2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

#VW, #Jetta

With the economy on the verge of melting down, fuel prices at outrageous levels, and global warming threatening to torch your prized rhododendrons, it might be wise to look for a more economical car when the lease on your current Volkswagen Jetta ends. You could replace your Jetta with a Smart ForTwo, use about a third less fuel, and drive around with a smug smile on your face in the belief that your little car is saving the world. Then again, you'd have to throw out your significant other, find a new home for the dog, and sell the kids, because the Smart isn't big enough to carry all of you. Oh, the dilemma.

Fear not. Volkswagen has the smug-smile solution to all of your Jetta needs. The new Jetta TDI (turbocharged direct injection) achieves 41 mpg - the same fuel economy as the diminutive Smart, and since it's essentially the same Jetta you're leasing now, it seats five comfortably, has a huge trunk, and drives with all that German-engineered sportiness. As a bonus, the new Jetta won't have puppy puke stains all over the back seats like yours does.

So how does the same old Jetta suddenly get such phenomenal fuel economy? Well, it turns out that the Jetta TDI has a diesel engine under the hood. Maybe you've never thought of buying a diesel, but Volkswagen has sold almost 850,000 oil burners in the United States since the first diesel Rabbit clattered, chugged, and smoked its way out of a VW dealership in 1977. More diesel engines have found their way into Jettas than any other VW model, and although their availability has been somewhat inconsistent over the years, every successive diesel engine generation has become more refined and more powerful. The new Jetta TDI sips fuel with the same impressive restraint as the earliest diesel Jettas, despite outweighing them by more than half a ton and having almost three times the horsepower.

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