Compact car; Built in Mexico
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,300 – $3,400*


1996 Volkswagen Jetta GL


1996 Volkswagen Golf GL 4-door hatchback


1996 Volkswagen Jetta GL


1996 Volkswagen Golf GL interior


1994 Volkswagen Golf 4-cylinder engine

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Maneuverability
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Engine noise
  • Road noise

Our only reservation with these delightful subcompacts is Volkswagen reliability and high prices. Otherwise, they are an excellent choice that is a little out of the norm.

Overview

Redesigned Golf and Jetta models appeared in California first and then made their way to the rest of the country by 1994. All except the earliest production 1994 models came with standard dual airbags, replacing the door-mounted automatic front shoulder belts. The sole engine for 1993 and ’94 Golfs was a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Most Jettas got that engine too, but the top-line GLX model got a 172-horsepower V6. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on all Golfs and Jettas, and a new 4-speed electronic automatic was optional, except on the GTI.

Yearly Updates

1995 Golf/Jetta
Joining the Golf/Jetta family for 1995 is the hot new Golf GTI VR6, plus two other Golf models. The new GTI comes standard with the 172-horsepower 2.8-liter V6 engine, teamed with a standard 5-speed manual transmission. An electronic 4-speed automatic is optional. Also, all Golfs and Jettas get height-adjustable manual front seatbelts with emergency tensioners, side impact door beams that meet 1997 federal standards, and daytime running lights.
1996 Golf/Jetta
A dashboard-mounted glovebox, absent since it was displaced by a passenger-side airbag during the 1994 model year, returns on all models. Also, the seatbelts now have emergency locking retractors that eliminate the need for locking clips with child safety seats. In addition, a new dashboard switch for the central locking system can lock and unlock all doors and the trunk. Last year’s Golf Sport model has been renamed GTI, but is not to be confused with the GTI VR6, which also comes as a 2-door hatchback, but is powered by the 2.8-liter V6 rather than the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder.
1997 Golf/Jetta
Volkswagen’s economical diesel-powered Jetta TDI and new GT models made their U.S. debut. In May, two late-arriving specialty models were also released–the Golf Trek and Jetta Trek–both equipped to appeal to young “Gen-Xers” and others caught up in the mountain-bike craze. The TDI features VW’s 90-horsepower, 1.9-liter direct injection diesel, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The combo produces eye-popping fuel economy of 40 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway. The new Jetta GT includes many of the sporty touches of the top-line GLX, such as alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and fog lamps. The interesting new Trek models start out as GL models and add the following: roof-mounted bicycle rack, Trek mountain bicycle, special cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, sport instrument gauges, delay-off interior lights (Jetta), floormats, cargo net, roof-mounted whip antenna, dark-tinted taillight lenses, foglights, and alloy wheels.
1998 Golf/Jetta
Optional on both the Golf and Jetta are seat-mounted front side airbags. Also, the Golf GTI gets red interior trim accents, silver-faced gauges, and 7-spoke alloy wheels. VW continued selling this generation Golf/Jetta into 1999 until new models were ready.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The basic engine for Golf III and Jetta III models is an overhead-cam 2.0-liter engine that provides 115 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 122 pound-feet at 3200 rpm. The GTI VR6 and Jetta GLX use VW’s unique new 2.8-liter V6, which made its debut in the 1993 Passat GLX. It cranks out 172 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 173 pound-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on all Golfs and Jettas, with a new 4-speed electronic automatic an available option. Beginning in 1997, VW’s 90-horsepower, 1.9-liter direct injection turbodiesel, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission arrived to power the Golf/Jetta TDI models. The combo produces eye-popping fuel economy of 40 mpg in the city, 49 mpg on the highway.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 122
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/30
22/28
26.5
23.8
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.8/170
Engine HP 172
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 173
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
19/26
18/24
21.4
20.3
Turbodiesel ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.9/116
Engine HP 90
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 149
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual

40/49

Road Test

The 4-cylinder models have adequate acceleration from a standing start and lively passing power with either transmission. The 4-speed automatic downshifts promptly, providing adequate power for passing, but lacks smoothness. Naturally, acceleration is a bit friskier and fuel economy is better with the standard 5-speed manual. We averaged 23.8 mpg with the automatic and 26.5 mpg with the 5-speed. The GTI VR6 and GLX Jetta models with their 2.8-liter V6 deliver very impressive acceleration, but be prepared to pay extra.

Unlike their predecessors, the current models don’t suffer the constant thumping from the suspension and tires. Road noise is still prominent at highway speeds and the exhaust is too loud when cruising at 60-65 mph. Like the previous models, these third-generation Golf and Jetta models have sporty handling for family cars. The steering is firm, and the tires grip well when taking turns at high speeds.

The dashboard has a functional layout, with all controls mounted high for easy operation while driving. Since they ride on the same 97.4-inch wheelbase as the preceding models, interior space is about the same. All body styles have ample cargo space and the Jetta’s trunk is huge when compared to the car’s compact size.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Volkswagen Jetta GL

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 44

Specifications

2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.4 160.5 66.7 56.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
17.5 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.4 42.3 31.5
4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.4 160.5 66.7 56.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.9 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.3 42.3 31.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.4 173.4 66.7 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.0 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 37.4 42.3 31.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 GTI 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 173
Injury 118
Theft 321

Trouble Spots

Climate control
Description: If ventilation knobs become hard to operate or no air is being directed to the floor vents, it is possible the air distribution flaps have malfunctioned. (1994)
Engine stalling
Description: If the engine occasionally loses power, stalls, or stumbles, the problem may be vibration of the mass airflow sensor. (1994-95)
Hard starting
Description: Intermittent no-start or stalling condition is often due to the #3 relay. No trouble codes are stored in computer. (1993-96)
Poor drivability
Description: Magnetic interference can cause drivability problems if the shielding for the oxygen-sensor wiring is damaged. (1994)
Rough idle
Description: Backfires due to faulty plugs dislodge the idle control damper from the rear of the VR6 engine causing rough, or no idle. (1994-98)
Suspension noise
Description: A dull clunking noise from the front end may be due to too much free play in the upper MacPherson strut bearings. (1994-95)
Tire wear
Description: Cupping of the rear tires may be caused by too much positive rear toe, which is corrected by replacing the rear-axle stub shafts. (1993-96)
Water leak
Description: Leaks at the bulkhead should have been corrected during predelivery inspection. (1994)

Recall History

1994-95
Description: Jack could collapse during use.
1994-95
Description: Misrouted rear brake line could be damaged by chafing, which may result in leakage and diminished braking in one circuit.
1994-95 w/V6 engine
Description: Improper material was used in manufacturing radiator-fan motor shaft for VR6 engine, causing shaft to wear and become noisy; shaft could seize, rendering fan motor inoperative and eventually causing engine to overheat and stall.
1994-96
Description: Bolts securing front hood latch can loosen over time, causing disengagement of hood striker from latch and possible unexpected opening of hood.
1997-98 Jetta
Description: If the vehicle is driven with a rear flat tire, the fuel-tank filler neck can wear, causing a fuel leak and possible fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.