2004 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan TDI (509)


This week I headed to the Pacific Northwest to test the 2004 Volkswagen Jetta. Why? Because I love that part of the world and this is the weekend for the cattlemen’s Bar B Q in Southern Oregon. It’s a time for fun and games and great Tri Tips to go along with the wonderful people.

Elections are coming up November 2, 2004 so there were down home politicians shaking hands and kissing babies in anticipation of re-election. We had a horseshoe tournament including Commissioners, Sheriffs and members of the House of Representatives and from the Senate. People who put their pants on the same way and have concerns just like the rest of us.   

The trip also gives me a chance to revisit the simple life of wide-open country and fewer folks to contend with both on and off the highways. In Los Angeles you get to test the brakes more and enjoy the ride less. I guess that’s why I live part of the time in L.A. – so I can appreciate the time I get to spend in Oregon.

Everyone is concerned with the rising prices of oil and thus prices at the pump, so this VW handles that concern with 43 mpg on the highway in a Turbo Diesel engine. That’s one way to fight dependence on Middle East oil.

Recently I co-wrote a feature on Clean Diesel in Europe and how much more economical that alternative is. It is more highly refined diesel and there are more diesels in Europe anyway.

General Info:

Parts – 40% Germany, 30% Mexico, Engine – Poland, Transmission – Japan

Assembly – Puebla, Mexico

Class:  – Compact

Cars:  – Golf, GTI, Jetta / Wagon, New Beetle, Passat / Wagon, Phaeton, R32 & Touareg.

Handling & Performance:

Really quite good. I drove from Portland to Medford Oregon in about 4.5 hours and I was never reminded that I had been sitting that long which I did complain about in the New Beetle on the same trek. I also didn’t notice a want for power even if you won’t break any land speed records.


I like the very popular look of Mercedes Benz and this VW mimics the look. And generally the design is very nice which is true of all of the new products from VW.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.


Also very good. This is a very well appointed sedan for the money.


Nothing special or unusual. It does have a good size trunk for a Compact rated car.

Consumer Recommendation:

Daughter Jen bought an Acura TL and except for the Navigation system it is not a good trade up from this Jetta. I wish she would listen to me at least when it comes to cars. A fatherly thing to do is to say, “Jen, buy the Jetta and save $16-20,000.

The Competition:

VW Jetta $17-24,000, Dodge Stratus $18-23,000, Acura TSX $26-28,000, Dodge Neon $13-20,000, Honda Civic $13-21,000, Hyundai Elantra $13-15,000, Saturn L300 Sedan $16-23,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $14-30,000, Ford Focus $13-18,000, Toyota Corolla $14-17,000, Nissan Altima $17-27,000, Chevrolet Cavalier $10-18,000, Pontiac Grand Am $22-24,000, Subaru Impreza $18-32,000.

Good News:

Little car price for a 5-seat sedan, great fuel economy, nice styling.

Bad News:

Troublesome seat adjustment

Standard Equipment:

1.9 liter 100 horsepower 4 cylinder engine, TDI – Turbo Diesel Injection / engine, 5-speed auto trans, front wheel drive, antilock power disc brakes, power steering, front and side air bags, child rear door locks, anchors and tethers, air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, tilt column, height adjustable front seats, split folding rear seat, power glass sunroof with tilt and slide, remote release for gas filler cap and trunk, Monsoon sound system with CD/ cassette player, anti theft system with immobilizer, trip computer. Options included 5-speed tiptronic, ESP Electronic Stabilization Program and cold weather package for heatable front seats and windshield washer nozzles.

Gas Stats:

32 City and 438 Highway MPG.


MSRP $22,710.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
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