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2011 Volkswagen Jetta Trims


Avg. Price: $13,279

The S trim represents the entry-level Volkswagen Jetta for 2011. This model year sees a redesign for the compact sedan in an attempt to compete with rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The new Jetta has met with mixed reviews, earning praise for its lower price, modernized exterior and a longer body with more room, but also receiving criticism for its elimination of several details that consistently gave the car its premium feeling.

The exterior of the Jetta has been transformed with a minimalist, sleeker appearance (admired by some and condemned as bland by others). Other than some chrome details and foglights, the exterior of the base S trim is virtually indistinguishable from higher-end Jetta trims. However, while the SE, SEL and TDI accommodate greater customization (primarily through options packages), the base remains an entry-level car with little possibility for tweaking.

The S trim brings back an engine used in the Jettas of yore—a 2.0-liter, 8-valve SOHC inline four-cylinder with 115 hp at 5,200 rpm and 125 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Using regular unleaded gasoline, the engine, paired with a standard five-speed manual transmission, produces fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg city/34 highway and a 0-60 time of 9.8 seconds, according to Volkswagen. An optional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and sport mode fares worse with fuel economy of 23/29 and a lethargic 0-60 time of 11 seconds.

Volkswagen has trimmed the Jetta’s pricetag considerably (the MSRP of the S is now $15,995) by taking the less expensive road in its materials. The S trim, for example, now has rear drum brakes (rather than all disc brakes), hydraulic—rather than electric—power steering, and a torsion beam rear suspension has replaced the more expensive front and rear independent suspension of previous generations. The interior has also taken a hit, with reviews quick to point out a distinct lack of the premium quality feel of previous interior materials, with harder, cheaper, and shinier plastics, less padding, and the elimination of details such as the carpeted parcel shelf (now hard plastic) and rear air conditioning vents.

Despite these changes, the base S trim still comes with a substantial list of standard features. Like all Jetta sedans, the S offers a standard 3-year or 36,000-mile “Carefree Maintenance Program,” which covers the cost of scheduled maintenance provided at an authorized dealer. Outside, the base provides 15-inch steel wheels and power heated side mirrors. Inside, the standard stereo is a 4-speaker system with MP3- and WMA-compatible in-dash CD player and AM/FM radio (alas, no options for sound system upgrades). Two 12-volt power outlets (one in the front and one in the rear) are standard, as are two remote-control key fobs for the power locks. The S trim also provides standard power windows, air conditioning with a pollen filter and a standard Immobilizer III theft deterrent system. A newly designed three-spoke steering wheel adjusts telescopically for driver comfort. The seats are cloth covered at this trim level, with 6-way manual adjustment for the front seats and a 60/40 split in the rear bench, adding to the class-leading 15.5 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. The 2011 redesign elongated the body of the Jetta by approximately 3 inches, primarily benefiting the rear seat space, and rear legroom now approaches that of the midsize autos.

Safety features in the S trim match those in the other Jetta trim levels, including Intelligent Crash Response (which unlocks the doors, shuts off the fuel supply and activates the hazard lights when the airbags are deployed). Six standard airbags, tire pressure monitoring, antilock brakes with hydraulic brake assist, electronic differential lock, and stability control round out the list of standard features in even the base trim.


Avg. Price: $14,590

The mid-range trim for the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta goes under the SE badge this year. The compact sedan has undergone a transformation for 2011, revising the exterior of the car with a more contemporary look (considered sleek by some, dull by others), and elongating the body by approximately 3 inches, to the benefit of rear passengers. Volkswagen has lowered the price on the Jetta, as well, while maintaining excellent cargo space and a ride still considered solid and quiet by most reviews. However, the revisions to the 2011 Jetta have also eliminated a number of the features that made the car feel unique. Some of the small details have vanished—gas struts to hold open the hood, a carpeted parcel shelf in the rear, an adjustable front center armrest and rear air conditioning vents, among others. Reviewers have also raised eyebrows over the cheaper feel of the interior materials, with hard, hollow-sounding, shiny plastic on the dash and door. Rear drum brakes replace former all-disc brakes, a torsion-beam rear suspension replaces the former front and rear independent suspension and hydraulic power steering replaces electric. For those new to the Volkswagen ride, these may not be deal-breaking details. For devotees, however, the loss of these elite-feeling premium touches may cause some to consider other compact sedans.

The SE carries forward last year’s engine: a 2.5-liter, 20-valve, inline DOHC five-cylinder paired with a standard five-speed manual transmission. The engine produces 170 hp at 5,700 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm, and uses regular unleaded gasoline, with fuel economy estimates of 23 mpg city/33 highway and a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds. An optional six-speed automatic transmission (with Tiptronic and sport mode) has almost identical fuel consumption and performance numbers: 23/31 and a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds.

The SE provides all the standard features of the S trim with a few enhancements. A 4-speaker sound system with MP3- and WMA-compatible in-dash CD player matches the system found in the base trim, as do two 12-volt power outlets, power windows and power locks, which come with two remote transmitter key fobs. Air conditioning with a pollen filter as well as an Immobilizer III theft deterrent system also mirror standard features found in the base trim. However, the SE’s wheels are slightly larger—16-inch steel wheels—and the heated power side mirrors now integrate turn signals and match the body color. Inside, the SE adds standard front reading lights, illuminated front visor mirrors, front seatback pockets and a lighted, lockable glovebox.

Other upgrades in the SE include a front center armrest with storage (although it is not the earlier, much beloved adjustable version) and standard cruise control. Seating for five is now covered with V-Tex leatherette (rather than cloth), and the material has been praised by owners for its breathability and easy clean-up. The front seats are 6-way manually adjustable, and the newly designed three-spoke steering wheel can adjust its height with a telescoping steering column. The rear seat benefits from the 2011 Jetta redesign, with the additional length creating legroom close to that of a midsize sedan. Like the S trim, the rear seat of the SE folds 60/40 for additional storage (supplementing its segment-leading 15.5 cubic feet of storage in the trunk), but the SE now adds a center armrest with integrated cup holders in the back and a pass-through to the trunk.

Safety features in the SE match those found in all Jetta sedan trims this year. Antilock brakes, hydraulic brake assist and engine braking assist—as well as electronic brake-pressure distribution, stability control, and anti-slip regulation—help to maintain traction and braking effectiveness in emergencies and uneven or treacherous road conditions. Other standard safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system, six airbags and an Intelligent Crash Response System, which unlocks the doors, turns on the hazard lights, and cuts off the fuel supply if the airbags are deployed.

The SE distinguishes itself even further from the base S trim, however, with two available options packages. The SE with the Convenience Package provides 16-inch alloy wheels in lieu of steel. A leather-wrapped steering wheel includes controls for Bluetooth and audio (now an upgraded 6-speaker system with MDI and an iPod cable in the glovebox). In addition, SIRIUS Satellite radio with a 3-month trial subscription can be enjoyed in heated front seats. The SE with Convenience and Sunroof package supplies the features of the Convenience package, but upgrades the stereo to a 6-speaker touchscreen Premium VII system with a 6-CD in-dash changer, as well as adding an SD memory card reader and a power tilt-and-slide tinted sunroof.


Avg. Price: $15,057

SE PZEV w/ Conv

Avg. Price: $15,365

SE PZEV w/ Conv and Sunroof

Avg. Price: $16,558

SE w/ Conv

Avg. Price: $15,425

SE w/ Conv and Sunroof

1 national listing
Avg. Price: $16,599


Avg. Price: $16,557

The 2011 Jetta has been redesigned this year. In an effort to increase its competitiveness with compact sedan rivals such as the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic, Volkswagen has decreased the sticker price of the Jetta and elongated the body, providing more than 3 feet of legroom in the rear. This year’s Jetta arrives in three unleaded gasoline trims—the base S, the mid-range SE, and the high-end SEL—and a diesel-powered TDI. While the SEL uses the same engine as the SE, it offers additional standard features, as well as a Sport option package.

Outside, the SEL is distinguished by its chrome grille and window trim, SEL badging, and foglights inserted into the front bumper. Heated, body-colored side mirrors integrate turn signals (similar to the SE), but the SEL offers the largest standard wheels: 17-inch Joda alloy. The SEL also provides standard, heated windshield washer nozzles to prevent freezing. Volkswagen has also revamped the exterior look of the Jetta with an emphasis on the horizontal. While some find the new look stylish and modern, others feel that the Jetta now looks simply like any generic sedan.

Inside, the SEL trim is nicely equipped, with manual air conditioning with a pollen filter, an Immobilizer III theft deterrent system, front armrest with storage (although not the adjustable armrest found in previous generations) and standard cruise control. In addition to standard dash display items (temperature, speedometer, tachometer, odometer, clock, etc.) the SEL adds a standard multi-function trip computer. While all of the Jetta trims provide power windows and power locks with two remote key fobs, the SEL is the only trim level to provide standard keyless entry with push-button start. Like the SE, the SEL offers dual front reading lights and two illuminated visor vanity mirrors. The SEL distinguishes itself, however, from lower trim levels with standard technology: a 6-speaker touchscreen Premium VIII sound system, Bluetooth, MDI with iPod cable in the glovebox, and standard SIRIUS Satellite Radio with a 3-month trial subscription. An RNS 315 navigation system with a 5-inch touchscreen and SD memory card reader is also standard at this trim level. The system, while easy to use, lacks some of the standard features expected in most navigation packages (e.g., it fails to incorporate external data, such as weather or traffic, as well as failing to read out street names) and some find that the 5-inch screen is too small. The leather-wrapped newly designed steering wheel integrates Bluetooth and audio controls.

Unlike other trims, the SEL uses a metallic-looking chrome interior trim. Unfortunately, the trim is now silver-painted plastic, and most reviews agree that it contributes to the overall cheaper look and feel of the interior. The plastic is harder and shinier, and there is less padding on the hard surfaces.

Seating for five in the SEL is covered with V-Tex leatherette, rather than the cloth of the base S trim. V-Tex has earned praise from owners for its easy clean-up. The SEL provides 6-way adjustable front seats which, at this trim level, provide standard heat and adjustable lumbar support for the driver. Rear seats fold in a 60/40 split with a center rear armrest that integrates cupholders and a central pass-through to the spacious trunk (15.5 cubic feet of cargo room).

The SEL comes with a standard five-speed manual transmission and a 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder DOHC engine with 170 hp at 5,700 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm, and fuel economy of 23 mpg city/33 highway and a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds. An optional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport modes delivers similar numbers, with 24 mpg city/31 highway and a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds. Although reviews seem to see the SEL’s engine as providing a solid ride, several noted a brief pause in the throttle after initial acceleration from a stop.

This year’s SEL, as with other trims, has converted the vehicle’s suspension from front and rear independent to a rear torsion beam system (one of the cost-saving measures). Although reviews do not seem to miss the independent suspension, it was noted that small bumps were easily felt, particularly with the optional and stiffer sport suspension. Steering is now hydraulic power assisted, rather than the previous generation’s electronic power steering, and this does seem to be a weak area for the new Jetta, with reviews noting numb and unresponsive steering. The antilock brakes at this trim level are all disc (lower-priced trims come with rear drum brakes), with brake assist, electronic differential lock, electronic brake-pressure distribution, anti-slip and electronic stability control, to enhance the Jetta’s braking effectiveness, traction and control during hazardous conditions.

The standard safety features of the SEL match those found in the other trims, including six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, and the Intelligent Crash Response system to activate the hazard lights, cut off the fuel supply and release the power locks when the airbags are deployed.

The SEL is available with two optional packages. The first offers a tilt/slide tinted sunroof. The second, a Sport Package, includes the sunroof but adds a sport suspension (giving a firmer ride), sport bolsters in the seats for additional support on the corners and aluminum-look sport pedals and door sills.


Avg. Price: $16,820


Avg. Price: $17,766

SEL PZEV w/ Sunroof

SEL Sport

1 national listing
Avg. Price: $17,771

SEL w/ Sunroof


Avg. Price: $17,763

Although the 2011 Jetta TDI carries the heftiest sticker price of the available trims this year, its diesel engine also offers the greatest fuel efficiency, as well as many of the standard features found in the high-end SEL trim (powered by a regular unleaded gasoline engine).

The TDI provides a 2.0-liter, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine which, according to Volkswagen, runs 90% cleaner than diesels of old, and offers better fuel economy estimates than the regular unleaded Jetta engines: 30 mpg city/42 highway. With 140 hp at 4,000 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm, the diesel doesn’t skimp on power, either. Paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission, the TDI also offers an optional six-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and sport mode. Similar to the high-end SEL trim, the TDI has hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, adjustable with both tilt and telescoping features, and provides multi-function control of the audio and standard Bluetooth. Rather than the rear drum brakes found in the S and SE trims, the TDI provides antilock all-wheel disc brakes but, like the other Jetta trims this year, has switched from front and rear independent suspension to a rear twist-beam suspension system paired with MacPherson front independent suspension.

Outside, the TDI resembles the SE trim with the Convenience and Sunroof packages. The sedan provides standard heated, power side mirrors with integrated turn signals, heated windshield washer nozzles, a standard power tinted tilt/slide sunroof and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, the TDI comes with standard cruise control and manual air conditioning with a pollen filter. Power windows are operable from all four windows, and the power locks come with two remote-control key fobs. In addition to the standard dashboard features, the TDI trim provides a multifunction trip computer with data about trip time and length, average trip speed, fuel consumption and the number of miles before empty. V-Tex leatherette covers the seats in the TDI, with 6-way manual adjustment of the front seats and a 60/40 split rear seat, as well as a standard rear center armrest with cupholders and pass-through to the spacious 15.5 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. The 6-speaker touchscreen Premium VIII sound system has MP3- and WMA-compatibility, and a 6-CD, in-dash player, SD memory card reader, and MDI with an iPod cable in the glovebox. SIRIUS Satellite radio is also provided with a trial 3-month subscription.

Safety features in the TDI match those in the other 2011 Jetta trims, including an Immobilizer III theft-deterrent system. The antilock brakes are supplemented by electronic brake-pressure distribution and hydraulic brake assist, and traction and stability are supported by electronic stability control, anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock and engine brake assist. Six airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, and an Intelligent Crash Response System (to shut off the fuel supply, unlock the doors and turn on the hazard lights in the event of airbag deployment) round out the additional safety features.

The 2011 Jetta TDI also offers an available Navigation package. This package brings the TDI in line with the high-end SEL trim, adding foglights to the front bumper, and chrome grille and window trim to the exterior. Inside, the package adds adjustable lumbar support to the driver’s seat and push-button start to the keyless access. An RNS 315 navigation package, with SD memory card reader and a 5-inch color touchscreen, offers basic navigation information, but has been criticized by reviews for failing to offer some basic features (such as external traffic and weather information) as well as its small screen size.

TDI w/ Nav