Jetta vs Civic vs TDI vs GTI

andregandreg Member Posts: 9
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
I’m looking at a few different cars, and would like some feedback from VW owners. Probably the top 2 on my list are the 07 Jetta Wolfsburg and the 07 Civic EX. I drove them both in the last couple of days and have to say I was a lot more impressed with the Jetta. I also have to say for an almost even 20 grand, the Wolfsburg edition is a very impressive value. But I’m hearing that VW’s are plagued with problems, and sites like Consumer Reports report engine and transmission issues on the 2.5, as well as worse than average reliability. Do any of you out there own a Jetta 2.5? Any problems? What kind of mpg are you getting?

Separately, I see the Jetta TDI is returning next spring. Will this be a new model, or just reintroduced in the States? I don’t like buying a car in its first year, and am regretting that I violated my own rule when I purchased my current Lexus IS 350. Anyway, back to the TDI, is it worth the price difference to buy this model over the 2.5? I’ve read some impressive stuff about the engine and also really like the mileage. But why don’t we get the same kind of mileage on a TDI that Europeans get? I was on the VW UK site today and see the Jetta TDI is averaging 53 mpg in mixed driving. I don’t see anyone here talking about that – more like mid 30’s.

The car that took me to the VW dealership in the first place is the GTI. I drove it and really liked it, especially since I’m definitely more of a sports car kind of guy – I’ve had 2 BMW 3-series, a Mini Cooper S, my current IS 350, and a BMW motorcycle thrown in for a little fun too, all in the last 8 years. I should probably mention I just bought my wife a BMW X3 last month too. Starting to see a trend?  I definitely like BMW’s and it would be very easy to go buy a 335, but I’m thinking of trying something less expensive for a while. So if there are any GTI owners out there, my concern about it is that it is a stiff ride, and the whole reason I got rid of my Mini is that it was beating me up on my freeway drives from San Diego to LA, which I do once/week. Does anyone out there have any idea of how the stiffness of the GTI compares to the Mini? I think I’d be a lot happier with the GTI over the Jetta because it’s sportier, but I don’t want to get beat up on with the stiffness. Any feedback on any of these issues is appreciated.

Thanks, Andre


  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    We have individual discussions on all of these vehicles which may give you a lot of the information you're looking for. You can use the Browse by Vehicle search on the left to find them, or drop me an email and I'll be glad to try to help you find anything you need.
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    Thanks Pat. I actually read a bunch of posts on the Jetta, which were very helpful. I was really hoping to hear back from either Jetta Wolfsburg or TDI owners. And it's always interesting to hear from real owners rather than "experts". I read a ton of posts on MSN from owners reviewing the Jetta and all loved it, whereas the "experts" only moderately liked it. I think the issue was because of the reliability of VW, hence my post to see what real owners were experiencing.

  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    We have a lot of "real owners" posting in the Jetta discussions here. ;) That's where you'll find them. They may or may not find this discussion, but we'll see. :)
  • caazcaaz Member Posts: 209
    My Next door neighbor has a TDI...i go in it with him all the time. It's as quiet as a regular jetta, much more plush than a Civic, And he always gets around 42 to 45 mpg on the freeway, City he gets around 37.He drives from Phoenix to Cal. every other week, Has never gotten under 42.

    As far as the BMW 335...what a machine...go drive one..Did you know the new one is faster than the M3?....its blistering fast and would be a kick to drive.

    P.S. he drives about 75 MPH with a/c on when he gets the 45 mpg
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the info caaz. I've found out the TDI will come back in Feb/Mar. That might be good timing depending on when I sell my current car (IS350).

    I'm very familiar with the 3 series - I've owned two of them - and BMW in general. I just bought my wife an X3, and in addition to the two 3-series I've owned, I've also had a Mini and a K-1200 motorcycle. They are great machines. I'm afraid to go drive the 335 because it would probably come home with me. :) I'd really like to try to down size my payment for a while, and if I could do that while I increased my mpg then all the better.
  • esteezeesteeze Member Posts: 102
    I've had an 06.5 Jetta TDI for the past 4 months, and I've really like it.

    About 80% of my driving is hilly urban commuting, and I get about 33MPG (better than the 21 MPG with the Honda CR-V I used to have). I've taken it on a couple of long distance interstate trips, and I've gotten upwards of 45MPG then.

    I have had zero problems with mine so far (knock on wood).
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the reply. I'm definitely leaning toward the TDI, unless I sell my current car before the TDI comes out. I appreciate the info. I've yet to hear anything negative from anyone who owns a Jetta - that speaks volumes about the car.

  • cz75cz75 Member Posts: 210
    Or they just haven't owned it long enough to have anything go wrong yet.
  • esteezeesteeze Member Posts: 102
    That very well could be the case for me... hopefully not.

    One thing that is very different about the TDI vs the Honda gassers I had been used to is that there is a very specific, hard to find oil that you have to use for your oil changes. It's also turbocharged, so the performance characteristics are different than that of a normally aspirated vehicle; there's not a lot of power from a stand still... but there is a whole lot once it's wound to about 1500 or 2000 RPM.
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    So are you saying there is the typical "turbo lag" we've all experienced? I had a supercharged Mini and I must say I grew tired of the turbo lag. They changed engines and got rid of that; I'm wondering if VW will have done the same with the '08 TDI? I haven't read about that...
  • esteezeesteeze Member Posts: 102
    Yes, I guess it's "typical"; I've only driven one other turbocharged vehicle, and it was about 15 years ago on a 4cyl Izuzu Impulse that I used to have, so my experience driving them is limited.

    My point is that its definitely different that what you would experience with a Civic or perhaps a GTI (can't remember if that one is turbocharged or not... if it is, it may be more similar). I think the diesel plant itself produces more torque at lower engine revs than a 4cyl gasser would (like a Civic).

    My recent experience is with a Honda CR-V and a Honda Civic, so those are what I tend to compare the Jetta TDI to.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    I have both: 2003 VW TDI with 100,000 miles, mpg range 44-62, Honda Civic with 54,000 miles, mpg range 36-42. Ask away. Longest R/T in the TDI was 7,000 miles. Longest R/T in the Civic was 1400 miles.
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the reply. I sold my car a few weeks back and bought an '08 Jetta SEL. If Honda had been dealing on the '08 Accords, I probably would have went with it. I really like the styling of the Accord, but I don't like paying sticker. I got the Jetta under invoice, so it was a no-brainer. And since I only keep cars for a couple years, it will give VW a chance to work out the issues with the TDI when it comes back, and Honda a chance to work out the issues with the Accord. So far, I'm very impressed with the Jetta. It was just such a value for the price, it was hard not to go with it. Aside from a speaker that has an occasional issue, and a drip coming from the bottom of my car, all is good. It runs well and seems to get better mileage the faster I go.
  • ruking1ruking1 Member Posts: 19,826
    Yes, for sure timing is everything! VW has been undergoing almost radical changes. I hope most to all of the changes are for the better. So truly if you change cars on a much more frequent basis, the VW Jetta has a 4year /50,000 miles. vs say a Honda Civic that has 3 year/36,000 miles warranty's. So the good/bad news is: you really want anything failing UNDER the warranty period/miles!!?? That being said however almost ALL oems and models are no brainers to 100,000 miles.

    VW has stepped up the quality, making the Jetta almost BMW- like. To a certain extent Jetta vs Accord/Camry are apples to oranges comparisons. The fact that the Honda Accord/Toyota Camry is now the apparent competition says volumes.

    As it affects consumers like you and me, I see it in terms of over 10 years/ 250,000 miles. My goals for the VW Jetta TDI are a minimum of 5 timing belt changes @100,000 miles intervals for a minimum of 500,000 miles to 1,000,000 miles. My goals for the Honda Civic are are a minimum of 4 timing belt changes @105,000 miles intervals for a minimum of 420,000 miles. These goals and of course time frames emphasizes way different aspects of quality.

    In living side by side with both, the Jetta TDI is almost head and shoulders above the Civic in quality.
  • climbonboardclimbonboard Member Posts: 9
    Two things I didn't see addressed in the ensuing discussion in this thread are:

    1) What happened to your Lexus IS350 that had you regretting your choice of getting a first model year IS350? (Perhaps that answer is best suited for another thread...)

    2) About your question on the discrepancy between European and American mpiles per gallon on the Jetta TDI. The gas mileage reported on European models is higher as they measure based on imperial gallons (which are approx. 4.546 litres) while we measure using American gallons (which are around 3.785 litres). See ment_systems for more details.

    So, 53 mpg in imperial gallons (often called driving the "European cycle") is equivalent to just over 44 American gallons.

    Cheers and good luck in your search!
    Eido Cohen
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for the reply. I actually have bought an '08 Jetta since I posted the original post. So far I'd have to say I'm pretty happy with it. I bought the SEL and am averaging 25-26 mpg. That calculation, by the way, is based on doing it manually as the computer is consistently 1-3 mpg off. I just took it to VW for a few minor issues and unfortunately that was something they couldn't fix. It's really such an easy calculation that it's disappointing it can't be fixed. You'd think that since the car knows how much gas is left in the tank, since it can tell you how many more miles you have left in the tank, that it could then calculate miles driven / gallons consumed. Oh well...

    To answer your question about my's basically a rule I have for "any" car. I waited for the 2nd or 3rd before I bought a Mini, and I was glad I did that since there were a lot of issues with the 1st year, such as the car mysteriously turning off while driving down the freeway! Yikes. My biggest complaint though with my IS was road noise. Even though I upgraded to the Mark Levinson sound system, and cranked it often, I constantly heard the tires. I called Lexus Customer Care and was told that indeed this was intentional. They wanted it to have more of a sporty sound/feel, and I guess this was their "poor" attempt at how to achieve it. They even said the IS250 had more sound insulation. I have no idea if they fixed this or not in the '07 or '08, but I suspect not. The reason I suspect not is that I just read a review of the LS460h and it was given poor ratings due to road noise. I guess Lexus is just trying to save some money, but it's a bad move. The other thing I didn't like about my IS, that has nothing to do with it being in its first year, is that it's expensive to service. First of all, you have to take it in every 5k miles. That's inconvenient. Next, an "oil change" will set you back $120. On my 25k service I was told I needed front brake pads. Between the brake pads and the 25k service, I walked out of the dealer $600 poorer. That's just too much money. In contrast, my BMW's I've owned, and currently own, require service about every 18k miles - and it's completely free. Why did I ever buy the IS??? :)
  • climbonboardclimbonboard Member Posts: 9
    Andre G.,
    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    Enjoy your new ride! I've crossed shopped almost every vehicle under $25,000 (optioned out) and the Jetta seems like the best bang for the buck (other than potential reliability issues). I'm probably going to lease one as to ameliorate the headache of reliability issues somewhat.

    I'm curious as to why you got the SEL; it doesn't seem to me like the best "bang for the buck" vs. the Jetta SE... BTW: Did the find a difference in the drive quality between the 205-55 16" tires (on the SE) and the 225-45 17" tires (on the SEL)? Do you find the seats to be comfortable with the leatherette? And, how do you like the quality of the Monsoon stereo system?
    BTW: What was your purchase price (before tax and TTL) and what options did you get?

    I just saw your previous post... Were they able to take care of your speaker issue and the under-body drip on your Jetta? What was the origin of the drip? How was like working with the VW service dept. at your dealership? Were they straightforward, arrogant, evasive...? How long did you wait, did you get a loaner, etc.?

    I hear what you're saying about first-model year issues. I was considering the 2008 Nissan Rogue, but then realized that it's not been tested by the IIHS (I take the NHTSA ratings with a grain of salt), and very little consumer review. Even if I get it on a 2 year lease, it might be a major headache if it has "hidden" problems. So, I appreciate your insight on the IS350.


    Eido Cohen
  • andregandreg Member Posts: 9
    I agree with you about the SEL not being the best bang for the buck. If you're solely interested in that, get a SE manual. $20k sticker for that car is pretty amazing. I opted for the SEL for 1 option only - the multi-function steering wheel. I'm so used to controlling the radio with the steering wheel controls that it was almost a no-brainer. But I did hesitate about the $2k difference between the SE and SEL. Ultimately, I'm glad I got the SEL. Not only do I like the multi-function steering wheel, but I think you get access to a few more controls with the multi-function that you otherwise might not have - but I'm not positive about that. Some of those features I'm referring to is the option to control both mirrors at the same time (instead of having to adjust each mirror separately, and programming the door locks so 1 or all open when you press the unlock on the key fob. But more than that, I like to be able to control, including mute, the stereo. I just wish the telephone button worked! Why does Canada get it but we don't? I don't get that one... I also REALLY like Sirius. I never listen to FM anymore. And I honestly think the stereo/speakers sound really good. Keep in mind that I came from a 300 watt 13 speaker Mark Levinson in my Lexus. I don't think the Jetta's is that much worse honestly. I too was a little concerned about the 17" vs 16" ride. I think if you drive them both back-to-back you'll feel the 17's are a little stiffer. But now I don't feel it - and the wheels/tires are really nice looking. I think it's worth the sacrifice in ride quality, but I don't feel any sacrifice now. Also, keep in mind I was coming from 18" on my IS and my wife also has 18" on her X3. I do like the leatherette seats a lot, especially with kids. Take a look at a Jetta, or any car, with cloth seats and look at all the fuzzballs on the seats. You won't find any with leatherette. And nobody does leatherette like the Germans. I had it in my first 3-series and was constantly amazed at it. Same with the Jetta. I think my purchase price was 23,600 if I remember correctly.

    The "oil" leak disappeared after I powerwashed the bottom of my car. Must not have been oil eh? :) The only thing I can think of that it might have been were ashes. I live in SoCal and there were a ton of ashes around here after the wildfires in October. I just took it in this week to get the speaker fixed and they couldn't reproduce it. Ahhh, why does that always happen. It is intermittent, but I'd been hearing it a lot prior to taking it in. I'm sure it will happen again soon, and I'll drive straight to the dealer and let them hear it if I'm close to it.

    Overall I'd have to say I was pretty unimpressed with the VW service. I waited several minutes before someone greeted me. They were pleasant when they greeted me, but it's not the same as at BMW or Lexus. But I'm not stupid either; I fully realize I'm in a $24k car and not a $45k car, so my expectations are slightly lowered. Then they didn't fix one thing I took it in for though. Granted all were minor nits, but I'm extremely picky. If VW has plans on selling as many cars as they do in the coming years, pick up any of the latest car rags to read about their plans, they need to become a little better at their service. One of my nits is that there is a lot of the transport tape on the roof of my car. It basically looks like a lot of tiny white specs. They scrape off with a fingernail, but I have better stuff to do with my time. They didn't get it off, so now I have to take it back in and let a detail person do it. Note to self: don't take delivery of a new car when it's nighttime. How many times have I told myself that? :) And no, no loaner. It's a VW, not a Lexus. Of course, I was indirectly paying for that Lexus loaner wasn't I?

    I could have shopped around and probably got an Accord in LA/Orange County for the same lease price as my Jetta, but the first year thing was in the back of my mind. My thought was get the Jetta, which by all accounts is a great little car, and let the Accord work their problems out. Or, let the BMW 135 work it problems out too. Who knows, maybe in 2 years the BMW 123d will be here? I know, keep dreaming.

    Good luck with your decision. By the way, I got the Electric Blue color and am very happy with it. I even got a compliment at the gas station last week about how nice it looks.

  • rmorin2rmorin2 Member Posts: 110
    My daughter, age 27, is leasing an 07 Jetta Wolfsburg DSG. She loves the car, traded an 02 Golf GLS auto. Jetta is a much nicer car. Ride is good, room is excellent, leatherette seats she really likes as she has a big dog. Trunkroom is amazing. She can fit her folded up dog carrier in the trunk without lowering the back seats and it is a huge carrier. In fact, I am so impressed with the VW that I am going to buy either a GTI or an R32 to replace my 05 MINI Cooper S Cabrio.
  • boyd82boyd82 Member Posts: 3
    I love our Civic. It has been completely reliable, MPG are great, and it's a sharp looking car. Our new Jetta, if reliability holds, beats the Civic, IMO, on every creature comfort front, however: seats, interior layout, gauges, and a host of little details that are missing on the comparably priced Civic LX. In addition, braking and acceleration are considerably better on the VW.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Member Posts: 9,731
    Of course you know that things like seat comfort, interior layout, and gauges are very subjective. :) I do find the Jetta to be a nice vehicle, but the engine, weight, and poor fuel economy were a turn off for me. My Accord was quicker, sounded better accelerating, roomier, as fun to drive (personal opinion of course ;)) and cost about the same as a Jetta when I was shopping a couple of years ago. Getting better fuel economy than the compact Jetta in my midsize Accord was a bonus (VW has since improved the 2.5L to have more power and better economy, but it still isn't as good as my Accord's). I'd have a hard time stepping back to a Civic OR a Jetta from my Accord, but at least the Civic has great mileage and a low price.

    I really want to like VW (I think their cars as a whole look great and are feature packed), but knowing too many reliability nightmares put me off from them.

    Birmingham's VW dealer is VERY well-known for being worthless in customer service, so that helps cross VW off my list for now, as well.
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