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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

Life in the Semi-fast Lane

The Jetta began its life as a spin-off of the popular Volkswagen Rabbit. It had a strong appeal to American drivers who preferred the security of a lockable trunk to the vulnerability of a large glass hatch. Affordability also made the Jetta popular with Americans who preferred to buy European. Because manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW imported only their high-end sedans, the Jetta's low price left it without rival; a distinction it still holds today.

The Jetta line is composed of two models—a sedan and wagon—and three trim levels: GL, GLS and GLX. Powerplant options include a 2.0-liter gas engine rated at 115 hp, a 1.8-liter turbo-charged gas engine rated at 180 hp, a 1.9-liter TDI diesel rated at 90 hp (with a highway fuel rating of 45 mpg) and finally a 2.8-liter VR6 rated at 174 hp. Oh, and lest we forget, there are three transmission choices: a 5-speed manual, a 4-speed automatic and—on 1.8T and VR6 models—a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic.

All Jettas share the same wheelbase and interior dimensions; they also share the same basic suspension setup, with minor variations to the springs and shock settings. The Jetta has a roomy trunk with a low lift-over that allows large or heavy items to be loaded or removed with ease; a split-folding rear seatback further increases the Jetta's cargo carrying ability. Legroom is good for front occupants but a bit tight for the rear, especially when someone tall occupies the front seat.

The seats themselves are generally comfortable, with separate adjustments for height, recline and headrest angle; on GLS models, they include adjustable lumbar support for both driver and passenger. GLX models have power adjustable seats with a driver's memory feature. The seats in the sport models have increased lateral bolstering and more thigh support to help hold you in place during spirited drives.

The Jetta's numerous engine choices really determine the character of the car. With the base 2.0-liter engine, the Jetta is a comfortable, affordable transportation device that is just fine for daily drives and weekends escapes. The 1.9-liter TDI (turbo direct injection) diesel turns the Jetta into a super-efficient transport device with excellent fuel economy ratings and more torque than the larger 2.0-liter gas engine. In our experience, the TDI felt quicker and provided more power for passing and accelerating than the 2.0-liter engine; it also adds about $1000 to the bottom line. Finally, there is the performance Jetta, the one with the big wheels and tires and choice of two powerful engines. The 1.8T (turbo) is almost as powerful as the top-of-the-line VR6 (narrow angle V6) yet sips fuel like the base engine. VW says there is a new, multi-valve 200-horsepower VR6 scheduled to arrive by mid year. The VR6 does provide more low-end torque and does not suffer from turbo-lag (the time it takes for the turbo to spool up, resulting in slow off-the-line performance) but it also is estimated at 19 mpg in city driving.

What can you expect from the Jetta once on the road? For starters, you can count on a smooth, quiet ride. You can also count on accurate steering, excellent brakes and good visibility all around. The Jetta, at least in its base form, is tuned more for comfort than spirited driving and you may find that it tends to lean hard in sharp turns. An optional sport package provides stiffer springs and shocks, which greatly minimizes body roll without sacrificing ride comfort.

The Jetta's value story continues with its high level of standard equipment. The base Jetta comes with air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with cassette, dual side airbags and side-airbag curtain, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote fuel door release and a tachometer. GLS models add one-touch up/down power windows, remote alarm system, selective locking and unlocking via remote key fob or with key in door, upgraded audio with CD, dual heated power mirrors and much more. Leather seats, a power glass moonroof, upgraded wheels, a sport suspension package and the Monsoon sound system are but a few of the options you can chose to further enhance your Jetta.

The bottom line on the Jetta is that it offers the consumer a quality-built, German engineered car with terrific attention to detail and a standard equipment list that equals cars costing thousands of dollars more. If ever there was a "people's car" for the 21st century, this is it.

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