MPG-o-Matic Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen Review Summary: . The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen raises the bar among the most fuel-efficient cars, by virtue of its wonderful clean diesel engine, delivering a winning combination of performance, utility, and fuel economy, in a fun-to-drive package.
The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is the first small car in America to offer a highly-efficient and powerful clean diesel engine, and is available in both 4-door sedan and Sportwagen variants.
All 2009 Jetta TDIs are equipped with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged clean diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Jetta TDI’s common rail direct injected inline four produces 140 horsepower (HP) and 236 foot pounds of torque.
The official mileage estimates for the 2009 Jetta TDI are 30 city / 41 highway miles per gallon (MPG) for the manual transmission and 29 / 40 for the automatic.
We put over 550 miles on our six-speed automatic 2009 Jetta TDI Sportwagen review unit, and had no problem exceeding the official estimates, scoring an average of 46 MPG on the Interstate highway, with 35.6 MPG combined. Test period temperatures ranged from the thirties through the sixties, with freeway speeds between 60 and 72 miles per hour (MPH).
The Jetta TDI’s turbo diesel and six-speed DSG automatic performed superbly, providing a fuel efficient alternative to the less-than-thrilling performance of some hybrids. When you mash on the Jetta TDI’s accelerator, the car responds with a whoosh unlike a conventional gas engine or hybrid system, as the transmission runs through the gears. Drop the transmission into manual Tiptronic mode and it’s a blast to take charge.
The TDI’s multi function trip computer is controlled by steering wheel stalk and provides both average fuel economy and real-time MPG gauges in an easy to read orange LCD. The TDI is well-suited to light-footed driving and the real-time display is a big help in getting the lightest touch on the throttle.
The trip computer also provides a compass and radio station display, along with data on trip time, trip length, average trip speed, and miles to empty (which, with the TDI, can be quite considerable indeed).
We saw striking differences in fuel economy when driving with the cruise control on and off at highway speeds. We were able to crack the 50 MPG barrier on one highway circuit by driving with the cruise control off with a target speed of 60 miles per hour (in a range from 55-62 miles MPH). We’d expect mileage to increase once the diesel engine is broken in … our test unit was delivered with just over 1000 miles on the clock.
55-62 MPH, Cruise Off, (low sixties) – 51.6 MPG
60 MPH Cruise On – (low sixties) 46.9 MPG
68 MPH Cruise On – (high twenties) 41 MPG
60-72 MPH Cruise Off – (high twenties) 44.5 MPG
To get the best fuel economy from the Jetta TDI, upshift early (if you’re in sport mode), drive conscientiously with a light foot, lift off the throttle whenever practical, watch the real-time MPG gauge, and let inertia do its thing … the DSG automatic is your friend.
The cabin is comfortable and well designed for long road trips. Front bucket seats feature manual lumbar support and fully adjustable heating. The Sportwagen’s enormous optional panoramic sunroof gives the interior a wide-open feeling.
There are two 12-volt outlets – one in the center console and the other in the cargo area. A 115-volt power outlet is tucked into the back of the console providing easy access for rear seat passengers.
An auxiliary audio input jack is standard. iPod users may want to spring for the optional center console USB hookup. The optional satellite navigation package includes the USB port and provides a large touch screen for audio control. While we did not have the opportunity to test the iPod controls or nav system, due to a delivery glitch, we plan to fully test the system in the coming months.
All-in-all, we loved the Jetta TDI Sportwagen. This car delivers on the clean diesel promise, with a wonderful combination of performance, handling, comfort, and fuel economy. While our only nit to pick is the lack of OEM steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth, it is available as a dealer installed option.
– by Daniel Gray
February 19th, 2009
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