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2011-2018 Volkswagen Jetta: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Published on April 29, 2022 in Pre-owned vehicles by The Car Guide

Quebecers have a thing for small German cars, as shown by the success the Volkswagen Jetta has enjoyed here for several decades. The European sedan was entirely redesigned for model year 2019, receiving in the process the maker’s MQB platform in order to better suit the needs of the North American market.

Does the previous generation still deserve the attention of used compact sedan buyers? Very much. Here’s what you need to know about the Volkswagen Jetta 2011 to 2018.

A Modern Look

First, in terms of design, this Jetta is close to the one we have today. Classic (some call it conservative), it doesn’t really go out of fashion. Same for the cabin, where the German aesthetics can easily be recognized.

The ergonomics are complicated by certain controls that are either very small, or located in unusual places. However, the space is generous and the trunk can handle up to 439 litres of luggage.

Photo: Volkswagen Canada Inc.

Several Versions

At the beginning of the generation, the model was offered in five main trims; Trendline, Trendline+, Comfortline, Sportline and Highline. Three engines were on the menu, a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder (115 horsepower), a 2.5-litre 5-cylinder (170 horsepower), and a turbo diesel TDI engine (only 140 horsepower, but 236 ft-lb of torque). Nervous and fuel efficient, the latter was abandoned after 2015 following the “Dieselgate”.

A 2.0-litre turbocharged engine (200 horsepower) was added in 2012 and that’s the one you should look for if you need performance and fun drive. However, numerous complaints have been made regarding an diverter valve that wears prematurely or rusts and causes the engine to malfunction. You’ve been warned.  

For the best fuel economy, consider the Jetta Turbo Hybrid, which produces an appreciable 170 horsepower and burns only 5.4 L/100 km on average.

In 2014, Volkswagen replaced the 2.5-litre engine with a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 170 horsepower and 184 ft-lb of torque.

Photo: Volkswagen Canada

Two years later, the Jetta received some modifications. Most notably, its basic engine was replaced by a new 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder (150 horsepower and 185 ft-lb of torque), while the 2-litre turbo was upgraded to 210 horsepower.

More Modifications

Then, towards the end of its career, the compact has benefited from a few slight revisions to its equipment, and has gained a Wolfsburg edition with some distinctive touches. It was also fitted with a larger central screen.

Considering the mechanical diversity and the history of the old Jetta, an inspection before buying is paramount. Don’t forget to thoroughly test the vehicle on the road, as well as all the electric and electronic systems. Lastly, be aware that a long list of recalls comes with this car, so you also need to make sure that all the recommended corrections have been applied to the one you are interested in.

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