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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Sep 1, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD By Bill Wright As she hands me the keys, she says, "It's the red one out front..." And, it certainly is - very, very RED. Volkswagen calls it Salsa Red, but I think that hardly does it justice. Salsa is, after all, red, among other colors. This car is RED. In the Thai language, one expresses extreme sensations (color, smell, temperature, etc) by saying the adjective twice - i.e., the color red is 'dang', so this car is at least dang dang, if not dang dang dang (I must ask my Thai speaking friends whether there is a limit as to how many times the feeling may be expressed). While I'm loading luggage into the trunk, an associate points out, "Hey, the size of the trunk goes well with the Michigan license plates." Before I can ask, he must have noticed the quizzical look on my face and continued, "It would go well with Jersey plates too, that's a three-body trunk." Without waiting for him to utter the mandatory "bada bing, etc", I point out that here in California we prefer to consider this size of trunk as being adequate for three sets of golf clubs, and besides, I am relatively sure that none of the PR people at Volkswagen, or the States of Michigan or New Jersey would be too thrilled with his observation. Did I mention that the car is RED?

I jump in and set about adjusting the various controls to my personal tastes and am pleased to find that the vehicle has Sirius Satellite Radio active, which means that the first order of business is putting my six favorites on the first (of three) SAT screens; Eighties, Blues, Traffic/Weather, NPR, Stones/Springsteen Channels, and Classic (Real) Country. What did we do before Satellite Radio (or cell phones, email... if you're over 50, this list could go on for quite some time)? For me, satellite radio is far more than a convenient novelty. If you spend as much time as I do driving up and down the Interstate 5 corridor between So Cal and No Cal (southern and northern California), and you are not particularly enamored with Christian Radio or what passes for Country Western these days, and you don't speak Spanish; then you better have SAT Radio, or Audio Books. And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about my Country Western comment, understand that I like Country Western music, it's just that I don't consider most of what is played on CW format stations today to be much more than Pop music with a cowboy hat. Maybe I'm old school, (about now, I can hear my daughter chiming in, "Maybe you're just plain old") but Country music for me is Merle (Haggard), Buck (Owens), Patsy (Cline), Charlie (Pride), Willy (Nelson), Waylon (Jennings), Johnny (Cash), Hank(s) (the Williamses, father and son)... another list that can go on for quite some time. When I hear Charlie Pride singing 'On the Wings of a Dove', or Merle Haggard singing 'Okie from Muskogee', it's the summer of 1970 all over again, and I'm once again (still?) that snot-nosed wise-assed kid from Berkeley, California, trying to fit in while working at Piggly Wiggly in Denton, Texas. but I digress.Have I mentioned that the Jetta is RED?

The thing that I like most about the Jetta is that it is truly a Volkswagen. By that I mean that it is tightly put together, the doors go 'thunk', it handles well, and is in general, fun to drive. The five-cylinder engine puts out 170 horsepower, and 177 pound-feet of torque, which when combined with the five speed manual nudges the 'fun factor' to above average. The newest iteration of the Jetta (the 2009), has an option that has the potential for really nudging up the fun factor: The new, common rail 2.0 TDI diesel engine is really something to look forward to. The Jetta has plenty of room in the front seats, and is better than average in the back seats. Being a large individual myself (once again, I can hear my daughter chiming in, "...I think that you mean fat, Pops"). I'm average height, but overweight, with bad knees and a bad hip which means that climbing in and out of cars is not my favorite pastime. The Jetta is laid out in such a way that the discomfort level is kept to a minimum.

The EPA estimate for gas mileage for the Jetta is 21 miles per gallon city and 29 highway, with a combined of 24 miles per gallon. In my wanderings, I am averaging a little better than 25 miles per gallon, so it is a relatively frugal vehicle. However, this pales in comparison to the aforementioned TDI, which should have a combined average that is in the mid to high 40s. All-in-all, I find the Jetta to be a good, small-to-mid-sized vehicle - well equipped and priced competitively at $20,600.00.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT A solid European sedan disguised as an inexpensive compact car For more information about Volkswagen products, go to 

SPECIFICATIONS SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2008 VW Jetta 2.5 Price of vehicle: $16,990 (base) $19,850 (SE base) $20,600 (SE, as tested) Engine type: 2.5 liter DOHC 20-valve in-line five-cylinder Horsepower: 170 bhp at 5,500 rpm Torque: 177 pound-feet at 4250 rpm EPA mileage specs: 21 mpg/city, 29 mpg/highway Drive configuration: Front-wheel-drive Transmission type: Six-speed manual or optional six-speed Tiptronic automatic Front suspension: MacPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminum subframe, tubular anti-roll bar, track stabilizing steering roll radius Rear suspension: Four-link with separate springs/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, and a tubular anti-roll bar Wheels/tires: 6.5 X 16 inch aluminum alloy wheels with 205/55R16 inch all-season tires Brakes: Front: 288-mm vented discs with dual-piston calipers Rear: 260-mm solid discs with single-piston calipers Power assisted, ABS, EBD, BA and electronic differential lock Overall length: 179.3 inches Overall width: 70.1 inches (without mirrors) Overall height: 57.4 inches Curb weight: 3230 pounds 0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds Top speed: 127 mph  

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