Taking the Diesel Challenge: Driving a VW Jetta

A Girls Guide To Cars | Taking The Diesel Challenge: Driving A Vw Jetta - Vw Jetta Diesel

Diesel cars are becoming really popular; many car manufacturers are offering them and I hear my friends discussing them as an alternative to gas-saving hybrids, so I became curious. Recently, I tested out a VW Jetta TDI for a weekend and came away impressed.

Fuel Economy

This is the reason a diesel is getting attention: the Jetta got about 30% better gas mileage than the regular gas engine Jetta: over 42 mpg on the highway. We drove two hours to Connecticut and the gas gauge barely moved.


ImgresThe ride was smooth, the noise level was low and there was plenty of room in the back seat. We only had three people in the car, but we could see that four or five could fit comfortably.

Trunk Space

I love big empty trunks so I can fill them up on Fairway or Petco runs. Living in the city, we have to maximize our trips to big box stores when we have access to a car. This means we stock up, so trunk space is important. We hit both the grocery store and the pet store on our trip, and everything fit easily.

Finding Fuel

This can be extra challenging in NYC, where gas stations occupy prime real estate – there really aren’t that many gas stations at all in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Luckily, there was a station with diesel fuel only a few blocks away, and this is becoming the case more and more; diesel is readily available along the highway and more frequently in suburban areas, too. It is something that needs to be considered when buying a diesel: is fuel available nearby?


The Jetta was packed with technology designed to help the driver operate things like navigation and music while keeping a focus on the road: hands free voice activation  allows the driver to ask for functions such as “set destination” and “call my husband.” I liked that the voice mode didn’t interrupt the music, but this is better when there’s a passenger who can read aloud instructions and can be frustrating if you are driving alone. I wasn’t able to find a way to set the navigation so it interrupted the music feed when giving directions, and was glad I had a passenger to help with directions.

The nav system allowed my passenger to input data in a moving vehicle (while warning you of the danger), something not all systems will do.

My favorite extra was the sunroof, part of the premium package. It was easy to figure out and offered a nice way to cool off without using air conditioning.  I’m not sure if the drag on the car offsets the fuel savings when you don’t have the AC pumping, but it allows you to enjoy the outdoors without having ‘convertible’ hair.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the Jetta TDI for our test drive, but opinions are all my own.

Judy Antell, who is TravelingMom.com's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell