Compact car; Built in Mexico
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,200 – $23,200*

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Front

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Rear

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Interior

  • Control layout
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Quietness
  • Interior materials
  • Ride (SEL with Sport Package)
  • Steering feel

Volkswagen’s redesigned compact took some notable steps forward in the realms of passenger and cargo room, as well as powertrain refinement that exceeds the class norm. Unfortunately, Jetta also took a few steps backward with a ride/handling balance and quality of interior materials that fall short of the lofty standards we expect from a Volkswagen. The sporty GLI of 2012 addresses both of these concerns, but it commands a healthy price premium–new or used. On the other hand, continued availability of a thrifty diesel engine helps make this compact a more appealing entry. This is still a good all-around package with enough positive attributes that will appeal to those who are new to the brand. VW loyalists, on the other hand, may lament Jetta’s more mainstream attitude in this generation.


Redesigned for 2011, Volkswagen’s Jetta sedan got freshened styling along with larger exterior and interior dimensions. Volkswagen’s best-selling car returned as a four-door sedan. The Jetta SportWagen station wagon continued on sale, using the same basic design as the 2006-2010 Jetta; please see that report for a description and our evaluation of the SportWagen, though year-to-year changes (which were few) are listed below.

The 2011 Jetta sedan was more than 3.5 inches longer overall, with 2.6 inches more rear legroom than the 2006-2010 Jetta. Trim levels included S, SE, SEL, and diesel-powered TDI. Jetta S models held a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. SE and SEL models used a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder, which carried over from the previous-generation Jetta. The TDI had a 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on the S, SE, and SEL. A six-speed manual was standard on the TDI. Optional on the S, SE, and SEL was a six-speed automatic. The Jetta TDI could be equipped with a six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission that behaved much like an automatic. Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. Rear side airbags were no longer available. A Convenience Package for the SE included 16-inch alloy wheels, faux leather upholstery, satellite radio, wireless cell-phone link, and heated front seats. SEL models included keyless access/engine start, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a navigation system. A Sport Package for the SEL included a sport suspension, sport seats, and specific trim. The navigation system was optional on the TDI model. A sunroof was standard on the TDI and optional on the SEL and SE with Convenience Package. Jetta sedan competitors included the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra.

Yearly Updates

2012 Jetta
A sport-themed Jetta GLI sedan debuted for the 2012 model year. Fitted with a performance suspension, the GLI used a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mating with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automated-manual transmission. The uplevel GLI Autobahn had faux leather upholstery and heated front seats. Also for 2012, the Sport Package for the SEL was discontinued, while the SEL and TDI models now offered a Fender audio system. On the Jetta SportWagen station wagon, rear-side airbags were no longer available, and the manual transmission offered on the base S model switched from a five-speed to a six-speed.
2013 Jetta
The biggest news was the addition of a gas/electric hybrid model, which complemented the existing gasoline and diesel-powered models. It was offered in Base, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium versions. The Hybrid Base had more standard equipment than most other Jettas, including pushbutton start, HD Radio, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Hybrid SE included satellite radio and specific trim. Hybrid SEL added a navigation system, heated front seats, and a power driver seat. At the top of the Hybrid lineup was the SEL Premium, which had a rearview camera, Fender audio system, and bi-xenon headlights. There weren’t too many changes for the 2013 version of the GLI. All GLIs with VW’s “DSG” dual-clutch automated manual transmission added a Launch Control function. The driver could engage it when the car is at a stop, allowing the car to accelerate from a stop with controlled wheelspin. The top-of-the-line GLI Autobahn with Navigation added a rearview camera, bi-xenon headlamps, and LED daytime running lights. Jetta SportWagen saw no significant changes for 2013.
2014 Jetta
Jetta sedans were no longer available with the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine, and the base engine switched to a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. All sedans now came with a fully independent rear suspension. A rearview camera was now included on higher trim levels and Volkswagen’s Car-Net communications system/smartphone app became available. Late in the model year, a 30th Anniversary version of the sporty GLI sedan debuted. SportWagens were largely unchanged, but TDI models added a rearview camera.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Jettas have been offered with a choice of six engines: four gasoline, one diesel, and one gas/electric hybrid. Jetta S models used a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. SE and SEL models got a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder. TDI models held a 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on S, SE, and SEL models. A six-speed manual was standard on the TDI. Optional on the S, SE, and SEL was a six-speed automatic. A TDI could be equipped with a six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. The GLI used a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mating with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automated-manual transmission. The Hybrid paired a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a battery-powered electric motor for a combined 170 horsepower. The car could run on one or both of its power sources and did not require plug-in charging. Its sole transmission was a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. For the 2014 model year, SE and SEL sedans were no longer offered with the 2.5-liter engine, and in its place used a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 125
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
Turbodiesel dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automated manual
dohc I5
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/151
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
Turbocharged dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.4/85
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 184
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automated manual 42/48
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/110
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 184
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automated manual

Road Test

With the five-cylinder engine and either transmission, acceleration is decent. Passing and merging muscle are about what you would expect from a compact car: not great, but Jetta moves along well enough. Volkswagen quoted 0-60 mph acceleration in 8.2 seconds with the manual transmission and 8.5 seconds with the automatic. That automatic time feels about right, but the manual doesn’t feel any faster. Volkswagen’s manual gearbox has smooth shift and light clutch action. The automatic delivers smooth shifts, with quick reaction to throttle inputs. The GLI’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine suffers from some turbo lag at low engine speeds, but it comes alive as soon as boost arrives, providing very satisfying acceleration. As with the five-speed manual gearbox, the GLI’s six-speed has terrific clutch and shifter action. Hybrids are decent from a stop and accelerate with a fair degree of authority. The negative here is that the automatic transmission hesitates before downshifting for more passing power. Transitions when the electric motor kicks in and out are nearly imperceptible. Preview drives of Jetta sedans with the turbocharged 1.8-liter engine revealed excellent throttle response and lively acceleration. The only blemish of note was the 6-speed automatic transmission’s habit of upshifting into sixth gear too quickly, resulting in what felt like engine lugging at speeds around 45 mph.

Fuel economy scores well. In Consumer Guide testing, a manual-transmission five-cylinder Jetta averaged 27.0 mpg with slightly more highway driving than city use. An automatic test car averaged 23.6 mpg with slightly more city driving. Another automatic Jetta averaged 27.0 mpg in an even mix of city/highway use. A Hybrid SEL returned 38.6 mpg in mixed driving and 40.6 over a bit more than 300 highway miles. Not bad, but we hoped for better given the model’s EPA estimates of 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. No opportunity to measure the turbocharged 1.8-liter engine’s mileage. The 2.0-liter, 2.5-liter, and turbocharged 1.8-liter engines use regular-grade gas; Volkswagen recommends premium for the GLI, and requires it for the Hybrid. The TDI diesel is available in all 50 states; its exhaust filter does not require regular dealer maintenance.

With their standard 17-inch wheels, Jetta SEL models ride decently. Small bumps are heard more than felt, and the car is a comfortable highway cruiser. A GLI rides more stiffly on its sport suspension, but it’s never harsh and has a stable, planted feel..

The GLI shines in steering/handling and comes off as a true sports sedan, with responsive modes and little body lean in fast turns. Other Jettas, in contrast, are not particularly sporty, which is disappointing for a Volkswagen. Jettas are more than competent, however: composed through quick turns, with good steering feel and strong brakes.

Overall noise suppression is good for the class. The five-cylinder and Hybrid engines are surprisingly smooth and refined, as is the four-cylinder turbo. Wind noise is not an issue, and the tires only stir up a ruckus on coarse road surfaces.

Climate controls are very simple to operate and easy for the driver or passenger to access. Note that SEL models had a standard navigation system. It’s pretty simple to program, thanks to the combination of a touchscreen and BMW iDrive-style rotary knob. The system absorbs some audio controls, complicating what should be simple adjustments. Overall, non-GLI Jettas have a tasteful cabin, albeit one that’s not as high-end as we’ve come to expect from the Volkswagen brand. Much of the dashboard and interior is trimmed with nice-looking, though cheap-feeling, plastic. The metallic trim around the shift lever looks good, but the silver-painted plastic on the dashboard and doors is unconvincing. The GLI and Hybrid sedans got a padded dash and some unique trim, putting them a step up on their stablemates.

Front-seat headroom and legroom are very good, almost to the level of many midsize sedans. Seats are long-haul comfortable, but adjusting them is awkward. The sport seats included in the SEL’s Sport Package feel little different than the standard buckets. High-set seats contribute to fine all-around visibility. Unfortunately, Jetta’s center console does not adjust for height or reach, which can make for some uncomfortable elbows. GLI seats are more heavily bolstered, which slightly hinders entry/exit but helps hold front-seaters in place during fast cornering.

With 38.1 inches of rear legroom, Jetta boasts the most space in the compact-car class. Indeed, this Volkswagen sports more rear space and a more comfortable bench seat than many larger sedans.

A huge-for-the-class trunk and wide opening make loading easy. Folding rear seatbacks increase versatility, but they don’t rest flat. Note that the Hybrid has a smaller trunk than other Jetta sedans because a section of the trunk floor is raised about a foot to make room for the battery pack underneath. Interior storage consists of a fairly spacious glovebox, roomy door pockets, and a narrow-but-deep center console. Note that a console was not offered on the base S trim level.


Model Tested: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SEL with automatic

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.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 6

Total: 58


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.4 182.2 70 57.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.5 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 37.1 41.2 38.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: The passenger air bag may have a loose or unfastened connector causing the airbag warning lamp in the instrument panel to illuminate. (2011-2013)
Description: Moisture may cause the front door latches to freeze and prevent them from operating. (2012-14)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote key may stop working and, if temporarily removing the battery does not restore operation, the key must be replaced. (2011-12)
Description: The sunroof may quit working if the switch is pulled down and held for a few seconds or if the switch is held in the open position for too long requiring reiinitialization of the system. (2008-11)
Water leak
Description: A seam may not be completely sealed in the area around the hood hinges or behind the front fenders allowing water to leak into the front passenger compartment. (2014)
Electrical problem
Description: Some or all Bluetooth functions (buttons, steering wheel, voice recognition) may not work requiring the module to be recoded. (2011-12)
Check-engine light
Description: Certain 2012 and 2013 Jetta SportWagen TDI models may have a glow plug control module that sends incorrect readings to the vehicle’s engine control module which causes the check-engine light to illuminate. (2012-13)

Recall History

2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Certain vehicles made from March 2010 through March 2011 may have electrical wiring and fuse layout where converter box is protected by same fuse used by signal horn and anti-theft alarm; should that fuse blow, engine could stall, or headlight or wipers could turn off unexpectedly.
2011-12 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Certain accessory stainless-steel exhaust pipes may extend beyond original length of factory-installed pipes, possibly allowing inadvertent contact with a person’s leg.
2011-12 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
Description: On certain vehicles made through Sept. 2011, fuel-injection pulses could coincide with natural frequency of injector line #2, in specific load and rpm conditions, increasing stress on the line; that could result in small cracks developing, which could lead to fuel leakage.
2011-13 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Certain 2011, 2012 and 2013 model year Jettas may have rear trailing arms that could suddenly fail if they were deformed in a previous crash. The arm could suddenly fail, possibly causing loss of vehicle control. Dealers will install a sheet metal inlay on the trailing arms that are meant to prevent loss of control in the event of a sudden failure.
2011-14 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Debris may contaminate the air bag’s clock spring, a flat cable that maintains power to the air bag when the steering wheel is being turned. The contamination may cause the cable to tear, which prevents the air bag from deploying in a crash.
2013-14 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
Description: Certain Jetta Hybrids manufactured from October 2012 through October 2013 have gearbox fluid additives that can cause corrosion on the gearbox’s control module. This can lead to an electrical short and result in a sudden loss of power while driving.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Certain 2014 model year Jettas manufactured after March 28, 2014 are equipped with a fuel rail that has a cap that may fail and allow fuel to leak into the engine compartment.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta
Description: Certain 2014 model year Jettas equipped with the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission may develop a transmission fluid leak because of failed O-ring seals in the transmission oil cooler.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.

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