Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 VW Jetta TDI

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 Because the last refresh of the Jetta was met with underwhelming sales results, VW has been hard at work to reestablish the Jetta as an aspirational choice for buyers in the compact market. In an attempt to fight back for some of its former glory, the 2015 Jetta gets a slight refresh to give it a sleeker look, an upgraded cabin, and on the TDI trim, a more powerful, yet more fuel efficent diesel engine.

     The 2015 VW Jetta also boats a new suite of available electronic driver aids that include things like blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, and parking sensors. While they are only available on certain trims, and not exclusive to the compact car segment, they do give the Jetta some options that were only available on more expensive cars just a few short years ago. Other advantages of the Jetta are still intact, such as a cabin space that is tastefully designed, the option of both diesel and hybrid powertrains, and excellent crash test safety scores.

     There are a few trade-offs that you should keep in mind, however. The base 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine is rather weak, and should be avoided at all possible costs. You also might not be very fond of the sport-tuned suspension, that comes with a stiff ride.

     Gasoline powered versions are available in base, S, SE, Sport, and SEL trim levels, while the TDI versions come in S, SE, and SEL. The Jetta hybrid comes in SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trims, while the Jetta GLI comes in SE, and SEL trim levels.

     The base model 2015 VW Jetta, which is a trim that can only be ordered from the dealer, is fitted with the weak 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine, and the only option for a transmission is a 5-speed manual. Other standard equipment include such things like 15-inch steel wheels, power windows, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height adjustable front seats, cloth seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, and a 4-speaker sound system, with aux-input jack.

     The Jetta S adds power heated mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry, air conditioning, a single-cd radio with 4 inch screen and Bluetooth connectivity, a trip computer, a optional automatic transmission, power door locks, a front seat center armrest, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. An optional Technology Package includes a rear-view camera, keyless ignition and entry, and a 6-speaker sound system with a 6.5 inch touchscreen.

     The Jetta SE adds to the mix by coming standard with a 1.8 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, satellite radio, and an iPod adapter cable.

     A Connectivity Package on the SE requires that you order the automatic transmission, but it includes body colored outside mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, chrome exterior trim, special 16-inch alloy wheels, leatherette seating, rear-view camera, sunroof, driver seat lumbar adjustment, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and a rear seat armrest with trunk pass-through.

     When you select the SE with Connectivity Package, you also have the option of selecting the Navigation Package that includes automatic windshield wipers, fog-lights, and a 5-inch touchscreen radio with voice controlled navigation and keyless ignition and entry.

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 The Jetta Sport trim combines elements of the Connectivity and Navigation packages by including special 17-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, rear spoiler, a sport tuned suspension, heated windshield washer nozzles, upgraded 6-speaker radio with Navigation, rear-view camera, heated front seats with 2-tone leatherette seating surfaces, and special stitching for seats, steering wheel and other interior pieces.

     The SEL trim on the Jetta adds a soft touch surface dashboard, dual-zone auto a/c, 6-way power driver seat, and a 9-speaker Fender branded audio system.

     The Jetta TDI models in S, SE with connectivity, and SEL trims generally mirror the gasoline counterparts above, with the exception of a 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel engine.

     The Jetta Hybrid SE, and SEL trims are also pretty much the same. Added highlights of the Hybrid SEL Premium include 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, LED running lights, automatic wipers, a rear spoiler, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning. The Fender audio system is also included.

     The Jetta GLI SE comes with a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport tuned suspension, keyless ignition and entry, and essentially all of the standard Jetta SE with Connectivity package. The GLI SEL adds xenon headlamps, LED running lights, upgraded leatherette seating surfaces, a navigation system, the Fender audio system, and additional safety monitoring systems.

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     A Safety Package includes blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and rear parking sensors is available on the gas engine equipped Jetta SE with Connectivity and Navigation, as well as the Jetta SEL.

     A Lighting Package adds xenon headlamps, LED running lights, interior ambient lighting, and an upgraded instrument cluster is available on the Jetta models with a gas engine, as long as it isn't a Base, or S. For the diesel-powered Jetta SEL, the contents of the Lighting and Safety packages are combined into a single option package.

     The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Base and S trims come equipped with a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine that produces 115 horsepower, and 125 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 6-speed automatic transmission is optional. EPA numbers are 23/34/26 with the automatic transmission, and 25/34/28 with the manual transmission.

     The Jetta SE and SEL feature a substantially stronger 1.8 liter turbocharged 4 clyinder engine that produces 170 horsepower, and 184 lb-ft of torque. The SE gets the same transmission options as the lower trim levels, while the SE with Connectivity or Navigation comes with the automatic transmission only. EPA numbers are 25/37/30 with the auto transmission, while the manual clocks in at 25/37/29 mpg.

The Jetta TDI features a newly designed turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder diesel engine that makes 150 horsepower, up 10 from last year, and 236 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 6-speed DSG auto is optional.

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     Coupled with the DSG transmission, the TDI delivers EPA numbers of 31/45/36 mph, while the 6-speed manual comes in at 31/46/36 mpg. In performance testing the Jetta TDI with a manual transmission got up to 60 mph from a standing start in 8.1 seconds.

     The 2015 VW Jetta hybrid is powered by a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine that works side by side with a 20kw electric motor. Together they make 170 horsepower and 184 lb ft of torque that is routed to the front wheels via a 7-speed automated manual transmission.

     The 2015 Jetta GLI is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that sends 210 horsepower and 207 lb ft of torque to the front wheels. A 6-speed manual is standard, while the 6-speed DSG is optional.

The 2015 Jetta comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and active front head restraints. A rear-view camera is included on the SEL and TDI models. VW's CarNet telematics system, is standard on SE with Connectivity on up, and is VW's version of OnStar. A CarNet smartphone app lets owners control many of the functions of the system on the go.

     New available electronic safety systems on the Jetta inlcude blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning. In crash testing, the Jetta earned 5/5 stars for overall protection from the IIHS. In brake testing, the Jetta TDI came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, a little longer than average for this class of vehicle.

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     With the recent trend toward edgy shapes in technology focused interiors, the interior of the 2015 Jetta looks conservative by comparison. The Jetta's simple, functional gauges and dash could be judged either as a homage to the days when German design focused on the task of driving and little else, or as just behind the times. If you believe simplicity is best, then you are sure to have a good time behind the wheel of the Jetta.

     More impressive is the Jetta's trunk. With space coming in at 15.7 cubic feet, it has a larger trunk than some mid-size sedans.

     Unless you have plenty of time on your hands, I would recommend that you stay away from the Jetta that comes equipped with the 2.0 liter 4 cylinder non-turbocharged engine. For not much more money, you can move up to the SE trim that not only brings more standard goodies to the table, but you get the much more satisfying 1.8 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged engine. It gets better gas mileage, and you will be thankful every time you go to merge onto a highway.

     If you can afford the TDI, you will be rewarded with surprisingly strong power, in addition to the rather large fuel economy boost. The same can also be said for the Jetta Hybrid, but you will have to drive for awhile to see the payback.

     Although some versions of the Jetta offer a sport tuned suspension, there doesn't really seem to be to be much of an advantage over the base Jetta. Even the steering on the GLI isn't overly sharp when turning into corners, and the braking ability and overall cornering grip of the car are modest for a performance oriented vehicle. If you are just looking for a livelier Jetta sedan, than the GLI is a solid choice. The 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged engine delivers a solid whalop of power that you will feel around town and on fast moving highways. The engine has a great sound to it as well.

     No matter what trim level of Jetta that you pick, you are sure to find a solid road-trip companion, as ride comfort is pretty good, and the cabin is sealed off from the outside world.

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