Redesigned last year, the midsize Jetta now goes bigger and simpler. That means less luxury and extra features than one may expect from VW, but Jetta is all about savings nowadays- and starting at just under $17,000, it does just that. Take a look at what the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta has to offer and decide if it’s Das Auto for you. If so, check out Volkswagen Santa Monica.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Trims and Features
Look for Jetta in S, SE, SEL, and TDI trim levels, with performance-driven GLI trims rounding out the lineup. Jetta S, beginning at $16,495, is pretty basic: 4-cylinder engine, 15” steel wheels, cloth upholstery, and manual A/C, no cruise control, though you can opt for cruise control and a sunroof for about $1,000 more.
SE Jetta, at $18,495, gets you niceties like heated outer mirrors, 16” wheels, and 55 more horsepower. Volkswagen offers an SE Jetta with a Convenience Package which adds alloy wheels, a better sound system (including satellite radio), and leather trim surfaces with a multi-function steering wheel for audio control. SEL Jetta gets 17” allots, touchscreen navigation, and a Fender sound system.
TDI Jetta’s biggest improvement is with fuel economy- it’s a diesel engine, with similar features to the SE Convenience Jetta. Drivers can also opt for a TDI Navigation trim with the obvious addition.
Finally, GLI Jetta’s get a turbocharged engine, 18” alloys, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and an optional navigation package.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Performance
The front-wheel drive Jetta comes with a few engine choices: Go with the base Jetta S and it’s a 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder capable of 115 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is paired with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic (http://www.volkswagen.com/vwcms/master_public/virtualmaster/en2/experience/innovation/technical_glossary/tiptronic.popup.html).
Moving up to SE and SEL Jetta, drivers get a boost in the form of 2.5 liters and 170 horsepower with 177 lb.-ft. of torque; transmission choices remain the same as Jetta S.
Jetta TDI trims are equipped with a 2.0 liter, turbocharged inline-4, Clean Diesel engine that has 140 horsepower and an impressive 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Jetta TDI trims are paired with either a 6-speed manual or the 6-speed auto with Tiptronic.
Finally, Jetta GLI’s come with a 2.0 liter, turbocharged inline-4 which produces 200 horsepower with 207 lb.-ft. of torque; transmission choices are the same as Jetta TDI.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Fuel Economy
Jetta S models with the 2.0 4-cylinder get an EPA estimated 23/29/25 (city/highway/combined) MPG when paired with the automatic and 24/34/28 with manual transmission. 2.5 liter Jetta SE and SEL engines will get you 24/31/27 MPG with the auto and 23/33/26 for manuals. And this is where it really gets good- Jetta TDI models will get you 30/42/34 (diesel fuel) with either transmission, so have fun. Jetta GLI runs at 22/33/26 with recommended premium fuel.
Reviewers say that Jetta’s interior is a little too cheap and plastic, though it’s give and take because of VW’s price slash for their beloved nameplate. On the plus side, the current generation Jetta (2011-present) is Volkswagen’s biggest yet. That means good space inside, to the tune of 94.1 cubic feet of passenger space (with seating for 5), 38.1” worth of leg room for the 60/40 split folding rear seat, and 15.5 cubes of trunk space- earning a not bad nod for a car that’s classified as an EPA compact.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Safety
Every Jetta comes with antilock brakes with brake assist (provides extra application when warranted), stability control, 6 airbags, including front and rear side curtain bags, and an Intelligent Crash Response System that puts Jetta in safe-mode if needed. Governmental crash testing gives Jetta 4/5 stars for overall safety- 4/5 for both frontal impacts and rollovers, with 5/5 for side collisions. Additionally, the IIHS has made 2012 Jetta a Top Safety Pick.
Bottom Line: Jetta go or no go?
Reviews consistently rate 2012 Jetta at the middle of the pack, with much emphasis on the newer toned down feel. On the other hand, less stuff means less money spent. And then there’s the fuel savings you’ll rack up each week if you take the Jetta TDI; save on gas and buy a dashboard hula dancer if it feels too plain inside. Jetta may not accrue many style awards, but in terms of economy, it’s very pretty.