2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SedanPosted on August 8th, 2009
Clean, green and so much fun
By Nina Russin
Diesel technology has evolved significantly over the past two decades. The new generation of clean diesel cars are fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly, nimble performers. Last year, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI SportWagen won our ALV green car of the year award. This week, I had the chance to drive the wagon’s four-door sibling: the Jetta TDI sedan.
The secret to diesel performance is its low-end torque. The Jetta TDI develops peak torque of 236 foot-pounds at 1750 rpm: just above idle. As a result, the car can accelerate extremely hard from a stop.
Common-rail technology and on-board computer controls have eliminated the lag that plagued older diesel cars. Throttle response on the Jetta TDI is virtually indistinguishable from its gas-powered counterpart.
Diesels emit less carbon dioxide than gas cars: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas thought to be a major factor is global warming.
But here’s the best part: diesel cars yield between 25 and 30 percent better fuel economy than equivalent gasoline models. The fuel economy improvement is applicable to both city and highway driving. And unlike hybrids, the buyer doesn’t pay extra for the technology.
Powerful, yet fuel efficient
Power for the TDI Jetta comes from a 2-liter, 140-horsepower engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. EPA fuel economy estimates are 29/40 mpg city/highway. Fuel economy for my 150-mile test drive was 42.6 mpg on average. The route included an elevation gain and loss of about 4000 feet.
Base price for the diesel Jetta is $22,270, not including a $700 delivery charge. Buyers qualify for a $1300 Advanced Lean Burn Technology Motor Vehicle Federal Tax Credit.
The Jetta TDI is essentially a monospec car. The only two options on the test car are the dual-clutch automatic transmission ($1100), and a power sunroof ($1000).
Standard comfort and convenience features include leather seats, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio , leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and remote keyless entry.
The front-wheel drive Jetta comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires. Vented front and solid rear disc brakes with antilock braking give the driver good stopping power on a variety of road surfaces.
Loves to play in the mountains
I drove the Jetta north of Phoenix towards the mountain town of Payson. I wanted to see how the elevation change would impact the car’s power and fuel economy. The Beeline Highway east of Phoenix is known for its sweeping curves: a great road for evaluating steering and suspension.
The turbocharged engine has exceptional power. I did several acceleration tests from a dead stop; there is no noticeable turbo lag. The Jetta can easily pull away from most of the cars around it.
I have already mentioned my average fuel economy, which exceeded the EPA estimates. The sedan’s handling was equally impressive. An electro-mechanical steering system provides excellent feedback at highway speeds, with a positive on-center response. Despite its front-wheel drive configuration, I noticed little tendency to understeer in the turns.
The sedan’s low coefficient of drag (.31) contributes to its overall fuel economy, and lack of wind noise around the front of the car. A four-wheel fully independent suspension includes stabilizer bars on both axles to keep the chassis flat. While Phoenix doesn’t have road conditions that mimic four-season climates, I was impressed by the suspension’s performance on some of the older roads along the way.
Visibility is excellent all the way around the car, thanks to its tall greenhouse and narrow pillars. The side mirrors do a good job of compensating for blind spots in the rear corners.
The Jetta’s interior is bright and stylish, providing comfortable seating for four adults. A large floor tunnel makes the center rear position useless except for installing a child seat.
A tilt steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view of the road. Audio, Bluetooth and information controls on the wheel minimize driver distraction. The digital information screen in the gauge cluster displays audio settings, driving range, average fuel economy, odometer and trip meter, ambient temperature, a compass, and time of day.
A bin under the center console includes an auxiliary port, and is large enough to hold compact discs. The shift lever on the floor console includes a sport mode as well as the Tiptronic manual controls.
A nicely-designed center stack includes audio and temperature controls: all are within easy reach for the driver and front passenger. A large locking glovebox has a separate shelf for the owner’s manual.
The front doors have map pockets and bottle holders. There are two cupholders in the center console. An overhead console includes two reading lamps, a sunglass holder and the controls for the power sunroof.
Two adults will find plenty of leg, hip and headroom in back. A fold-down armrest has pop-out cupholders. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin. Rear passengers also have access to a 115-volt power outlet. A large overhead lamp has two bulbs to illuminate the second row at night.
Releases on the seatbacks fold them flat to extend the cargo floor. The sedan’s long, deep trunk can hold luggage, golf bags and long cargo using the pass-through. A small cubby on the right side of the trunk keeps smaller packages from slipping around. The Jetta’s spare tire and jack stow beneath the cargo floor.
The Jetta TDI comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. Volkswagen’s new car warranty includes three years of 24-hour roadside assistance. All scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles is free of charge.
The Volkswagen Jetta TDI sedan is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: Volkswagen’s turbo-diesel sedan combines outstanding power, performance and fuel economy. The sedan comes nicely equipped with safety and convenience features, and is affordably priced. Volkswagen’s free scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance during the warranty period add extra value.
Dislike: Lack of legroom in the center rear seating position.
Model: Jetta TDI Sedan
Base price: $22,270
As tested: $25,070
Horsepower: 140 Hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 236 ft.-lbs. @ 1750 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 29/40 mpg city/highway
3 responses to “2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sedan”
We have narrowed our search to his vehicle and one other. Our problem is that we can’t find a 2009 Jetta TDI anywhere in Arizona to purchase. Do you have any suggestions?
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I like a lot of information in your article. I am looking forward to your new posts, they will definitely benefit a lot of beginner like myself! many thanks!
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