2015 Jetta TDI SEL: Turbo Charge Your Sedan

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Tdi Sel
See what all the buzz on the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SEL is all about.

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SEL, see why it’s all the buzz in the automotive world.

Descriptions of the 2015 Jetta TDI SEL, Volkswagen’s most popular compact sedan, are filled with automotive buzz words, like turbo-charged, stronger torque and aerodynamic improvements that sound impressive but how do they translate into the real day to day performance that the average car driver experiences?

I had a chance to find out on a recent trip around San Francisco and north to wine country with the 2015 Jetta TDI SEL.

Pump up the Performance

Driving in San Francisco can be a little nerve wracking. The steep hills give you the sensation of being on a roller coaster with inclines that feel like they are at a 45 degree angle.  The new Jetta had no problems; it stopped on a dime every time, and much to my relief there was no rollback at the top of the hills with the automatic transmission.

2015 Jetta Tdi Sel

Driving in San Francisco in the 2015 Jetta TDI SEL.

Driving out of the city, we took the scenic route along the ocean, which meant narrow winding roads.  The Jetta maneuvered the turns and twists just fine and the electric power assist steering made driving comfortable and easy.

Safety first for this mom

As a mom, aesthetics took a back seat to safety the day my daughter was born, so I look for high ratings when purchasing a car.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2015 Jetta a five star safety rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it a top safety pick in 2014.

We drove a Jetta TDI SEL with Driver Assistance and Lighting package which included features like Blind Spot Warning, Rear Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Warning, and Park Distance Control  – plus it has a standard rearview camera.

2015 Jetta Tdi Sel Blind Spot Warning

Jetta TDI SEL with Driver Assistance and Lighting package which included features like Blind Spot Warning,

I particularly loved the Blind Spot Warning and Rear Traffic alert; you always knew when another vehicle was in your blind spot when the indicators lit up on the left and right side mirrors.  I would still look over my shoulder before changing lanes on the highway, but it was great to always be aware of what was around you.

The Rear Traffic Alert lets you know if something is approaching the rear of your car when you are backing out of a parking spot; helpful when you can’t see past the large SUV parked beside you or at the grocery store where children run ahead of their parents in the parking lot.

I am also a big fan of the heated power side mirror; I have been on the road many times where I can’t see out of them because of snow or rain.

The Jetta’s comfort and design: looking good and feeling better

The VW Passat has always caught my eye and the refreshed design of Jetta gives it a more clean-edged Passat-like look. The power tinted sunroof also gives this model a sportier feel than the average small sedan.

Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control is now on my must-have list when I purchase my next car.  My extremities are always colder than my husband’s so it was a real luxury for us to choose our own temperature preferences during the chilly California mornings.

The 2015 Jetta Looking Good Inside And Out.

The 2015 Jetta TDI looking good inside and out.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel is wider than most as well as soft and comfortable to grip.  What I liked best was that its temperature remained moderate after a cold night or parking in 100-plus degree temperatures.

The keyless access with a push start ignition took a while to get used to.  I spent the first five minutes trying to figure out how to turn the car on.  I am the worst for misplacing my keys (even inside a car!) so I had to remember to put the “key” in one place so I could find it to lock the door when I got out.

2015 Jetta Tdi Sel San Fran 2

San Francisco: the perfect destination to test drive the 2015 VW Jetta TDI.

Trunk space in compact sedans are notoriously small but the Jetta actually has a decent sized trunk; (15.5 cu ft) you could easily fit a large suitcase, a standard carry-on and a few other smaller bags.  It can also be expanded by folding down the back seat.

I was happy that the weather for my trip was sunny and beautiful but disappointed that I didn’t get to try out the rain-sensing wipers.  Apparently, when it starts to rain the windshield wipers turn on automatically. They also regulate their speed according to how much rain is falling so you don’t have to constantly adjust them while driving in hazardous conditions. This feature is particularly close to my heart because my husband doesn’t like to turn on the wipers until the windshield visibility is nil and as a passenger it drives me crazy.

 2015 Jetta Tdi Sel

A closer look at the inside of the 2015 Jetta TDI SEL

Why drive a diesel car?

In a nutshell, diesel fuel is heavier, denser and less flammable than gasoline.  The upside of diesel fuel is that because it is denser, diesel-powered vehicles get more miles per gallon. Diesel is slightly more expensive than gas at the moment but the better mileage makes it work out to the driver’s advantage.  Driving around hilly San Francisco, which can give a car quite a workout, and up north to Sonoma County and back we used less than half a tank of fuel!

2015 Jetta Tdi Sel

The 2015 Jetta TDI SEL’s Power tented sunroof brings San Francisco.

The downside to diesel-powered cars is that they run a little louder than their gasoline, or hybrid, counterparts.  The 2015 Jetta uses Clean Diesel fuel technology which is supposed to be the quietest diesel engine ever made but I still found it a bit loud for my taste.

Diesel also emits far less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other emissions that contribute to global warming but it’s not completely clean; it does emit more soot than gasoline engines.  Clean Diesel technology burns cleaner and more efficiently so it is better than it ever was—but no driving is totally guilt-free.

The good news is that the 2015 VW Jetta is also available with gasoline as well as hybrid  options.

Driving tips for San Francisco

2015 Jetta Tdi Sel

Parking on steep inclines can be challenging

Parking:  In driving school we learned to turn our front wheels toward the curb when parking on a downward sloping hill and away from the curb when on an upward-facing hill.  In San Francisco, if you don’t park this way, you can get a $58 parking ticket.   A zealous parking enforcement officer may also issue a ticket if your wheels are not touching the curb.  And don’t forget your parking brake!

Red Stop Lights:  You can turn on a red light after coming to a complete stop and yielding for pedestrians and traffic.

Trunk:  When packing your belongings in the trunk remember to securely fasten your more fragile items since driving up and down hills may cause items to shift and get damaged.

What We Loved

  • Great gas mileage: we worked it out to 32.6 mpg with a mix of city and highway driving
  • Decent trunk space: 15.5 cubit feet
  • Good Handling:  drove steep hills and winding roads with no effort
  • State of the art safety feature options:  Blind Spot Warning, Rear Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Warning and Park Distance Control plus the side view heated mirrors.

What You Need To Know

  • $26,410 base price: the model I test drove, $30,020
  • The Driver Assistance and Lighting Package was included in the model I drove (about $1700 extra) and includes:Bi-Xenon headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), Forward Collision Warning and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert
  • 3 year / 36,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty
  • 5 year / 60,000 mile power train warranty
  • 3 year/36,000 mile roadside assistance
  • 12 months/10,000 miles Volkswagen Carefree Maintenance
  • Requires Diesel Fuel2015 Jetta Tdi Sel Monroney

Disclosure: the Jetta TDI SEL was provided to me for our test drive: opinions expressed are my own.