In 2006, Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI was banned from sale in the U.S. because its 1.9 liter diesel engine did not meet federal emissions standards. Now, just a few years later, the Jetta TDI has been named Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal in California. A lot of hard work and German engineering has paid off for Volkswagen and for diesel lovers everywhere.
Volkswagen engineers have done a lot of reworking, leaving the 2009 Jetta TDI with an eco-friendly, turbocharged 2 liter clean diesel engine. What’s surprising is that the clean diesel upgrade seems to be a success on a number of fronts.
First of all, the clean diesel technology makes the smoke, smell and noise of the typical diesel engine are a thing of the past. Although some diesel drivers love a little rumble when they turn the key in the ignition, most people now favor of a quieter ride with a lot less pollution.
The price is nice, too. After the alternative-fuel rebate is applied, the Jetta TDI comes in at around $21,000 to $22,000 (base price). While this is a few thousand more than the gas-powered Jetta, owners will be able to make up the difference with the diesel TDI’s superior mileage per gallon.
While the official fuel economy rating for the diesel TDI is 30 mpg city / 41 highway, drivers report getting much better than that depending on their driving habits.
Some reports of 45 mpg and even a possible 50 mpg on the highway have been made, making this Jetta a fantastic value for new car owners in today’s market.
Yet another feature of the Jetta TDI that drivers love is the power. It’s not just quiet, it’s also fast, with 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The TDI can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is 2.2 seconds faster than the old 1.9 liter diesel. Handling too has improved significantly, with just a little lean on tight curves. Drivers report that the Jetta’s brakes feel nice and solid as opposed to the extra give experienced when driving many hybrids.
The interior is simple and has clean, functional lines. Although the Jetta TDI falls into the "compact" category, it is roomy and comfortable with enough head and leg room for adults in the front and back. The large trunk offers plenty of usable space.
As a hybrid alternative, the Jetta TDI will please many new car shoppers who are looking for great fuel economy. If your driving involves mostly low-speed, high traffic stopping and going, though, a hybrid will bring you better mileage. Diesels still can’t quite catch up to vehicles like the Prius when it comes to performance in urban high traffic areas.
One more variable is the price of diesel fuel, but the price per gallon is coming down again. According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, diesel averages less than 10 cents a gallon more than regular unleaded.
Of course, diesel Volkswagens have a track record of maintaining high resale values and this is expected to be true of the Jetta TDI as well, making it a doubly smart choice for diesel lovers.