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Jetta TDI vs. Civic Hybrid

tom21769tom21769 Posts: 63
edited March 2014 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: 30,564
    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: 12,695
    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: 720
    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: 12,695
    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: 30,564
    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: 30,564
    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 ?
  • vwinvavwinva Posts: 71
    Hybrid has same service requirements as standard Civic. Oil change 3K, tune-up 15K, Major service 30K. Keeping to the schedule is important in order to maintain fuel efficiency.

    Battery. Over time any battery will loose its capacity to recharge. By 100K the battery pack hits the inflection point where its ability to take and hold a charge drops. The battery pack is what gives you the 50+ mpg since this is where the charge from the regenerative braking is stored. With a weaker battery fuel economy will go down since more of the load will be thrown on the gas engine.
  • ""I can speak from both sides. I drive an 02 Jetta TDI, the other half drives an 03 Civic Hybrid. ""

    Manuals? Both?

    ""MPG: I get low 40s driving 85mi/day, she gets low 50s doing 100mi/day.""

    I'm a bit surprised at how good the Civic Hybrid is above. COuld you be more precise? What is the Cumulative MPG on the Civic's Computer? (Lifetime MPG)? (Eg. 48.7 mpg) I was expecting less than 45. And would you call her commute pure highway. or what mix of city and highway? or empty country road driving at 50 mph?

    Then, if you have the same number for the TDI, use the avarage fuel prices for each (very different, diesel is far cheaper than even regular in most states),

    And find the true average Operating, fuel cost in $/mile, or miles/$, foe each car.

    " MAINT: TDI saves me as much on maintainance as it does on fuel. "

    And don''t forget the longevity of the diesel.

    ""Oil chg every 10K, filters every 40K, belt at 80K. Honda requires a service - dealer - every 3000mi.""

    How much do they charge for each such 3k service?

    ""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. ""

    Actually VA has some of thw lowest gas prices in the Nation, as you can see from the AAA Fuelgauge site, go to the state by state page.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    charges $32.95 for the 3K service (oil and filter change, fluids top-off) and started recommending 5K intervals for this minor service several years ago. I am surprised if the HCH's manual recommends 3K intervals for this, as I thought most Hondas were now on a 5000/7500-mile interval, depending on use.

    Sounds like, given those (broad) real-world mileage numbers above, the HCH driver is saving about $5 per week over driving the TDI. Is $250/year enough to pay for the extra maintenance the Honda requires? I would think so - the Honda gets one of those big 30K services that costs $300-400.

    Do the VW's oil changes require synthetic oil at twice the price of the Honda's dyno oil changes? Or does the Honda's 0W-20 oil cost so much from Honda as to eliminate that cost savings?

    I will certainly wait to see, and this pair would be a PERFECT test duo, but I would be surprised if the Honda needs an entirely new battery pack at 100K. More likely, its fuel economy advantage over the TDI will slip a bit, and I would love to know how much. I bet it will still be ahead.

    Incidentally, vwinva, have you and your spouse ever tried switching cars for a week to see how the fuel economy changes? Perhaps an average differential could be computed if so.

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

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    Actually Honda says 10,000 mile oil changes for non-severe usage, more often if "severe" conditions apply. Nowhere do they say 3000 miles.

    Tune ups at 105,000 miles not that there is much to "tune up" anymore.
  • vwinvavwinva Posts: 71
    To answer some of the questions:

    Transmission: Jetta is automatic, Civic is stick. Jetta stick would get high 40s.

    Driving mix: Jetta 70% Interstate, 30% local Hybrid: 80/20.

    Civic MPG: Consistently above 50MPG. Suspect this is a combination of cruise control and efficient recharging coming down off the hills. Civic uses 87 Octane.

    Jetta oil: 5W40 synthetic. Meets the VW 505.2 spec. Can get it at Wal-Mart.

    Fuel price: As of 6/21 40 Cetane Diesel was $1.699/gal, 87 Octane was $1.919/gal at the Shell I buy from.

    Additives: I use 4oz of Powerservice's Diesel Kleen + Cetane Boost with each tank. Separates water in the fuel, cleans injectors. and delays ignition. Have run tank tests with/without. Recovers 90% of the cost of the additive from improved fuel economy. Can get it at Wal-Mart.
    Hybrid uses straight 87 octane from Shell.

    DIY maintainance: Have changed oil, air & fuel filters, rotated tires, cleaned the snorkle (lead in to air filter)myself. Not difficult though tedious since VW put covers under and over the engine that have to be taken off and put back on every time. Will leave the timing belt to a mechanic. Hybrid goes to dealer since it is still under warranty.

    Equipment failures: none

    Modifications: Civic is stock. Jetta has had ECU upgraded to Upsolute chip. More HP, More Torque. $325. With mod. the Jetta accelerates like a Gas 4. If it keeps me from being rear-ended once on the Interstate, it's paid for itself.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,858
    TDI requires VW 505.01 oil for the PD TDI (2004-2005) and for 1996-2003 TDI VW 505.00 oil is required. Have no idea how you arrived at the 505.2 number as it is not applicable for TDI and I don't believe it is even a VW oil spec.
    For the 1996-2003 TDI you can also go by API ratings. CH-4, CG-4, or CI-4. 5W-40 is preferred and 5W-30 may be used. If you use the API rating make sure you obtain a full synthetic.
  • oldboyoldboy Posts: 59
    Moparbad makes a good point. If you have a new VW TDI, be absolutely sure that you use 505.01 oil. VW says it is critical, even puts a sticker on the engine, and will deny warranty coverage if there is damage from using the wrong oil. There is 505.01 Castrol oil that is only available from your VW dealer, but at high prices. If you have your oil changes done at the dealer, be sure that your service tech. does not put in cheaper oil, as some have done! Motul has the 505.01 oil (imported), and it is available on the internet, if you want to do your own oil changes. Accept no substitutes!
  • vwinvavwinva Posts: 71
    1. Oil: Spec is 505. Alzheimers....
    2. Towing: Towed an open-top trailer filled with brush this weekend. Jetta lost 10mpg when towing. Acceleration poor but no other noticeable driving problems while towing.
    3. A/C: Hybrid does not take a hit when running A/C. Surprised but true. Jetta looses @ 2mpg. Both get the cabin cool and keep that way quickly.
    4. Noise: Hybrid is very quiet. Engine shut-down at a stop can spook you until you get used to it. Jetta is a diesel and you know it.
    5. MPG impact of chipping the ECU: None. Upsolute says on their website that MPG can increase or decrease 10% depending on car and driving style.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    By popular demand, we've created a separate discussion for the Jetta TDI. Join us at VW Jetta TDI to talk about the diesel version of this sedan. You don't really have to own one to participate, an interest in the subject will gain you admission! ;)

    Pat, Sedans Host
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