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TheStreet Open House

Testing America’s Best-Selling Diesel Car, the 42-MPG VW Jetta

Stocks in this article: VLKAYTMGMTSLA

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Volkswagen (VLKAY) ties Toyota (TM) and General Motors (GM) for being the world’s largest auto company with 10 million cars per year sold.  The Jetta is Volkswagen’s best-selling car world-wide, and in the U.S. Volkswagen dominates diesel sales by an extremely wide margin, some 70%+ of the total.

It is therefore only appropriate that we test the outgoing 2014 Volkswagen Jetta diesel, even though it is about to be replaced by a refreshed 2015 model that will also have a redesigned diesel engine. The car I drove for a week cost $25,545 plus tax.

At this price, the Jetta diesel includes, among other things, upgraded wheels, SiriusXM radio, leather steering wheel and fake leather seating where the driver’s seat is partially electrically adjustable. While that is good, at this price it also lacks a few important features.

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For example, you still have to stick the key into the ignition, the lamps are not automatic and there is no backup camera. The biggest failing is around the infotainment system.  I could not figure out how to set up Bluetooth connectivity to any smartphone, and when I plugged in a handful of smartphones into the hard-wire jack, I couldn’t figure out how to get any of them to work.

Perhaps I would have been able to figure it out if I had consulted the manual.  However, these things should be sufficiently easy to use so that one doesn’t have to consult a manual in order to avoid an “F” grade. The only thing I was able to operate on the sound system was the radio, including SiriusXM, which worked just fine.

The complete inability to get Bluetooth and the auxilliary jack to work were, fortunately, the only major drawback I found on this car. There are, of course, some minor blemishes.

The size of the car itself is between compact sedan, and mid-size sedan.  It is usually compared with the smaller sedans, but I find that it is very close to the market’s best-selling midsize sedans.

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The exterior styling is highly restrained.  Nobody will say it is ugly, but nobody will remember it either. Opening the doors, and closing the doors, you immediately start feeling the superior build quality.  It reminds you of a $40,000-$80,000 Mercedes, not a $25,000 standard sedan.

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