2006 Volkswagen Jetta

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As Volkswagen tries to shake itself out of the sales doldrums in the U.S., the new-generation Jetta had its worldwide debut in Los Angeles. No wonder, since this sedan accounts for forty percent of VW sales in America. Predictably enough, the new Jetta gets a little bigger; it's about seven inches longer, an inch wider, and about three-quarters of an inch taller. There's a new, 150-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, while a 200-hp turbo and a 100-hp turbo diesel will follow. As always, VW delivers a lot of new technological value, including electro-mechanical steering, all-independent multi-link rear suspension, and electronic stability control. But we'll see if all this moves the Jetta very far upscale, as it still is less spacious and less powerful than its competition. Moreover, its flashy new grille is attached to bodywork that looks bland and Korean-like at close range. With a five-speed manual gearbox, the MSRP starts at $17,900, while the six-speed manu-matic takes the price to $18,300.

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