Volkswagen Jetta TDI Priced at $21,990


Volkswagen is trumpeting both the pricing and fuel economy of the new Jetta TDI, which starts at $21,990. This is the much-anticipated new clean-diesel version of the Jetta, and although it's pricier (the gas-powered version starts at $16,990), Volkswagen hopes the vehicle's fuel economy will make up the difference in the minds of car buyers.

Whereas the gas-powered Jetta averaged 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, the TDI is rated at 29/40 mpg city/highway by the EPA. Volkswagen also claims that in real-world testing, the TDI rated even better, coming in at 38/44 mpg.

With the average price of a gallon of diesel at nearly $4.80, it will be interesting to see if the TDI has many takers.

By Stephen Markley | June 19, 2008 | Comments (26)
Tags: Volkswagen



I think sales will be initially slow, due to really high diesel prices, but hopefully diesel prices will sink back to normal prices and more people can definitely switch from gas to diesel. And how much does biodiesel cost anyway?


Isn't it the policy of this site to only put credence in EPA mileage figures, and not to give credibility to "real world" mileage claims? That said, I hope the new TDI achieves what VW is claiming.

we can only make comparisons between cars with EPA number because all real world numbers will vary.
We're stating what VW is claiming which is a manufacturer and should have some weight. We also wonder if the EPA's overhaul of mileage ratings had the same impact on diesel figures. We might have to look into that if VW is claiming a significantly different result. Otherwise we've seen routinely that the new EPA numbers are quite accurate.


Good explanation - I would tend to believe VW. Thanks Dave.


If you read the complete EPA report on their new fuel economy testing protocol you will see that they state that their new testing protocol underrates the fuel economy of diesel cars by ~18%. VW's claim of 44/38 is a result of third-party testing, not VW results. I fully expect to see these numbers rather than the EPA numbers.

thanks keith! did not know that. we might do a piece on this!


Some people think I'm crazy because I just bought a diesel truck, but I get 29% better mileage, and the cost of diesel is just 17% more than 87 octane gas, so I'm saving money every month, despite the higher price.

When my wife's car is up for replacement, a TDI Sportwagen will be at the TOP of my list. I fully antipate this car to do better than the EPA ratings.


The third-party agency is AMCI which I know nothing about. The EPA report doesn't read as simply as I is a government report afterall! They compared their mpg labels to actual mpg data from some large database source and determined that actual mpg data was exceeding their mpg labels by ~18%. The report is quite specific but I don't really have the patience to decipher all the information they present!


I don't know how you calculate but here is how I did it. I take 10Gal of fuel. D=$48 G=$42
With jetta making avg-37mpg and corolla 29 mpg I compared: Jetta's range is 370mi and Corolla is 290mi.
Jetta fuel cost per mile = $48/370 = $0.13
Corolla fuel cost per mile = $42/290 = $0.14

over the course of 15,000 miles your saving is $15.

My conclussion: Jetta is not fuel efficient enought to pay extra money for diesel technology and will not save any money.


Sorry, Jetta saves $150 of annual fuel - not enough

Same calculation for prius shows that it will save $750 of annual fuel cost.


Given VW's quality/reliability track record I wouldn't feel comfortable buying a VW diesel. Factor in the cost of diesel and it's too much of a risk. I like Tony's assessment, it appears to be spot-on.

Sounds to me this is a bit late. Offer the old 1.7L gas engine back and you'll get the same numbers. Set it at the $16k price with air conditioning then you'll have something.

I'm surprised the starting price is so low. The previous generation TDI where a 1 year 06 model only. Around here, I can't find a used one cheaper than $23K!


There's a lot of attention paid to just one aspect of a diesel: the cost per mile of fuel. There are other benefits of diesel though.

A tankful will go considerably further, so you can fill up less frequently, or go further before needing to fill up.

Diesel vehicles tend to last longer, in part because the engines are, of necessity, stronger, and in part because diesel oil is naturally a lubricant.

Resale values tend to be a higher percentage of the original price, which offsets their original higher cost. A bit like the way buying a Honda can cost less over time than an initially cheaper Hyundai.

Then there's the dependence on imported oil. If everyone drove diesels, it would reduce the total amount of oil which has to be imported considerably.

So, even with diesel more expensive than gasoline, it can still make a lot of sense to run a diesel.


I could read your post for hours until you said, "...Then there's the dependence on imported oil. If everyone drove diesels, it would reduce the total amount of oil which has to be imported considerably..."

This statement alone tells me that you are very uninformed customer.
The truth is that if everyone drove diesel, it would lower fuel consumption but not the dependence on foreign oil or any oil. america is not dependent on foreign oil. This are tales gov wants you to believe to promote that ridiculous ethanol program. We have so much of our oun oil! We just not digging it. And this is good. So we force conservation and preservation + new tech. We need a good balance between diesel and gas vehicle park.
The issue is that out of 1 barrel of oil you can make a nice range of products, from grease to the finest gasoline but you can't convert all of it into diesel. You make the diesel and there will be some energy remaining in the form of gasoline and we need gas-powered cars to use it. And if cars are hybrids or other fuel-efficient vehicles it will not require to produce too much crude.

In this particular discussion the motion was about benefits of this particular car to its owner. And it looks like there are none of the obvious benefits in this particular case.
If anyone wants to pay $4K premium for the ability to refuel less frequently... please, do it.


If you are going to rebut GCN's comment then do so with responses that are understandable. Some of your statements do not make sense like "a good balance between diesel and gas vehicle park" and "it will not require to produce too much crude."

But that is a sidenote. What I wanted to comment on is that the premium for the diesel is on the order of $2000, not $4000. The equivalent gas version is the SE and it's 2008 price starts at ~$20K.


"a good balance between diesel and gas vehicle park" means that there must be cars that run on diesel and on gas.
"it will not require to produce too much crude." that was said in relation that if there would be many diesels and other cars would be hybrid, we wouldn't need extra crude oil to make more gasoline. Besically I talked about energy usage regulation.

As the pricing goes, you are right. Jetta to Jetta D may be only $2K difference but I compared against Corolla. Jetta gas averages 23-25?mpg May be in this perspective it makes finantial sense. Regular Jetta runs about $.17 per mile, so you save $255 per year. It will take you 8 years to get even with gas Jetta.
They say, hybrids these days make you even in less then 4 years. Truth is that in the city hybrids really save you $$$$ on gas, not as mach as in subs.


My Civic gets similar mileage in real world driving. Costs about one thousand less. Uses 87 octane gasoline that cost me $3.95 per gallon this morning to fill up. And don't get me started with VW's reliability issue.

Why would anyone but the TDI?



Don't worry, Honda will be offering a diesel soon as well. You can buy one of those instead.


A few years back my family owned a Jetta TDI. It got wonderful mileage however the reliability was so poor we ended-up trading her in for a Toyota Corolla. The frustrating part was several of the dealers didn't know how to fix the car and most of the problems were related to the electrical system. I don't think I would ever buy another VW, but if they gave a 5/50 bumper-to-bumper warranty I might reconsider.


I agree with J. Diesels make a lot of sense for trucks, but the advantages seem less clear for cars. With choices like the Civic, Corolla, Mini, Smart and Prius, buying a diesel car boils down to personal preference, rather than financial or environmental gains.


Buying any car boils down to personal preference and the availability of affordable diesel vehicles just provides one more option for the consumer to choose from. And while there are drawbacks to the burning of any fossil fuel, diesel does provide some inherent "environmental gains" over gasoline. The physics of a diesel engine make it 20-30% more efficient than a gasoline engine even after adjusting for the higher energy density of diesel fuel. What this means is that a diesel engine would produce 20-30% less CO2 than a gas engine for doing an equivalent amount of work (this does not mean equivalent horsepower or torque or displacement). That is a significant reduction of a greenhouse gas. Secondly, the process to refine crude oil into gasoline and diesel is not equal. Diesel is generally simpler to refine than gasoline as it is a medium distillate versus a light distillate (light distillates require crude oil to be heated to a higher temperature than medium distillates). What this means simplistically is that diesel fuel requires less energy than gasoline to refine - another inherent environmental gain. Now I know that there are other positives and negatives but I just wanted to illustrate the major reasons why diesel makes less of an impact on our environment.


Keith, you state your points well, but I've read conflicting information. Here's an excerpt from a web site. I'll list the link below, and maybe you can straighten them out:

"To address diesel's emissions problems, tougher emissions rules are coming into effect. To meet the tougher pollution standards, high-tech diesel engines need low-sulfur diesel fuel. Unfortunately, US Department of Energy modeling has shown this fuel to be more oil- and carbon-intensive than reformulated gasoline.

Making a gallon of diesel fuel requires 25% more oil and emits 17% more heat-trapping greenhouse gases than gasoline reformulated with MTBE. Similarly, diesel requires 17% more oil and emits 18% more heat-trapping gases than gasoline reformulated with ethanol. This means that diesel fuel's advantages from its higher per-gallon energy content and better performance on greenhouse gases are partially offset by the impact of diesel's fuel-production process."


I'll have to look into this more. Interesting that they are comparing diesel to reformulated gasolines and not pure gasoline. Their quote is a bit misleading as the oil content in gasoline will of course be less when it is reformulated with some percentage of MTBE or ethanol. I am also curious about how they have derived their numbers.



My point is, it is pointless to try and sell me any diesel.


The EPA seems determined to make their numbers meaningless. In 2006, they critiqued their own fuel economy estimates as being as much as 20% too low on diesels ( Then they updated their system. We know they corrected the errors they made with hybrids, but what did they do with diesels? Mutter, mutter. I feel the only thing I KNOW about the EPA estimates on diesels is "your actual results may vary". So I will wait a year to and watch the blogs for "actual fuel economy" reports. Thanks guys.

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