2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI - Four Seasons Update - August 2009

Mileage to date: 23,801
Months in fleet: Ten

Sales of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI have been heating up of late - in both June and July, turbo-diesel engines were installed in an impressive 40 percent of Jetta sedans and 81 percent of Jetta SportWagens sold in the United States.

Unfortunately for our Four Seasons Jetta TDI, the ambient heat in June and July has revealed that the car's air-conditioning isn't nearly as strong as it should be. During a drive to the East Coast, intern Jeff Jablansky noted: "The A/C doesn't blow cold air, which would have been helpful on this 95-degree day at the beach in Rhode Island."

Jablansky cooled off after he delivered the car to senior editor Joe Lorio in New York. It didn't take for Lorio long to comment on the car's subpar A/C. "Temps today are in the mid-80s with plenty of humidity," Lorio typed in the Jetta's notebook, "and the Jetta's air-conditioning can't take it. It's cool, but not cold. No self-respecting American car would ever leave the factory with this weak A/C. Say what you want about American cars, but one thing they do better than anyone else is air-conditioning. Even the cheapest domestic car will freeze the interior to the point where you could hang meat."

Lorio also promptly critiqued the Jetta's powertrain. "OK, I hate this clutch," he wrote, echoing the comments of other staff members. "Or ... maybe what I hate is the interplay between the no-feel clutch pedal and the engine that's slow to respond to initial accelerator-pedal inputs, because I don't remember hating the clutch in the 2.5-liter gasoline-powered Jetta SportWagen that I drove a while ago. But I stalled the Jetta TDI three times on my first day driving it, and the only reason I've stopped is that every time I move off from a stop, I'm revving the crap out of the engine and riding the clutch like a teenager. My number-one piece of advice to any would-be TDI owner: Get the DSG automatic."

Still, Mr. Lorio is generally a fan of the turbo-diesel engine itself: "The Jetta's arrival in NY couldn't be better timed. For the past year, diesel prices in my area of Westchester County have been as much as $1/gallon more than premium, which means they approached $5/gallon last summer. Just the other day, I noticed diesel selling for the same price as regular. Quite a difference."

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That is odd to me. I have a 2009 Jetta TDI sedan and have been very pleased with the A/C. It does an excellent job of cooling the car . We have had 90 to 94 degree heat the last few days and I have had no problems. I set it at the lowest temperature and the fan setting to 3 to begin and then am able to adjust it up to around 72 degrees and fan setting to 2 or 1 and be comfortable. I find the best vent setting to be about 2 or 3 o'clock. My wife has also been very happy with how the A/C works. I agree that it does not seem to blast out the air, as some cars I have owned do, but it works very well.I come from a 2007 BMW 328XI and I the Jetta is not as buttoned down, but much prefer the overall ride/handling combination of the Jetta, especially the way the steering tracks without corrections.

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