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The Jetta sedan emerged from its 2011 redesign as something altogether more humdrum than the compact, agile and tautly-sprung European car it had been. The cabin is roomier and the trunk is huge, but handling fell short on agility and cornering grip. Interior quality, formerly impeccable, was subpar. The hoary 170-hp, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine carried over.
Alerts
There are 6 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
2004
2005
NA
2006
2007
NA
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
NA
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
NA
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags standard, available in rear from 2006. Head protection air bags standard from 2001. ESC available in 2003, standard from 2009.
Road Test

The Jetta sedan emerged from its 2011 redesign as something altogether more humdrum than the compact, agile and tautly-sprung European car it had been. The cabin is roomier and the trunk is huge, but handling fell short on agility and cornering grip. Interior quality, formerly impeccable, was subpar. The hoary 170-hp, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine carried over. While it delivers adequate performance, it sounds coarse and fuel economy is just OK for a small sedan. The gasoline-powered Jetta scored rather low in our testing.

Adding the TDI diesel engine to the Jetta makes it a more appealing car. Fuel economy jumps from 25 mpg with the gasoline engine to 34 with the diesel with acceleration times remaining similar to the gasoline model. However, the DSG transmission combined with the diesel doesn't shift smoothly at low speeds. The TDI version is also better equipped. But while the TDI scored better than the less-expensive SE, it still suffers from the Jetta's shortcomings of so-so handling and interior quality.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 6-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Sequential
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2-liter 4 turbodiesel (140 hp)
  • 2-liter 4 turbo (200 hp)
  • 2-liter 4 (115 hp)
  • 2.5-liter 5 (170 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Volkswagen Jetta owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

“Replaced both headlight bulbs twice in less than a year”

Anonymous, NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Since owning the car I've replaced each headlight at least 3 times”

Julius F., NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Headlights have burned out more than once over last year”

Christopher M., IL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Had to replace a headlight module Very expensive”

Anonymous, FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Driver's Side bulb burns out every 6000 miles”

Anonymous, FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“High beam switch doesn't work, over $300 to fix”

Richard L., NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Lock/Unlocking without pressing remote control”

Anonymous, FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Sometimes the keyless entry doesn't work”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Warning lights

“Warning lights that lights were out on car somewhere came on intermittently, but the all the lights were working. Eventually I had the mechanic check deeper into it and replacing 4 lights did the trick”

Julie B., CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL 2.0-L 4 Cyl)
Wiper motor or washer

“Just after 100000 miles the driver side wiper motor suddenly began making a grinding noise”

Julius F., NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Washer didn't work, but vw doesn't tell you in any way what fuse is for the washer. I had to piad the dealer to replace the fuse.???”

Richard L., NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Cruise control

“The switch control that is part of the or in the directional signal arm was bad and had to be replaced”

Anonymous, NV (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

“rear trunk light (on outside) always going out and coming back on (also shows warning light). dealer has tried to fix many times and no success”

Jameson S., CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“License plate lights failure, needed replacement of module”

Rick D., ON (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Horn

“Had to replace expensive clock spring to correct this problem”

Anonymous, FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Emission control devices (includes EGR)

“This is a TDI Dieselgate issue”

Anonymous, ON (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Cheat device on VW deisel cars”

Anonymous, ON (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Unsure)

“Check engine light came on at about 40k miles. Dealer couldn't find any issue. Now it's on again at 56k miles and needs new EGR valve”

Noel B., GA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Fuel injection system

“had to clean injectors due to carbon build up”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“After having routine service the car stopped running. The entire fuel injection system, fuel lines and pump had to be replaced. Under warranty”

Ray F., AZ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

“I think it was a particulate sensor. Anyway, it was $600”

Anonymous, NY (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Check engine light came on. Diagnostics indicated a bad secondary O2 sensor (after catalytic converter). Despite clearing the codes twice, the check engine light continued to come on”

James V., MA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Fuel pump

“Also part of the catastrophic failure of the fuel system”

Ray F., AZ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Low pressure pump died”

Don G., IN (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“The fuel filter and pump became clogged from using diesel that was not Ultra Low Sulfur (not easy to find). Car was undriveable but was replace under 80000 drive train warranty”

Anonymous, CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“HPFP Failure. Covered under warranty”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Fuel pump in the tank failed which caused me to be without a vehicle for 48 hours. Covered by warranty”

Anonymous, WA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“High pressure fuel pump failed. Replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, CO (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Fuel pump system failure. Required replacement that was performed at no charge by the dealer when they determined that the failure was not caused by fueling with gasoline. Our family was quite pleased by VW response as the mileage placed the car out”

Michael M., MA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

“Car was not cooling adequately. AC compressor was replaced under warranty on the first visit for this problem”

Joel T., FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Air conditioning is just terrible. Doesn't work very well at all, but is apparently working correctly per the dealership”

Dennis W., MI (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Compressor failed twice - replaced under warranty in 1 day or less both times. Very satisfied with the repairs”

Frank B., TX (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“failed”

Michael S., AZ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SEL 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Wouldn't cool. Issue covered by a TSB and under warranty”

Anonymous, TX (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Needed replacement at 96K, but covered under extended warranty. Otherwise a great car”

Anonymous, NC (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“I don't know the specifics of the problem but tie A/C wasn't producing enough cool air so whatever was done to repair the problem has not happened since!”

Anonymous, NV (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)
Refrigerant leaks

“system needed new refrigerant "recharge"”

Bell K., NY (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Calipers

“Electrical fault in the calipers rendered the car inoperative”

Don G., CO (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Parking brake

“In my opinion Volkswagens don't do well in extreme cold. The brake system on the rear passenger tire completely froze up. The winters here in Northern Indiana can be pretty harsh. I wasn't sure whether to say parking brake or brake system...as the car is a manual, the parking brake was on at the time it froze up. The car had not been sitting in the cold long. Maybe a day or two”

Anonymous, IN (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.0-L 4 Cyl)
Squeaking

“Squeaking front brakes”

Don M., NY (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Rear brakes now squeak (after replacement) when going backward and braking?”

Yves G., NS (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
Premature brake wear

“excessive rusting on brake discs. I park car outside on the street in cold snowy climate. Dealer says I don't drive enough to remove built up rust but I've replaced rear brakes twice and front brakes one time.I am now trying coated discs,”

George H., QC (2012 Volkswagen Jetta Unsure 2.0-L 4 Cyl)
Rotors

“Rotors got a lot of rust on both front and back rotor. Had to replace the back rotor and pads. VW did charge parts, but not labor. Or the other way around?”

Yves G., NS (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

“Front brakes squeak”

Don M., NY (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“dash rattle”

Jim H., TX (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Minor issues in winter with squeaks with dash unit”

Chris M., ON (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Rear speakers rattled loose”

Jay B., CO (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“The rear windows allow wind noise”

Andrew L., CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

“CD Changer without warning suddenly would not load a CD into the unit. Shows error internal error. This seemed to be when one of my spouses had malware on their phone and their phone was also paired with the car”

James T., FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Since the car was new the Bluetooth has intermittingly dropped called etc. We have had it back at the dealer at least 3 times They cant fix it”

David B., CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.0-L 4 Cyl)

“Sometimes does not recognize my phone Phonebook doesn't always load Speech recognition for who I am trying to call is terrible and these are fairly simple names. Will often say they cannot find the contact I am looking for when I know they're in”

Karen R., ON (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

“The GPS seems to lose track often and the car icon drifts off the road for a little while, then regains track. This process repeats over and over”

Chris M., CA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Engine harness

“Auto would not shift out of 2nd gear”

Anonymous, NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Just after yearly maintenance on TDI, engine lost power and could not maintain highway speed. Took car immediately to dealer (Lindsay VW in Sterling, VA) and found out the engine cowling was not replaced correctly affecting wire harness causing engin”

Michael H., VA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

“Not sure if this is what you want...but the engine would not shut off”

Anonymous, PA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

“Carbon builder up on valves necessitated an engine rebuild at 50,000 miles. Mechanics told us this was typical for this year range”

Don G., CO (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Cylinder head

“The problem was related to the injectors. I have always used high octane gas. VW said it must not have been from a reputable supplier”

Anonymous, PA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Turbo or supercharger

“Poorly designed valve on turbo...had to be replaced with a newer design”

Anonymous, AE (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Tailgate, hatch or trunk

“Rear hatch latch stopped latching while out on errands”

Anonymous, UT (2012 Volkswagen Jetta S 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

“Trunk Lid Fails to Stay Open and Routinely Falls closed due to insufficient force holding it open”

James T., FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Oil leaks

“Car oil gasket started leaking minimally and found during a normal service. Repair is $1500 to be done. Waiting a bit longer before this is done”

James T., FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)
Difficult to fill up gas tank

“Diesel fuel foams easily and I must fill slowly or the pump will shut down before tank is filled. This problem exacerbated after safety recall that replace fuel filler pipe. Some gas stations worse than others since pump velocity is too high”

Michael H., VA (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Wheel balance

“Rust buildup on brake discs (car is parked outside) caused vibration, imbalance”

Christopher M., IL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)
Springs or torsion bars

“Rear suspension makes horrible noise when standing on pitched surface. Car performs well, but the noise is annoying. Tech's swear everything is as designed when they put it on a lift”

Anonymous, NJ (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

“door seals on car seem to easily detach from vehicle. They are easy to put back in place, but annoying”

James T., FL (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Rough shifting

“There are times when the car lurches repeatedly in slower speeds. Accelerating from a stop light or turning a corner it will hesitate sufficiently to cause a stop in traffic. This is inconsistent but happens frequently. I would like to talk to you”

Twila F., KS (2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI 2.0-L 4 Cyl diesel)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Clutch replacement

“Clurch was engaging increasingly up the pedal travel. Dealer recommended replacement. This seems to be excessive wear. Other vehicles have gone 150000-200000miles without excessive clutch wear”

Anonymous, NM (2012 Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5-L 5 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

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