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."