Nearly a year after we introduced the 2011 VW Jetta TDI into AutoTrader's long-term garage, the car still looks great inside and out. Now, that might not sound like much of a story, but there's more to consider than just a year's worth of driving.

You see, our Jetta TDI has gone through at least 10 different drivers, but fewer than 10 car washes. Children with cheerios in hand, occasional coffee spills and months of being parked under sap-dripping trees have put the car's black paint and interior to the test. This particular writer has made a hobby of outdoor adventures and obstacle races, and last month, the Jetta found its way to a Tough Mudder (link) event a few hours outside of Atlanta.

Five clean team members piled into the car at 6:00 a.m., and that afternoon five battered, bruised and dirty members found their way back to the field where we left the car. Not only did the Jetta get covered in mud on the drive out to the event on rain-soaked dirt roads, but we really had the chance to give those ?leatherette? seats a run for their money.

Leatherette is a fancier way of saying ?vinyl,? which is a rubber material that's made to look and feel like leather. Many of our passengers have mistaken the material for real leather, but the ultimate advantage of leatherette comes in its durability and ease of maintenance. The mud and grime wiped out easily with a paper towel, leaving the seats no worse for the wear.

Now, as we approach 16,000 miles on the odometer, we can't help but admire how nicely the Jetta cleans up after a road trip. Black cars have a reputation for losing their luster with time, but this Jetta still looks mostly new. After a quick run through the carwash, there aren't any swirl marks on the clear coat, and the paint itself isn't chipped or dulled. Inside, the dash isn't scratched, and there are no creases on the seats.

We've thrown everything we could at the Jetta, and it still comes up looking good as new.

author photo

Davis Adams is a writer and content producer for the editorial team. Previously, he helped craft digital media for several automotive industry brands, including Consumer Reports, Toyota and Porsche. Davis feels at home on the track, and he owns a 2006 Lotus Elise that has seen its fair share of autocross courses.

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