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2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5 SEL Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Test Drives, Volkswagen

‘A Higher Level Without A Higher Price’

The newly redesigned Volkswagen Jetta takes a new direction not only for its revamped styling, but also in the area of value. The new 2011 VW Jetta attempts to overtake its competition by offering a starting price point just under $15K.

Not only is the new 2011 VW Jetta redesigned on the outside, but it has a new restyled interior with class-leading rear legroom at a total of 38.1 inches. The 2011 Jetta is poised to take the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic and come out on top in several areas. For starters, the new Jetta features a standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower and 125 foot-pounds of torque. Our top-of-the-line Jetta SEL features the trusted 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine that makes a good 170 horsepower and 177 foot-pounds of torque.

In order for Volkswagen to hit their low price point for the new Jetta they had to cheapen materials used which were most noticeable on the dashboard and seating. Volkswagens are well-known for several soft-touch accents and buttons demonstrating that you get a lot more than you paid. That feeling has somewhat vanished into the background, replaced with hard textured plastics for the dashboard and faux leather seating areas. Although Volkswagen attempts to pull off the cheapened materials in a stylistic fashion, it still screams ‘corners cut’ when you start to get all touchy-feely with the new Jetta. Don’t get me wrong, some people may be very well pleased or could care less with a hard plastic dashboard and seats that burn like vinyl in the summer heat.

To make things feel ‘quality’ our Jetta SEL test vehicle came equipped with a nice touch-screen navigation system with very simplistic operation. VW’s navigation systems even feature an intuitive zoom function that automatically zooms out when speed increases and then zooms back in when going below 40mph. The gauge cluster is clear and easy to read without a cheap feel also which seems to balance a consumer’s conception of being inside a ‘cheap’ car. Push-button start and intelligent key-less entry (allows you to keep your key in your pocket and utilize a touch-point on the door handle for locking and unlocking) is also a nice luxury touch that gives the Jetta more value over its competitors.

Drivability of the new 2011 Jetta is great with a comfortable ride as expected from any new VW. The 2011 Jetta sits on a 104.4 inch wheelbase, about 3 inches longer than the 2010 model, which greatly helps the ride characteristics. The steering feel is rather odd where the rack is surprisingly tight at lower speeds versus what we would expect to happen at highway speeds. Everything is just the opposite of what I have been accustomed to especially when the wheel has such a light feel above 45mph. This may be something VW could rework as they have opted for a new hydraulic rack and pinion setup over last year’s electric steering.

In the area of performance the new Jetta handles well and could be placed a notch higher than a Honda Civic sedan and Toyota Corolla. With 170 horsepower and 177 ft-lbs of torque, the Jetta can still perform well when it is packed full of 4 additional adult passengers. The 17-inch wheels and 225/45R tires do a great job keeping the Jetta inline when pushed to the limit of the stability control kicking in when performing hard turns or emergency maneuvers.

The new styling of the 2011 Jetta has a nice silhouette and steeply raked windshield pillars. The lower side extensions and front fascia’s aero-styled splitters all come together well. The integrated fog lights up to the headlight clusters with daytime running park lights all add to the Jetta’s unique character.

The Miles-Per-Gallon rating is impressive getting 24mpg city and 31 highway. We were actually able to get even better gas mileage during our highway travel averaging around 32.3 mpg. Power delivery from the 2.5-liter 5-cyl was always ready and eager to transmit its power through the 6-speed automatic. With VW offering a 6-speed auto in the new Jetta is a step in the right direction. Putting the 6-speed auto in S-Sport mode made the Jetta SEL an even better performer letting the car ride out a certain gear when decelerating anticipating spirited driving.

Bluetooth, navigation, 170 horsepower, 6-speed automatic transmission, push-start w/intelligent keyless entry, mid-sized-car interior proportions and great styling without going over $24K is always a good thing and that is what our 2011 Jetta SEL had to offer. Our test car came in around $23,000 while a new 2011 VW Jetta starts at just $14,995 for the base 2.0-liter model. Simply amazing and enticing! If you are in the market for a Corolla or Civic, make sure you do not pass the new 2011 VW Jetta.




  • Base Jetta $14,995
  • As-Tested Jetta 2.5 SEL $23,000 est.



  • Chrome grille

Tires and Wheels

  • Alloy wheels
  • 17 in. wheels
  • Steel spare wheel
  • 225/45R17 91W tires
  • All season tires
  • Inside mounted spare tire
  • Temporary spare tire

Roof and Glass

  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Rear defogger


  • Width: 70.0 in.
  • Height: 57.2 in.
  • Length: 182.2 in.
  • Wheel base: 104.4 in.
  • Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 15.5 cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 3018 lbs.

Engine & Performance

  • Engine size: 2.5 L
  • Cam type: Double overhead cam (DOHC)
  • Cylinders: inline 5
  • Valves: 20
  • Torque: 177 ft-lbs. @ 4250 rpm
  • Horsepower: 170 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Base engine type: gas


  • Drive type: front wheel drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual


  • MacPherson strut front suspension
  • Torsion beam rear suspension
  • Front independent suspension
  • Stabilizer bar stabilizer bar


  • Fuel type: gas
  • Fuel type: regular unleaded
  • Fuel tank capacity: 14.5 gal.
  • Range in miles (cty/hwy): 333.5/478.5 mi.
  • EPA mileage est. (cty/hwy): 23/33 mpg (manual)


Safety & Security

  • 4-wheel ABS
  • Front and rear head airbags
  • Dual front side-mounted airbags
  • Child seat anchors
  • Emergency braking assist
  • Front and rear solid disc brakes
  • Rear door child safety locks
  • Daytime running lights
  • Engine immobilizer
  • Front fog/driving lights
  • 2 front headrests
  • 3 rear headrests
  • Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation
  • Rear center 3-point belt
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners
  • Turn signal mirrors
  • Stability control
  • Traction control
  • Electronic brakeforce distribution
  • Emergency interior trunk release
  • Front height adjustable headrests
  • Rear height adjustable headrests
  • Post-collision safety system
  • Passenger head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Driver head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Tire pressure monitoring


  • Basic: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
  • Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60000 mi.
  • Free Maintenance: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
  • Roadside: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.


Front Seats

  • Front head room: 38.2 in.
  • Multi-level heating passenger seat
  • Multi-level heating driver seat
  • Driver seat with manual adjustable lumbar support
  • Height adjustable driver seat
  • Height adjustable passenger seat
  • Leatherette
  • Bucket front seats

Rear Seats

  • Rear head room: 37.1 in.
  • Rear leg room: 38.1 in.
  • Split-folding rear seatback
  • Folding with storage and pass-thru center armrest

Power Features

  • Remote power door locks
  • Power mirrors
  • Heated mirrors
  • 4 one-touch power windows


  • Cruise control
  • Front console with storage
  • Front and rear cupholders
  • Front door pockets
  • Overhead console with storage
  • Remote trunk release
  • Retained accessory power
  • Front seatback storage
  • Power steering
  • 12V front and 12V rear power outlet(s)
  • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
  • Audio controls on steering wheel


  • Interior air filtration
  • Air conditioning
  • Trunk light
  • Front and rear reading lights
  • Leather trim on shift knob
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Turn signal in mirrors
  • Dual illuminating vanity mirrors


  • Clock
  • Tachometer
  • Trip computer
  • External temperature display
  • Low fuel level warning
  • Compass

In Car Entertainment

  • Mast antenna
  • 6 total speakers
  • AM/FM in-dash 6 CD player stereo
  • Sirius satellite radio
  • Auxiliary audio input and iPod integration
  • 3 Months of provided satellite radio service
  • Memory card slot
  • USB connection


  • Hard drive based display w/voice activation and directions navigation system
  • Pre-wired for phone
  • Bluetooth wireless data link for hands-free phone

Interior Options

  • Jetta Luggage Net
  • Jetta Mat Kit
  • Jetta Carpeted Mat Kit

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