Used Car Review

2011 Volkswagen Jetta: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Lee Ronson May 2014

Volkswagen gave Americans a new-generation Jetta for 2011 that was reimagined for U.S. tastes and driving habits. The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta tossed the independent rear suspension, standard 4-wheel disc brakes, and more expensive-looking, padded interior materials of the previous car and replaced them with a larger, roomier sedan with a beam rear axle, rear drum brakes, and more hard plastic on the inside, all at a price that was more competitive with American-, Japanese- and Korean-brand entries in the compact segment. The 2011 Jetta was a big hit with buyers who saw a chance to get a fun-to-drive, roomy European sedan at an affordable price.

What We Like

Sporty European-like handling; rear-seat stretch-out space; fuel economy and generous torque of 2.0-liter diesel engine; solid structure; roomy trunk

What We Don't

Weak acceleration of base 2.0-liter gas engine; hard-plastic trim and low-cost look of interior; no USB port for device charging; plain exterior styling

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2011 VW Jetta has three available engines. The Jetta S comes with a 2.0-liter, single-overhead-camshaft 4-cylinder. Output is a very modest 115 horsepower, and it develops 125 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, and 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.

The Jetta SE and SEL are powered by a 2.5-liter, double-overhead-camshaft (DOHC), 20-valve 5-cylinder, which produces a generous 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. It, too, runs on regular unleaded and is EPA-rated at 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with the standard 5-speed manual, and 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.

Jetta TDI models get their grunt from a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder turbodiesel with 140 hp on tap, but an impressive 236 lb-ft of torque that reaches its peak early at just 1,750 rpm stays strong well into the engine's midrange for good response at all speeds and driving conditions. Best news is the diesel's EPA fuel economy rating: 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy with both the standard 6-speed manual transmission and the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2011 VW Jetta sedan is available in S, SE, SEL and TDI trim.

The base Jetta S sedan is stripped down to the basics to compete with low-cost Asian competitors. Typical equipment includes cloth upholstery, height-adjustable front seats, air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, a split folding rear seat, variable intermittent wipers, a rear defroster, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, 15-in steel wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a modestly powered 115-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission, and power windows, mirrors and door locks. A 6-speed automatic is optional.

The Jetta SE upgrades the engine to the 177-hp 2.5-liter 5-cylinder and adds standards such as cruise control, leatherette-covered seats, a security system, a lockable glove box, front and rear center armrests, front reading lamps and visor vanity mirrors and 16-inch wheels. The SE also adds a power moonroof, an upgraded 6-speaker stereo, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever to the options list.

The range-topper among gas-powered Jettas is the SEL. Standard fare includes fog lamps, a navigation system, steering-wheel audio controls, an upgraded audio system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, push-button starting, 17-in alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, a trip computer, heated front seats, an adjustable lumbar driver's seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, parking brake and shifter.

The Jetta TDI, of course, comes with Volkswagen's excellent 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine and includes all SE-level content, plus 4-wheel disc brakes, a power moonroof, a premium touchscreen audio system, heated seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, parking-brake lever and shifter. The standard Jetta TDI transmission is a 6-speed manual, with the option of a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

An optional Sport package available on the SEL adds a sport-tuned suspension, firmly bolstered front seats and aluminum-trimmed pedals.

Pricing

Even though their reliability has lagged somewhat behind products from Asian manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota, there will always be a portion of buyers who gravitate toward the generally superior fun-to-drive quality of European cars. Because a lot of Jettas were sold in 2011, many are coming back into the market as used cars, which tends to moderate pricing.

To obtain an understanding of the 2011 Jetta sedan's price range, check out the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2011 Jetta sedan:

On turbodiesel models, engine vibrations can cause fuel-line cracks, fuel leaks and a possible engine fire.

On some cars, the horn and anti-theft system use the same fuse. If the horn fuse blows, the engine could stall, causing headlamps and wipers to turn off and leading to a possible loss of vehicle control.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta sedan received a 4-star rating for frontal impacts and a 5-star rating for side impacts from NHTSA.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2011 Jetta sedan a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, and for head-restraint and seat crash performance.

Volkswagen covered the 2011 Jetta with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty. Additionally, routine maintenance and roadside assistance were covered for a 3-year/36,000-mile period.

Volkswagen certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be six years old or less. Every CPO Jetta undergoes a 112-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The VW CPO warranty covers the whole car bumper-to-bumper for two years or 24,000 miles and includes roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Chevrolet Cruze -- Like the Jetta, the Cruze's Opel roots give it a solid feel and fun-to-drive handling characteristics. The 1.4-liter turbo engine blends ample performance with good fuel economy. The Cruze isn't involved with GM's ignition-switch recall because it uses a newer, improved design.

2011 Toyota Corolla -- Toyota's evergreen Corolla is consistently near the top of the compact sales race due to its reputation for good fuel economy, trouble-free operation and good resale value. The Corolla driving experience is plain vanilla, but an XRS model offers a more powerful 158-hp 2.4-liter and grippier 17-in tires for a dash of sporty.

AutoTrader's Advice

Though the 2011 Jetta may lack some of the premium feel of pricier German sedans, the Jetta's bones provide a solid basis for a well-sorted, fun-to-drive compact car with personality. Stay away from the weak-kneed base 2.0-liter four, and go with the up-level inline 5-cylinder gas engine or the remarkably efficient (42 mpg hwy!) TDI turbodiesel. Look for a Volkswagen certified pre-owned car, when available. Also, check with the dealer to make sure that the Jetta you are considering has had any safety recall items resolved.

Find a used Jetta for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Used 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
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Used 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
Used 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta: Used Car Review - Autotrader