I recently returned to my desk to find a familiar set of keys awaiting me. It was time to spend some more time with my former road trip companion, our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. If you recall, earlier this year I took this car with me on a 680 mile trek from Atlanta, GA to my hometown in Maryland, and then back again. I came away from that trip quite impressed with the little car our office has affectionately named Olga.
For this go-round, I would be experiencing the Jetta on my home turf, the city streets of downtown Atlanta. Like many other city dwellers, I enjoy the convenience of having almost anything I could want within a few short miles. My regular routine consists of multiple short trips and a plenty of getting into and out of my car. This would be the exact opposite of my road trip review when my goal was to get to my destination in the shortest amount of time, with the fewest stops possible.
Our Jetta TDI is equipped with the optional DSG Automatic Transmission. On the highway, this setup functioned seamlessly and was quite impressive, downshifting quickly for merging and passing. In the city, the characteristics of this transmission became more obvious. During slow driving, the DSG is quick to upshift and at times seems reluctant to shift down unless forced. When coming to a stop, the transmission has a tendency to "clunk" back into first gear, a feeling that may make some drivers uneasy.
Although it's been driven over 8,000 miles since my last encounter, the interior is just as I remember, with no excessive signs of wear to be seen. The seats were just as comfortable as I remembered, although multiple passengers did wish for more adjustability to their side.
I wish I could say the electronics held up as well as the interior. Although my phone was easily reconnected through Bluetooth, the voice commands did not seem to work as well. On one occasion, I actually dialed an old co-worker while trying to access my music. Our 2011 Volkswagen Jetta also has the optional iPod connection, which has an odd character flaw. Sometimes multiple tries were needed to actually have the connection work properly. This grew increasingly annoying, as I would take my phone with me every time I would stop and have to go through the same procedure whenever I re-entered the car. Once connected however, the sound was just as clear and crisp as I had remembered it.
Once again, gas mileage was impressive. Mostly consisting of stop-and-go traffic with plenty of short trips, the little Jetta still managed over 30 mpg.
After two surprisingly enjoyable long distance road trips the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI has developed some quirks, but still performs rather well. The overall quality has been retained, aside from some electronic glitches. If your main concerns are reliability and fuel mileage, a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI might just be the vehicle you are looking for.