2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Best car for $25,000?

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The Jetta is the best selling Volkswagen and the main reason is its versatility. It’s available in about 40 configurations and trims, including the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

It’s the diesel edition of the mid-size sedan. It features a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder matched with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission and 140 horsepower.

The Weekly Driver’s Test Drive

In the 10 years I’ve written The Weekly Driver coumn, I’ve driven the Volkswagen Jetta TDI several times and each time I’ve been perplexed. Why isn’t this version of the Jetta more popular?

Is the stigma against diesel engines strictly based a now former curse? (Remember the Mercedes-Benz diesel sedans in the 1970s? They were loud and spewed a lot of dark exhaust into the environment.)

The Jetta TDI and other current diesel offerings, BMW for example, are not related to the diesels of yesteryear, other than their diesel engines. New diesel engines burn cleaner. They’re more efficient, and they’re quiet.2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Diesels cars are the rule not the exception in Europe, and diesel fuel is far less expensive in Europe than it is in the United States. For U.S buyers, of course, diesel fuel is still slightly inconvenient since it’s not available at every service station.

But the Volkswagen Jetta TDI is rated at 34 mpg in city driving and 42 mpg on the freeway. For me, that’s enough incentive to warrant a long second look.

Volkswagen doesn’t go to any lengths to promote the TDI as a diesel. The small initials on then right side of the trunk are the only designation. But Volkswagen does make the car enticing with a strong collection of standard features.

My weekly test drive with the Jetta TDI included a 200-mile round-trip from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, and it’s all freeway miles. There’s altitude and winding mountain roads.

The Jetta never flinched. It accelerated around slow traffic with east on mountain passing lanes.

The Jetta TDI is surprisingly well equipped. Standard features included: A six-speaker sound system, heated and leather-covered front seats, air conditioning, cruise control, adjustable steering wheel, adjustable front center armrest and power windows, heated power mirrors with turn signals and locks with a remote locking system.

Standard safety features included: front air bags, front and rear side-curtain head protection air bags, electronic stability control, electronic differential lock and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is also a retro vehicle — of sorts. It has plenty of modern technology, but its systems are straightforward and intuitive. It’s a complement to the rest of the vehicle.

The exterior is handsome without flair. The interior has leather seats and modern comfort and convenience — Bluetooth capability to leather seats to power heat exterior mirrors. But nothing on the vehicle begs the question, “What is that and how does it work?” I

And isn’t that refreshing?

Likes:

Forget the former “pinging” diesel engines. The Jetta TDI is quiet.

Steady acceleration, no hesitation.

Spacious front and back seat room for segment.

Simple, straightforward dials and gauges.

Superior gas mileage.

Cavernous trunk.

Dislikes:

Slight B pillar blindspot.

Stereo system only adequate.

Facts & Figures: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, unavailable.
Airbags: 6. Fuel economy: 30 mpg (city), 42 mpg (highway), 34 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA, Overall, 5 out of 5 stars; Frontal crash, Driver, 4 stars; Passenger, 4 stars; Side crash, front seat, 5 stars; Rear seat, 5 stars; Rollover, 4 stars.
Horsepower: 140.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $24,725.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.vw.com.
Price As tested: $25,545.00.
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“The 2014 VW Jetta TDI’s 2.0-liter turbo diesel is a fantastic engine with great torque and reliable efficiency.” — CNET.com.

“In addition to the intangible nature of its European roots, the Jetta offers impressive features for the money and a roomy interior.” — kbb.com.

“What makes VWs special is their buttoned-down seriousness. The interior is basic, but comfortable and supportive on long drives.” — indystar.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Great gas mileage, quiet ride, diesel fuel, plenty of space, top safety ratings and great price point. Is there a better car available in the United States for $25,000?”

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