The Volkswagen Jetta blends German-bred engineering and technology, good materials and build quality, and solid performance in a value-priced package. The Jetta S model comes well equipped, with a decent CD player and a host of safety features. Its 2.5-liter five-cylinder was bred for American tastes, with lots of low-rev torque, and makes for both a snappy runabout and a comfortable long-distance cruiser. The turbocharged Wolfsburg Edition attains Audi-like sports sedan status without the cost and the 2.0T lends real sport to the SportWagen. Diesel models deliver the driving precision of the Jetta with fuel economy near that of hybrids, and only one hybrid SUV comes close to the price, mileage and practicality of a TDI SportWagen. At the high end, a loaded-to-the-max Jetta can push through $30,000.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent G.R. Whale reported from Los Angeles, with Greg Brown reporting from Santa Fe, New Mexico.