Maybe I'm just slow on the uptake, but Volkswagens are much nicer cars than I thought. The VWs of my youth were affordable little cars for hippies and folks who couldn't afford anything nicer. They were loud and smoky and good only as an excuse for punching my little brother in "Slug Bug." The 2008 Jetta makes all of that a vague, distant memory.
This Jetta is luxurious. It's a pleasure to drive. It's downright posh. The 2008 Jetta boasts all the features and luxury of a car twice the price. We've got smooth leather seats. We've got a primo sound system with a six-CD changer and Sirius Satellite Radio. We've got navigation. We've got keyless entry. We've got spiffy alloy wheels. We've got a sunroof with not a crank wheel in sight. And yes, we've got seat heaters for a warm tush. That's a lot of stuff, right? Well, we're not through. Miraculously, the Jetta manages to have all this and still be affordable.
Driving the Jetta is just plain fun. If you have to spend as much time in a vehicle as most moms do, a car that's actually fun to drive can be the difference between "nice mommy" and "mean mommy." You know what I mean; the mommy who is willing to sit on the floor through five games of Candyland or the one who gives her self a "time-out" for the afternoon. The Jetta is sporty and quick and way cuter than most cars I get to drive. It feels like wearing a racy little dress around town instead of my usual velour sweats. Gotta like that.
The eight-way power seat glides easily and smoothly into position. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes to where I like it and I have a great view of the road ahead. Just as important, my kids can get themselves settled easily. The rear doors and seatbelts are no problem for little folks to manage and the seats hold a booster in place with very little sliding around. A fold-down armrest in the back has two cupholders and provides a clear division of territory. On the down side, the rear seat only fits two booster seats. A third child (large enough to sit without a child safety restraint) sits somewhat squished in the center seat. It would be fine for short rides around town, but on an hourlong trip into the city, there was a whole lot of "she's leaning on me!" going on. I wouldn't want to put more than two kids back there on a daily basis. Not if I want "nice mommy" to stick around.
In the Jetta, there is tons of room is the trunk. My kids are out of the stroller these days, but even if they weren't, there is plenty of room to stow any and everything a family needs. The Jetta swallowed our cart full of groceries and had room left for a couple of massive bags of dog food. This isn't the sort of car that demands a trip home to unload between errands, which is good, because I rarely have that sort of time. Of course, there is a pass-through in the back seat for skis and such, but the rear seats also split 60/40 and fold down when you need the extra space. Just in case, the front passenger seat folds flat as well. That kind of flexibility doesn't usually come in a budget-friendly sedan package, but the Jetta makes it all happen.
Volkswagen didn't skimp on the safety features, either. The Jetta comes standard with six airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and that nifty traction control system to help with slippery roads. Super-strong door beams protect passengers in the event of a collision and super sensitive windows protect little fingers from pinches. It's nice to know that the good folks at VW are thinking about their littlest passengers.
I wonder what they're thinking with their iPod adapter, though. I mean, the stereo comes with a nifty auxiliary plug for any MP3 player, but in my test car, a dock in the center console replaced it. Nifty idea, but it's really hard to use. Once the iPod was docked, I couldn't move between playlists or view any of the song information. This unfortunately eliminated all the coolness of the iPod.
Besides that, the Jetta has plenty of coolness of it's own. With load of options and plenty of comfort for four, it's a family friendly sedan in a posh little package.
*For more information on the 2008 Volkswagen Jetta and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
2008 Volkswagen Jetta
Base price: $ 16,990
Price as tested: $ 21,674
Engine: 170-hp, 2.5-liter
Fuel: 21/29 mpg
Ground Clearance: 5.4"
Turning Radius: 35.8 ft
Cargo space: 16 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: 4 Stars
Passenger's side: 4 Stars
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars