on a slight incline.  The Jetta with DSG will move forward about an inch than in a standard transmission vehicle. 

Most people have worries in the US of smelly diesel engines which are loud and clunky.  This simply is not true any longer.  When the engine is idle the noise is just a bit different than a regular gasoline powered sedan.  VW has done a great deal of work deadening the sound.  Nothing is truly bothersome about the TDI model of today.  The best part is that you can use biodiesel on the Jetta, or any diesel for that matter.

What was our gas mileage you ask?  In the city the VW gives about 42 mpg.  On the highway this does increase close to 50 mpg and even 60 mpg as shown in our photos.  The best speed is probably 65 mph for the best gas mileage.  However try to stick to this speed on a highway and it is nearly impossible.  During our extended driving tests, most highway drivers were traveling at 75 to 80 mph where this car gave a bit less than best gas mileage at around 47 mpg.  If you take an average of city and highway driving with stop and go commuting, you will get about 46 mpg. 

Behind the wheel, the Jetta is comfortable and sporty.  There is little body lean or sway.  The Jetta features an independent strut front suspension and a multilink independent rear suspension.  Because we prefer rear wheel drive cars, we did not like the feeling of the Jetta under full acceleration.  However because there is so little horsepower, there is very little feeling of torque steer.  Stopping power comes courtesy of the front and rear power assisted disc brakes.  The suspension is also comfortable and stable for a good feeling on bumpy roads.  This overall very good feeling behind the wheel is one of the top reasons to buy a VW in today's car market.  Even with 100 horses the Jetta can compete in the autobahn climbing past triple digits easily without any shaking or wind noise.  Road feel is very good and the steering is sharp and accurate. 

Talking about exterior style a bit, the TDI is large, smooth, and clean with nice features and good road presence.  The overall height of the cabin has grown giving a substantial stance.  The large chrome grille up front gives VW a family resemblance to Audi.  The curvaceous bumper is flanked by large headlights which are clear and have many design elements built inside of them.  Mirrors have built in turn signals under them and slight use of chrome around the windows ads a nice touch of glamour.  Door pulls are the grab handle variety for a higher end look and feel.  Good sized wheels with a grey color scheme give the Jetta a sporty character.  The Jetta looks solidly built and the smooth nature of all parts gives onlookers a great feeling.

At first sight the interior of the new Jetta is clean, modern and cozy.  The dashboard is tall, while flowing away from you, giving a more spacious feel.  Upper dash components and all interior plastic parts are covered in a smooth leather look material which was very nice.  Perhaps it was better looking due to the tan interior color, giving everything a softer look.  The optional leather seating surfaces make the Jetta look very luxurious, with folds to the inner seat cushions making everything look sumptuous.  We loved the soft and smooth leather covering the steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake handle.  A smooth leather covering on the steering wheel and shift knob as well as parking brake all greatly enhance the feel of the interior.  What did not add to this luxurious feel was the checkered plastic trim on the doors and passenger side of the dashboard, real wood is needed here. 

Door pulls are strong and feel good to the touch. Hard plastic parts are only around the stereo system making the need for a quick aftermarket upgrade to whatever you like quite easy, see for this.  What most non-believers need to know is that parts such as the knobs on the air vents, and the armrests are very solid, much more so than on cars from other brands. 

The instrument cluster is clean and glows a blue color at night with some red accents.  It is not as bright or colorful as that found in the GTI we just tested, proving that better parts were used in that vehicle.  A display screen shows if doors are open, which direction you are going in, the time, and what gear the vehicle is in.  The multi function display features a large trip computer in the central area, showing you just how much gas mileage you are getting instantly and on average.  A speed warning chime can be set so you actually know when you are going over your local town's 25 mph limit.  The car is so smooth and quiet that you will not notice low speeds at all.  Also items such as the brightness of the foot well lighting, automatic opening and closing of door locks, and whether you want both rearview mirrors to adjust in sync can all be set from the multifunction display and the steering wheel.

The stereo system works nicely and is easy to use with a high position on the center dash.  Buttons are where you expect them to be, almost intuitive.  The system offers satellite radio and a 6-disc CD changer built-in.  The standard speakers are loud enough and give good bass.  We truly liked the simple nature of the stereo; it was quite easy to use for old and young drivers.  The only problem we had was with the digital readout which was too basic for a car in the year 2006.  A large and bright screen would make choosing a satellite radio station easier.  You feel as if you are looking at a time watch from 1980.  A good feature is the station display over each memory button, something not found on other cars.

An automatic 'climatronic' climate control system is optional and included in our Package #2.  The system offers air filtration, which is great for allergy sufferers.  Heated seats are also featured for the front seats.  The dual zone climate system allows you to adjust each side's temperature quickly and the automatic setting worked quite well.  However we did not like the fact that it did not send air to the feet as well in the automatic setting.  Choosing both front and feet settings would send the system out of automatic temperature mode.  This should be fixed.  The dials for the system are also a bit cheap made of plastic that does not feel very good.  The dials on the stereo system were much nicer.  You do have rear cabin air vents for more comfort and quicker cooling in back. 

The steering wheel offers easy controls for the stereo as well as a mute button and a telephone button for a built in phone should you desire.  Controls around the steering wheel are all within easy reach and well thought-out.  If you can close your eyes and feel your way through the stalks and buttons then you know it was a well thought-out car

All windows are one-touch up and down, a really great feature to have that is often overlooked.  The sunroof is also of high quality with a dial to easily operate it in a one-touch manner in all directions.  Lacking is a latch to open the trunk at the trunk; we really would have liked a flipping VW logo as a latch.  The trunk is very large and deep, with a small space on the right hand side for a milk gallon and a hook that drops down from the roof to hold a bag in place. 

Other parts are designed nicely with dual cup holders in the center and large storage areas in the doors for bottles and magazine.  The front armrest can extend to fit just about anyone and raises up in levels for a great fit.  Rear seats easily flop down in a 60/40 fashion for larger trunk space.  The front passenger seat is height adjustable and has a small button for flipping the back of the seat down flat to make a long space all the way to the trunk for large pieces of wood or a pole.  The rear seats are comfortable but just a tad too straight.  If they offered more of a cradle position it would be nicer as thigh support is lacking a bit.  All seats have an armrest with a grab handle for speedy curvaceous driving.  Headrests fit very well in back and overall it is a comfortable and cozy feeling due to the high door trim.  You feel safe and comfortable in a luxurious setting.  The Jetta is very adjustable for fitting small and large people from seat belts, to seat height, steering wheel position and seat angle.  Also not found everywhere is the solid feeling of the doors closing, it just makes this car feel very good each time you enter and exit.  When you go for a test drive, look at the velvet lining on the door trim, the thick rubber insulation, the way the door opens in stages and stays open even on hills, and the clarity of the glass used.  These are just some of the better items you get when you buy a VW.

Driver and front passenger airbags and side thorax airbags as well as side curtain airbags are standard.  A rear side thorax airbag is available as an option on all models.  The Jetta also has a stronger body and is the first car to 'ace' the International Institute for Highway Safety side impact crash tests.  Other safety features include daytime running lights, side protection door beams and child safety rear door locks.

VW offers a 4 year or 50,000 mile warranty with a 5 year or 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.  Corrosion is covered for 12 years and unlimited mileage.  Roadside assistance is also offered for 4 years. 

Our TDI test car started off at a base price of $21,290.  The Campanella white exterior and Pure Beige interior suited the car well.  Package #2 was added which included the power sunroof, cold weather package with heated seats, leather seating surfaces, the leather multifunction steering wheel, a leather shift knob, dual zone automatic climate control called climatronic, a 12-way power drivers seat with 3-memory positions and Sirius satellite radio for $3,485.  The 5-speed DSG automatic tiptronic transmission adds $1,075.  This brought our total to $26,465 with a $615 destination charge.  On the window sticker EPA mileage is rated at 35 city and 42 highway.  This car has 8% of its parts coming from USA/Canada, 35% coming from Germany, and 35% coming from Mexico.  The final assembly point is Puebla, Mexico.  The engine is made in Poland and the transmission is made in Germany. 



Base Pricing 21,399 22,680
Destination 630 630
Package #2 w/Sirius 3,184 3,485
PNV   DVD Navigation System 1,589 1,800
Package #1 w/Sirius 1,462 1,600


  2006 Volkswagen Jetta
TDI 4dr Sedan (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6A)
2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
2006 Toyota Prius
4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
2006 Honda Civic
Hybrid 4dr Sedan (1.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
2006 Mazda MAZDA3
s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
MSRP $22,680 $25,900 $21,725 $22,150 $19,165
Invoice $21,399 $23,310 $20,006 $20,250 $17,935
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Rust 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Pounds smog-forming pollution per 15000 miles 43.7 - 58.8 5.3 - 6.3   12.3 - 12.9 5.3 - 6.3
Base Engine Type & Cylinders inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4
Base Engine Displacement 1.9 liters 2.4 liters 1.5 liters 1.3 liters 2.3 liters
Valvetrain 8 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
8 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 100 hp @ 4000 rpm 187 hp @ 6000 rpm 110 hp @ 5000 rpm 110 hp @ 6000 rpm 160 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 177 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm 138 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 82 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm 123 ft-lbs. @ 1000 rpm 150 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
Horsepower (Electric Motor)     67 hp @ 1200 rpm 20 hp @ 2000 rpm  
Torque (Electric Motor)   199 ft-lbs. @ 0 rpm 295 ft-lbs. @ 0 rpm 76 ft-lbs. @ 0 rpm  
Horsepower (Gas Motor)   147 hp @ 6000 rpm 76 hp @ 5000 rpm 93 hp @ 6000 rpm  
Torque (Gas Motor)   138 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 82 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm 89 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm  
Tires 205/55R16 H
all season
all season
all season
P195/65R15 S
all season
P205/50R17 V
all season
One-Touch Power Windows 4 1 1 1 1
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Traction Control Standard Standard Standard Not Available Not Available
Stability Control Standard Standard Optional Not Available Not Available
Remote CD Changer (# CDs) 6 - Optional Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Total Number of Speakers 10 8 6 6 6
Navigation System DVD navigation system - Optional DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional DVD navigation system - Optional Not Available DVD navigation system - Optional
Turning Circle 35.8 ft. 36.1 ft. 34.1 ft. 34.8 ft. 34.1 ft.
City 35 mpg. 40 mpg. 60 mpg. 49 mpg. 25 mpg.
Highway 42 mpg. 38 mpg. 51 mpg. 51 mpg. 32 mpg.
Length 179.3 in. 189.2 in. 175 in. 176.7 in. 178.7 in.
Width 70.1 in. 71.7 in. 67.9 in. 69 in. 69.1 in.
Height 57.4 in. 57.5 in. 58.1 in. 56.3 in. 57.7 in.
Weight 3241 lbs. 3680 lbs. 2890 lbs. 2875 lbs. 2762 lbs.
Wheel Base 101.5 in. 109.3 in. 106.3 in. 106.3 in. 103.9 in.
Ground Clearance 5.4 in. 5.9 in. 4.9 in.   5.7 in.
Interior Jetta Camry Hybrid Prius Civic MAZDA3
Front Headroom 38.5 in. 38.8 in. 39.1 in. 39.4 in. 39.1 in.
Rear Headroom 37.2 in. 37.8 in. 37.1 in. 37.4 in. 37.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room 54.8 in. 57.8 in. 55.3 in. 53.6 in. 54.9 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 53.1 in. 56.7 in. 53 in. 52.4 in. 54 in.
Front Leg Room 41.2 in. 41.6 in. 41.9 in. 42.2 in. 41.9 in.
Rear Leg Room 35.4 in. 38.3 in. 38.6 in. 34.6 in. 36.3 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 16 cu.ft. 10.6 cu.ft. 16.1 cu.ft. 10.4 cu.ft. 11.4 cu.ft.


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