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Jetta TDI vs. Civic Hybrid

tom21769tom21769 Posts: 63
edited March 21 in Honda
My short list is down to a Jetta TDI wagon or the Civic Hybrid.
I'm leaning toward the Jetta, primarily for these reasons:
  1) more fun to drive
  2) available as a wagon
  3) diesel technology has a proven track record, hybrid does not.
  4) locally available with manual transmission (which seems to be even harder to find in the Hybrid)
  5) better safety features (head curtain air bags, ESP skid protection with brake-assist)
  6) nicer interior (except for cramped rear leg room)

Big plusses for the Hybrid include:
  1) cleaner emissions (though the TDI probably will narrow the gap as low-suphur diesel and biodiesel become more available; I can get biodiesel delivered to my home in bulk)
  2) better reliability, at least until the batteries wear out
  3) sales tax-free in Maryland through June 30
  4) no trouble finding fuel (though this does not seem to be a huge issue for my area)

Total price-to-purchase is very close for the 2 cars; fuel mileage is similar (probably with a real-world advantage for the Jetta in mostly highway driving); both get good safety ratings for their class. So I tend to weight subjective factors ("fun to drive") fairly heavily. And, since I live in farm country, biodiesel has a little extra appeal to me.

Anyone care to add or take issue with anything?


  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    I think you have done good research. I would lean to the Jetta for the wagon's extra room. I would also get the bumper to bumper extended warranty. Although I believe VW is now 4 years 50k miles standard warranty. Have you talked to anyone that has tried the bio-diesel in a TDI? I would be curious as to how well it performs. Good luck with your purchase.
  • pusterracingpusterracing Posts: 186
    "...I believe VW is now 4 years 50k miles standard warranty."


    Basic Warranty 4yr/50K
    Drivetrain 5yr/60k
    Roadside 4yr/50K
    Rust 12yr/unlimited

    I have never tried Bio-Diesel in mine so I can't answer that question. I have been extremely pleased with the mileage I have received from my car and the drivability of the car. My only complaint is the rear leg room, but then again my kids are 3 and 2, so they have little legs. I also know that Hybrid owners have been real pleased with their cars as well.

    My suggestion....take a 24hour drive (if Honda will let you do that...I know VW will let you take one home overnight to test) in each of them back to back.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    you can drive the hybrid in the carpool lane, not the TDI. Of course, if you are genuinely rural where you live, then you probably don't care about that!

    I read an article where someone was running biodiesel all the time in their VW TDI, with good results. Funnily enough, the cost in dollars was not much less than buying regular diesel from the gas station, but of course the emissions are WAY less.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tom21769tom21769 Posts: 63
    I'm rural enough that I don't care too much about being able to drive in the carpool lanes.
    Nice to know about this, though.

    In our area, petro diesel has been running about $1.75/gallon. Soy biodiesel (available in a neighboring county) is offered as follows:

    At the pump
    B2 - $1.75/gallon
    B100 - $2.799/ gallon
    Bulk delivery
    B20 (on road use) - $2.159/gallon
    B100 (on road use) - $3.199/gallon

    As for the emissions, a study I read last night indicated that, in general, emissions are indeed way less for biodiesel than for petro diesel. However, for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), it appears they actually INcrease a bit with biodiesel. Better technologies (fuel side or car side) can further improve diesel emissions, whether we're talking about bio or petro varieties.

    I think it is a shame (shameful, even) that these technologies are not widely available here, as they are in Europe. For my money, diesel technologies (encompassing new European engine designs, biodiesel, and low sulphur petro diesel) are perhaps this country's best hope for greater energy independence and cleaner air. It is quite amazing that these possibilities are hardly registering on the political radar screen, when we could be driving longer-lasting engines, polluting less, and importing less foreign oil (all with technologies available now and suitable for cars both large and small).
  • pusterracingpusterracing Posts: 186
    "you can drive the hybrid in the carpool lane, not the TDI"

    This statement baffles me. I drive my TDI in carpool lanes all the time (provided I have the minimum # of people in my vehicle). There is nothing that says you cannot drive diesel vehicles in the carpool lane.

    If you are speaking of having 4 people in a Jetta, that is quite easy to do. The rear legroom is a bit cramped for 6' adults ,but it is not so uncomfortable that it is impossible. It is done all of the time. The Jettas rear seat/legroom is comparable to that of the Civic.

    I still think the best way to compare them for buying is to keep them overnight back to back. Drive them and get a feel for them. I think fuel mielage will be comparable, so it is a question of emissions (which with your biodiesel should help the TDI become less poluntant) if that is important, room (wagon vs sedan), and "drivability".

    Oh, and yea, enjoy the tests.
  • djasonwdjasonw Posts: 624
    I think he meant with ONE passenger in a hybrid.
  • pusterracingpusterracing Posts: 186
    Was not aware that you could do that in a Hybrid...haven't heard that one. The vehicle with a single passenger that I knew you could use in a HOV was a motorcycle. Interesting.....tuck that little fact into the back of my brain. :)
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    in the hybrid vehicle population in Northern Virginia in recent months, usually traveling the HOV lane with only one person aboard. I fail to understand how a (perhaps) 45 passenger mile/gallon hybrid is a greater public benefit than, say a 60-90(or better) passenger mile/gallon conventional car (3people @ 20-30mpg), not to mention the congestion/parking issues.
  • djasonwdjasonw Posts: 624
    Makes sense, but absent carpooling they want to give people an incentive to buy fuel efficent cars. I think that anything that gets over 40 MPG should be allowed to use the carpool lanes with a single passenger. Maybe a special sticker in the windshield would suffice.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    the HOV benefit was originally offered to get people into electric vehicles, but when they flopped, they made the rule for hybrids as well in the same vein.

    And yes, I meant solo driving in the HOV lane.

    tom: at the level that NOx emissions are in general, it is probably a net benefit that biodiesel reduces particulate spewing as much as it does, even if it marginally increases NOx emissions.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Would it void the drivetrain warrenty? Does VW user manual say that you can officially use biodiesel?

  • " I fail to understand how a (perhaps) 45 passenger mile/gallon hybrid is a greater public benefit than, say a 60-90(or better) passenger mile/gallon conventional car (3people @ 20-30mpg), not to mention the congestion/parking issues. "

    Think green. A combination of higher fuel economy and lower emission is the key. To my knowledge, Focus PZEV and Camry PZEV do not qualify for HOV lanes. Offering just lower emssion nor high fuel economy will not cut into the HOV lane. You'll need both.

  • oldboyoldboy Posts: 59
    According to what I have read elsewhere, Volkswagen does not officially approve of biodiesel fuel available here in the USA, but they do accept it in Europe. My understanding is that there is no acceptable standards in force here yet for biodiesel. Therefore if it should cause trouble, the user would likely be on his own. Given the lousy diesel fuel that we have here, it is a wonder to me that Volkswagen accepts that!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    I don't see any advantage to the car pool lane here in CA. The one between San Diego and Los Angeles has limited entry and exit. Invariably I get behind someone that is not going to exceed 55 mph, probably trying to squeeze every last mile out of his engine. It can be several miles before you can exit the lane. No real advantage when the flow of traffic is 70-75 mph most of the way. Just my experience.
  • djasonwdjasonw Posts: 624
    Same thing on Long Island. You get one shmuck going 60 in the exclusive carpool lane (off hours) and the rest of the traffic is cruising at 65-75. Drives me NUTS!
  • bd21bd21 Posts: 437
    In Virginia, effective next month hybrids will no longer have the benefit of using the HOV with less than 3 people in the car. Now hybrids will be treated just like all other cars. It was nice while it lasted. I guess we will have to see if all other state that offer that benefit will follow suit.
  • tom21769tom21769 Posts: 63
    That's interesting (about Virginia).
    In Maryland, too, the tax holiday on Energy Star products (including Hybrid vehicles) ends after June 30.
    After that, you no longer can buy your Hybrid vehicle free of state sales tax in Maryland.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,678
    The better fuel mileage and good feeling you get by helping clean our air should be subsidy enough.
  • vwinvavwinva Posts: 71
    I can speak from both sides. I drive an 02 Jetta TDI, the other half drives an 03 Civic Hybrid. MPG: I get low 40s driving 85mi/day, she gets low 50s doing 100mi/day. MAINT: TDI saves me as much on maintainance as it does on fuel. Oil chg every 10K, filters every 40K, belt at 80K. Honda requires a service - dealer - every 3000mi. DRIVING: Civic accelerates better. Other than that, par between the two. Couple of items I would note a) the battery pack in the Hybrid needs to be changed at 100K. Estimated cost @$1500. b) TDI can be rigged to tow a trailer.
    BTW - 40 cetane diesel is selling for $.25/gal less than 87 octane gas in VA.
  • rfruthrfruth Posts: 630
    Good comparison thanks, couple questions

    what service does the Civic need every 3000 mi ?

    what happens if the battery pack isn't changed at 100K ?
This discussion has been closed.