Vehicle Type: Sedan / Wagon
At a Glance
Jetta is Germany’s answer to the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Chevrolet Cruze and other comparable compact models. Look for sedan and wagon variants of the popular Volkswagen, as well as numerous limited-edition packages and special models.
Air conditioning, cruise control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, electric windows and heated mirrors were all on board. Ditto an eight-speaker MP3 compatible stereo system with auxiliary input jack. Look for premium features including xenon lights, a power sunroof, heated leather, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, motorized seats and more, depending on the model in question.
Safety features are plentiful, and will typically include an Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), and four-wheel ABS disc brakes. Side and side-curtain airbags are also fitted as standard, offering added protection in case of an impact.
If you’re a fan of having room to haul your things around, be sure to seek out a Jetta Wagon – which approaches 2,000 L of available cargo space with its rear seats folded. Add a roof-mounted gear carrier or racks to taste.
Look for this generation Jetta in sedan or wagon body styles, noting that the latter will likely be rarer in the used market. For 2006, this generation Jetta launched with a unique five-cylinder engine that developed 150 horsepower. A five-speed manual or six-speed automatic with Tiptronic shifting was available. For 2009, engineers gave the five-cylinder engine 20 more horsepower, raising the total to 170.
Volkswagen’s Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) powerplant was also available in the Jetta Sedan and Wagon models. The TDI engine produces 140 horsepower and a plentiful 235 lb-ft of torque. Fuel is delivered by ultra-precise, high pressure injectors, allowing for quieter, smell-free operation and optimized efficiency.
All models were front-wheel drive.
Owners typically rate the Jetta’s ride, handling, styling, comfort and spaciousness highly, with refinement, noise levels and overall driving feel coming in just behind. Many owners say they feel safe and confident while driving in the wintertime, and others report pleasing performance and decent mileage from the five-cylinder engine. Easy-to-use controls and good visibility round out the long list of ‘pros’.
Common gripes include somewhat limited rear-seat space and awkward seats. The latter complaint is largely dependent on your own shape and size, so be sure to ascertain whether or not you’re able to get comfortable in the used Jetta you’re considering on a test-drive.
Check 1: Electronics
As it tends to go with used German cars, the Jetta was known for a variety of electrical and sensor-related problems that could show themselves in the form of numerous niggling issues. Ensure all motorized features work as expected – including all windows, the sunroof, power seats and power locks. Be sure no ‘Check Engine’ lights are illuminated, test the stereo system on both radio and CD modes, and be sure the Bluetooth system works properly, along with the steering-wheel mounted audio controls.
Check 2: Engine Issues
Engine problems seem fairly infrequent, with the majority of those reported online being sensor-related and relatively easy to diagnose and fix. As a used car shopper, your best peace of mind in purchasing a gas-powered Jetta will come from having a VW mechanic check the engine computer for stored trouble codes, ensuring all fluids are fresh and full, and budgeting for a full fluid change if the vehicle’s service history is unknown. Note that some owners have reported leaky radiator hoses and overflow tanks, so examine the Jetta you’re considering for leaks or puddles of coolant beneath the car. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re not sure how.
Check 3: The Clutch
Some owners experienced with manual transmissions have reported premature clutch wear, so be sure to scrutinize any slippage or grinding experienced while test-driving a model with a stick-shift. If you’re not sure how to check for signs of a worn clutch, have a friend experienced in driving a manual transmission join you for the test-drive. Don’t take the sellers word that the clutch isn’t on its last legs if you’re suspicious.
Check 4: The TDI
Though the TDI diesel engine has a well-earned reputation for near-bulletproof reliability, poor performance, excessive noise, smoke or hesitation could be a sign of engine trouble. If you’re considering a TDI, seek additional peace of mind by asking your local VW service centre to check for any leaks or other concerns, and to examine the condition of the turbocharger system, fuel pump and lift-pump. Remember: a low-cost pre-purchase check can keep shoppers from buying a car that’s about to require a high-cost repair.
Check 5: The Recalls
The Transport Canada Road Safety Recalls Database shows that this generation Jetta was affected by no fewer than nine recalls issued to address latent safety defects. Recall work is carried out free of charge by the vehicle’s dealership. Provide the VIN number of the Jetta you’re considering to your nearest VW dealer to see if any recall work is outstanding.
Check 6: The Timing Belt
The Jetta, and Jetta TDI from this generation both use a timing belt to set the mechanical ‘heartbeat’ of their engines. A timing belt is a very important part that’s changed preemptively, at regular intervals, even if it’s not broken. If an overused timing belt snaps or fails, the engine it’s attached to will stop dead in its tracks and could be catastrophically damaged. Be sure to determine where the timing belt sits within its service life, budgeting a few hundred dollars to have the work completed if it’s due.
The last-generation Jetta can provide a comfortable drive and enjoyable handling but look closely at your used Jetta for potential electronics issues and also for a full recall and service history.
autoTRADER.ca Owner Review
2009 Volkswagen Jetta: “The most comfortable car I've ever ridden in. Got it for my back. The heated leather seats are so comfortable it feels as if I'm sitting in my living room when out on the road. Great city car and to travel in. Very smooth.”
by Jetta1015 on autoTRADER.ca 02/13/2014
Autos.ca Review Quotes and Links
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: “The Jetta is proving a comfortable ride, with great front seats and decent space, and for a car whose powertrain focuses on fuel economy, it offers a far more entertaining drive in terms of handling compared to a hybrid. The suspension is tuned for comfort, but certainly not at the expense of road holding.”
- Chris Chase/Autos.ca
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon: “Stylish, roomy, comfortable, and affordable, the new Jetta Wagon has the cargo room of a small SUV and the driving manners of a car. But why isn’t stability control standard?”
- Greg Wilson/Autos.ca
2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: “If you still think that diesels are underpowered, noisy and/or smelly, “Forgeddaboudit!”. The Jetta’s distinctive diesel rattle at idle and diesel clatter under acceleration can barely be heard if the windows are up, and at freeway speeds, the engine is very quiet, due in part to its low revving nature.”
- Greg Wilson/Autos.ca