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Some positive reviews. Cut/pasted for archiving.

"they run out of breath quickly in the higher-rev range." oh well, it's more fun to drive fast in a slow car than slow in a fast car.

Just over a year ago we took delivery of a conservatively equipped Jetta TDI for a long-term test. A far cry from a diesel sports car or even one of those rare diesel SUVs capable of towing a small city up a 30-percent grade, the TDI came armed with 140 bhp and raw resolve in an attempt to appease our lust for motoring entertainment. You might say it had its work cut out for it. Now, 45,000 miles later, the Jetta TDI is a car our staff can’t get enough of.

One of the downsides of some modern “clean” diesels being sold in the U.S. market today is the need to fill their NOX-reducing urea supply when it runs low. Some argue this is a non-issue since the refill is usually done during a vehicle’s regular scheduled maintenance. But say you’re a member of that infinitesimal group who doesn’t adhere to a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule exactly, and you run out of the stuff during a road trip? Well, these new cars are designed not to start in such cases, after a short grace period. With our Jetta’s small 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, there’s no need for a urea supply. Instead, VW burns off the NOX by periodically running a richer fuel mixture.

Not only did we not have to think about urea, but our TDI’s 10,000-mile scheduled maintenance and unwavering dependability meant we didn’t think much about anything at all. Under VW’s Carefree Maintenance program, all of our oil changes and regular checkups came free of charge, which is a beautiful experience for those who suffer from service-department anxiety. The first penny we spent (outside of our 400–500-mile diesel fill-ups at an average of $3.28 per gallon) was at 30,000 miles for a new set of rear brake pads costing a relatively painless $176 for parts and labor. Above 40,000 miles, just outside of the warranty coverage, we finally saw our first (and last) real hit to the bank account ($448) that involved changing out every air filter in the car.

Granted, we weren’t rolling on the sportiest of Michelin’s rubber, the tires were far from terrible and amazingly lasted the length of the test, despite the occasional flogging. The Jetta TDI doesn’t necessarily beg to be driven hard, but it doesn’t protest either. Its suspension is tuned to the softer side but is well-damped and the chassis feels tight when thrown into corners. With the 2.0-liter’s generous 236 lb.-ft. of torque, corners taken in the proper gear can deliver a nice sensation of exit thrust right before you hit the low power ceiling and need to grab another gear. The only other real dynamic weak spot we found was a soft brake pedal in panic braking. The pedal could actually be pushed all the way to the floor, with ABS fully invoked, perhaps due to caliper flex.

If you opt for the 6-speed manual over the twin-clutch DSG like we did, the frequent short shifts will be something you’ll have to get used to (compared to a gasoline-powered car), though we never really minded it. Otherwise, you could always take a page out of Managing Editor Andy Bornhop’s book and skip gears (taking full advantage of the available torque) to make for a wide-ratio 3-speed.

Regardless of driving methodology, the one thing that remains consistent with our TDI is fantastic fuel economy. Even with our least conservative drivers behind the wheel on relatively short trips, we were hard-pressed to get under 30 mpg. If you’re a proponent of saving fuel, we found it relatively easy to achieve more than 40 mpg, especially when adjusting our driving with respect to the onboard average fuel economy gauge.

With its combination of low maintenance, high fuel economy, commendable build quality and affordable price, the Jetta TDI makes for a delectable choice for daily transportation. It may not be the most exciting car we’ve driven to date, but there are few others we know of that can deliver such a high from so low in the rpm range.

“The Jetta TDI fulfilled its mission at R&T perfectly. We used the little sedan for everything from day-to-day driving, long hauls, and even aggressive driving during photo shoots, and the TDI delivered faultless performance every time it went out. Comfortable seats, non-complicated controls and fantastic mileage made the Jetta TDI easy to drive long distances. We never had any real problems, and save for a few dissenters, it has proved to most of the staff that joy can be found in low-rpm motoring."
—Calvin Kim, Assistant Road Test Editor

“The Jetta TDI is just about the perfect family car and it won’t break the bank when you buy one. Only two criticisms come to mind—first, the exterior styling is a bit anonymous and isn’t as well executed as the interior’s. Second, while diesels have plenty of punch and can cruise effortlessly at highway speeds, they run out of breath quickly in the higher-rev range. Overall, the Jetta is both practical and spirited, which is an unlikely combination in a world preoccupied with hybrids.”
—Matt DeLorenzo, Editor-in-Chief

“Diesels have come a long way since the Oldsmobuick V-8 oil burners of the late 1970s and early 1980s. And I grew to like the Jetta TDI for more than just its outstanding fuel economy and torque. It’s a refined compact sedan with excellent build quality, not to mention excellent driving manners and a huge trunk.”
—Andrew Bornhop, Managing Editor
Delivered price $23,090
Total resale value at end of test (trade-in price from Kelley Blue Book) $15,550
Total miles covered in test 45,088
Miles since last report 884
Average miles per gal. 35.7

Depreciation, 555 days $7540
Diesel fuel 1263 gal. @ $3742
Additional oil na
Routine maintenance $624
Overall cost for 45,088 miles $11,906
Cost per mile 26¢

Normal/routine: With the 3-year/36,000-mile Carefree Maintenance program, regular scheduled inspections and oil changes (every 10K miles) are free ($0). At 30K miles, we had the rear brake pads replaced and the rotors resurfaced ($176). At 40K miles, we paid for the oil service along with replacing both the engine and cabin air filters ($448).
Repairs: na
Unforeseen events: A low-speed parking lot incident required
replacement/repainting of the rear bumper cap ($1267).
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