Consumer Reports hammers the U.S.-market VW Jetta

2011 Volkswagen Jetta official first photos, 1600, 15.06.2010
2011 Volkswagen Jetta official first photos, 1600, 15.06.2010

Premiere U.S. consumer magazine calls the new Jetta 'a shadow of the agile, well-finished car it once was.'

Top-notch consumer magazine Consumer Reports has given a very negative review to the 2011 North American VW Jetta.

"The new Jetta is unimpressive. In an effort to bring the car's starting price down, VW cheapened the previous Jetta's interior and suspension, making it less sophisticated and compromising handling."

That's from David Champion who serves as senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in Connecticut.

The release from Consumer Reports goes on to call the 2.5 liter, 5-cylinder engine "coarse-sounding" and says that the "redesigned Volkswagen Jetta is a shadow of the agile, well-finished car it once was...handling agility and cornering grip now fall short, as does the finish inside the formerly impeccable interior."

As VW has tried to bring down the starting price on the Jetta, which now begins at $15,995, $1,740 less than the previous generation, it has decontented the car in a way that has left consumers weary. For example, on the standard U.S.-market model the rear suspension is a single torsion beam, whereas on the European-spec Jetta, it comes with a 4-link set-up.

Consumer Reports offers the most detailed and comprehensive testing of any organization for models sold in the United States. It is an independent magazine which conducts long-term, extensive testing of vehicle quality and reliability.

Source: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports: New Volkswagen Jetta Disappoints

New Chevrolet Cruze is marked improvement over the Cobalt

YONKERS, N.Y., April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The newly redesigned Volkswagen Jetta now ranks last among the 11 small sedans that have been tested by Consumer Reports. Engineers found fault with its agility, cornering grip, coarse engine, braking, interior fit and finish, and so-so fuel economy.

"The new Jetta is unimpressive," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. "In an effort to bring the car's starting price down, VW cheapened the previous Jetta's interior and suspension, making it less sophisticated and compromising handling."

The four-vehicle small sedan test group also featured two versions of the new Chevrolet Cruze-which CR found light-years ahead of the crude Chevrolet Cobalt that it replaced-and the latest generation Hyundai Elantra.

The Cruze now ranks mid-pack among the 11 small sedans tested, with a Very Good overall score. The two versions tested handled nicely and felt substantial. But a tight rear seat and so-so fuel economy for this class reduced the Cruze's overall scores.

Consumer Report's findings on the newly redesigned Elantra were highlighted last month in CR's Annual Auto Issue, where it was named a Top Pick in its category. It currently ranks as the best small sedan that's been tested by the publication, followed by the Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla, in descending order. The Sentra, Impreza and Corolla had all been tested previously. The redesigned Ford Focus just went on sale; Consumer Reports will be testing one in the months ahead.

Prices for the small sedans tested in this group ranged from $18,375 for the Cruze LS to $20,530 for the Cruze LT.

The issue also features a test of the redesigned Scion tC coupe and ratings of car batteries including four from a new lower-cost line of batteries called PlusStart that performed well.

The Elantra is the only vehicle in the test group that is Recommended. The Cruze LS, Scion tC, and Volkswagen Jetta scored too low to be Recommended. The Cruze LT is too new for Consumer Reports to have adequate reliability data to Recommend. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The wagon version of the Jetta, called the SportWagen, is based on the previous generation of the vehicle; the SportWagen is still Recommended.

Full tests and ratings for all five of these test vehicles appear in the May issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale April 5th. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org . Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The redesigned Hyundai Elantra combines nimble handling with a comfortable, well-controlled ride. The interior is well equipped and neatly laid out. Quick, responsive steering and little body lean help the Elantra feel agile. Emergency handling is very secure. The Elantra GLS ($18,445 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 148-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that provides decent performance and gets 29 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and responsively. Braking is Very Good. Fit and finish is good for the class. The trunk is spacious. CR expects reliability to be above average like the previous Elantra.

The Chevrolet Cruze handles nicely and has a taut and controlled ride. Its relatively heavy weight-as much as some larger mid-sized family sedans-hampers fuel economy and acceleration. The Cruze LS ($18,375 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 138-hp, 1.8-liter four cylinder engine. The uplevel Chevrolet Cruze LT ($20,530 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 138-hp 1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder. Both engines perform adequately and get 26 mpg overall, but the LT's engine is more responsive and refined. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The well-finished cabin is one of the nicest in this class, but the rear seat is tight. There is a good-sized trunk. Some popular and important features, like power mirrors, are unavailable on the Cruze LS.

The redesigned Volkswagen Jetta is a shadow of the agile, well-finished car it once was. The rear seat is roomier and the trunk is huge, but handling agility and cornering grip now fall short, as does the finish inside the formerly impeccable interior. The Jetta SE ($20,800 MSRP as tested), is powered by a coarse-sounding 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that gives adequate acceleration and gets 25 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission can be slow to downshift. Braking distances are long. Cargo space can be expanded by folding the 60/40 rear seatback.

The redesigned Scion tC is a well-equipped coupe that provides responsive handling as well as very good fuel economy and acceleration. A jittery ride, noisy cabin, and limited rear visibility are low points. The Scion tC ($19,165 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 180-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is responsive and gets an impressive 28 mpg. The six-speed manual transmission shifts precisely, and effortlessly, but it lacks the sporty feel of the best shifters. Braking is Very Good. Fit and finish are unimpressive. Cargo space is good and the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold to create a generous hatchback bay.


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Comments (28)

Grey Grey
u get what u pay for but then again u pay the same money for the likes of the Corollas and Mazda 3 and get alot more hmmm i guess vw still want to hold on to their premium brand image by giving the customer less for more tsk tsk
Oct 28th, 2011 3:48am
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tbrodie tbrodie
For a new model, I haven't seen the new Jetta do well in comparison tests, but it looks like Ford has a winner with the new Focus.
Apr 16th, 2011 11:15pm
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Shark Shark
Consumer Reports Premiere magazine?? Now that's the funniest thing I read in a long time. I personally do not know anyone that thinks that and would never buy any car they review or take their opinions seriously because they are very biased. I am not a VW fan but I would rather base my opinions on other magazines that perform comparison tests and have a standing reputation for being fair.
Apr 9th, 2011 1:33am
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Grey Grey
umm what country ru living in??? when it come to brutal unbiased truth consumer reports is the one to go to. they had been sue by so many angry car companies and always persevere.
Oct 28th, 2011 4:03am
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haji9008 haji9008
VW 'Shit-ta'(jetta) looks more better but too expensive than Corolla/Civic and they look more better than VW....ya fools
Apr 8th, 2011 9:39am
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shaahinmt shaahinmt
i'm so happy that this piece of crap is finally getting what it deserves after waiting for 22 years.
Apr 7th, 2011 10:41pm
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Lateknight Lateknight
Economy over substance. Its a fine balance.
Apr 7th, 2011 9:33pm
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Siawa Siawa
Even though the Jetta looks amazing in person and side front profile gives you this Audi look, I myself was disappointed with the interior.
Apr 7th, 2011 7:52pm
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charlemagne charlemagne
taht's why I'm an audi guy: audi is the vw at its best.
Apr 7th, 2011 7:12pm
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DelPiero1980 DelPiero1980
droid_dtm "Perhaps the review misses the point of the new Jetta. VW has said they want to become more mainstream and ditch the entry-premium position it holds. To that end, sophistication is not needed when one considers coma-inducing best sellers like the Corolla and Civic. Sales figures show vanilla is what the American public wants, and thats what VW has given them in the latest Jetta" True, but that strategy would have worked for VW in the mid-2000s when GM,Ford and Hyundai's compacts were piece of craps. The only competition were the uninspiring Corolla/Civic. Now a days just when VW decided to make special purpose Jetta/Passats for America, Ford, GM and Hyundai have One car for all markets. And just when VW thinks that Americans like cheap interiors in their compacts (contrary to their believes in the '99 Jetta), GM, Hyun and especially Ford decided to put soft-touch quality dashboards. And just when the Jetta goes back to torsion-bar suspension the Focus has independent rear suspension. It was a really bad idea for VW. They took a step backwards just when GM takes 1 step forward, Hyundai takes two and Ford takes five. Good luck VW with your American Passat and reaching 800K cars by 2018. The new Malibu and Mondeo/Fusion are around the corner
Apr 7th, 2011 11:18am
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GTurbo GTurbo
Hey Italian striker, I get your point. Those three amigo car firms you mentioned have noticeably stepped their game up aesthetically and technologically. VW need to reconsider the status of the Passat; it should be a class leader in the mainstream B-segment market, but the Mondeo, Sonata and Vauxhall/Opel Insignia (ECOTY winner about two years ago) are on a whole new level now!
Apr 7th, 2011 4:16pm
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tbrodie tbrodie
Consumer Reports might be highly regarded for some of their research, but they also test a lot of toasters and home appliances.
Apr 7th, 2011 10:44am
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tbrodie tbrodie
By VW's own research, it's not that Americans won't pay a premium for a VW, they just won't pay 20%+ more. In recent years they've been hammered with the exchange rate. Content dropped as they tried to hold prices, perhaps selling some lines at a loss. I haven't read anything about the US GLI having a multi-link rear suspension. I've had VWs and liked them, but not everyone is willing to pay $35K for a hot hatch. I hope they don't alienate their faithful following while they try to be all things to all people. Dealing with VW service is enough of a cross to bear.
Apr 7th, 2011 7:48am
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droid_dtm droid_dtm
Yes, the GLi and GTi versions will retain the same multilink rear suspension and upgraded interiors of the euro-spec models. It was mentioned right here on WCF in previous Jetta posts
Apr 7th, 2011 9:47am
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accousticjama accousticjama
VW are the most boring car manufacturer in the world, even their “R” models are a joke.
Apr 7th, 2011 7:10am
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droid_dtm droid_dtm
clearly you haven't been to a Toyota showroom recently
Apr 7th, 2011 9:43am
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Lateknight Lateknight
Hmm. From someone who has never driven one. stick to your pushbike little kiddie....
Apr 7th, 2011 9:34pm
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shaahinmt shaahinmt
@accousticjam. ahaha good one
Apr 7th, 2011 10:43pm
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Grey Grey
VW fans are in a cult never insult any VW in their presence they will hunt u down!!! lmao
Oct 28th, 2011 3:37am
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ve ve
I would not get too stewed up about the USA Jetta, it has been aimed at the USA market. Specification for Europe and Australasian markets are tailored to meet them. If the Jetta bombs out saleswise it not our problem , it is VW's .
Apr 7th, 2011 6:51am
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out4ride out4ride
My sister is on her third jetta and she loves it. I spend lots of time driving with her in all three of them and I can't say the new one fell worse. I would have to say it feels better. Has more room and drives quite good for stepped down suspension. Interior isn't bad at all and doesn't feel cheap just because you know it is. One thing I don't like is steering which is way to lite for me. Surprisingly she hasn't had any problems with her cars just a scheduled maintenance which vw pays for.
Apr 7th, 2011 5:48am
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Ferraridude Ferraridude
I wish that the US didn't have to get the boring versions of the European cars.
Apr 7th, 2011 5:35am
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DeleteThisAccount DeleteThisAccount
I think Americans should stop expecting premium quality sedans for the price of a small hatchback. You get what you pay for, or you get what you wish for.
Apr 7th, 2011 5:17am
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Grey Grey
theres not much competition for this market like there is in the US. so else where ppl learn to live with inferior products tsk tsk
Oct 28th, 2011 4:11am
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When you're talking compact/economy cars, you really do get what you pay for.
Apr 7th, 2011 5:15am
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droid_dtm droid_dtm
Perhaps the review misses the point of the new Jetta. VW has said they want to become more mainstream and ditch the entry-premium position it holds. To that end, sophistication is not needed when one considers coma-inducing best sellers like the Corolla and Civic. Sales figures show vanilla is what the American public wants, and thats what VW has given them in the latest Jetta. Nay sayers need only go for the GLi and GTi versions if they still want euro spec quality and thrills. In my opinion, there's something for everyone. Regardless, I'm sure the Jetta is still going to be more fun and more rewarding in ownership than a Craprolla anyway. A comparison test will prove that soon enough.
Apr 7th, 2011 4:32am
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SupaMonks SupaMonks
I couldn't agree with you more. The Jetta has always been better than the civic and corolla, but its price turned people off. This new generation is there to thrill jetta enthusiasts, as they only account for a small margin of buyers. The GLI version is going to be great but only at price.
Apr 7th, 2011 5:11am
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fast_lane fast_lane
One of the reasons why the "Craprolla" is popular is because its affordable with good quality or reliability. Toyota isn't exactly giving them away for free. Yes the Jetta may more fun to drive, and once had better materials. But I know a lot of people who had VWs, and they all had problems with them. Even the one's who are VW-loyal even admit to having problems. Even repair costs are comparable to Mercedes and BMW, and I think people would most likely rather own those. Face it, if the the Corolla was the craprolla that you said it was, it would not be a top seller. Unless the new Jetta and Passat could bring in lower ownership costs and better reliability, they will be outsold by not only by Toyota and Honda, but Ford, GM, and Hyundai.
Apr 7th, 2011 7:05pm
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