Anyone who has been near a road has likely seen a Volkswagen Jetta, they are some of the most popular, versatile and longest running cars on the road. The Jetta has become something of an icon, representing both youthful excitement, yet adult sensibility and refinement. Perhaps it is this combination that makes the car such a popular choice for drivers of all ages. However, perhaps the most striking thing about the Jetta is the sheer amount of changes and remodeling that has undergone the car throughout its lifetime. Soon to be phased out, the 2004 model represents another facelift for Volkswagen, yet still retains everything that made the car so popular in the first place.
Like most vehicles, the Jetta comes in a variety of models and trims. Although there are some slight differences, the only noticeable change between the different trims comes with the engine, transmission, and some slight interior changes. The Jetta is offered with a GL or GLS package, both containing a 2.0 liter naturally aspirated motor, and equipped with either a four speed automatic or five speed manual transmission. The GL comes with a cloth interior package and standard audio system, whereas the GLS has an all leather interior, and is also equipped with a 200 watt Monsoon audio system. For those that like a little kick, the Jetta can also be purchased with a 1.8L turbo engine, coming with either a five speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual. Another option is the 1.9L turbo diesel model. Also offered is the VR6 model, which comes with a 2.8L six cylinder motor, but is only offered a manual transmission.
Regardless of which model is chosen however, all Jettas share some similar features. Each model comes with anti lock brakes, airbags on all sides of the driver and passenger, optional traction and skid control, and a choice of rims, different sets meant to complement different models.
However, the question on the minds of most drivers is whether or not the Jetta, regardless of the model, is worth buying. And, for those who are looking for a four door car that still has some kick, and the potential for a little fun, the Jetta is definitely a great choice.
Perhaps the best thing about the Jetta is the way that it drives. The handling and braking on the car is truly top class, and taking corners becomes second nature, especially if one is lucky enough to have a model equipped with traction control. Even when making sudden stops or hard cornering, the anti-lock brakes never let the driver down, delivering performance and safety at all speed levels. However, even with the excellent cornering, the Jetta still maintains a decent ground height, meaning that drivers do not have to worry about scraping their car over every bump in the road. And with a car like the Jetta, you definitely won’t want to scrape it.
Which brings us to one of the best features of the Jetta, which is the car’s styling itself, both interior and exterior. The exterior performs the hard task of being curvy and stylish without turning into a giant bubble. Although some may disagree with the rounder, more “grown up” style, it is generally a change for a better, and even with the change, the Jetta remains a distinct vehicle, it manages to stray from the pack while still maintaining a design that is comfortable and friendly to the eyes.
The interior of the car is what really shines though. Everything seems perfectly set up for the driver. All the controls for the air and heat are right where one would except them to be, and the steering wheel mounted audio controls are a great addition for safety, and are definitely fun to use. The seating and steering is perfect for the driver, giving one a great view of the road, while the leather seats may be a bit small for larger drivers, for most they are a comfortable fit. On cars with a manual transmission, the clutch is comfortable and the shifter is perfectly placed, meaning that one does not have to stretch or perform acrobats to effectively drive the car.
The overall build quality of the car is far above average, and the materials used in the interior never give the impression of driving a car in the Jetta’s price range. Another feature which many drivers may find very attractive is the car’s gas mileage, while the automatic transmissions tend to suffer a bit, both the stick and auto cars can expect to get around 30 miles to the gallon. Which, on a four door car with a decently powerful engine is something of an accomplishment. Those with families will also be pleased to learn that the car has an amazing amount of space inside, but trying to fit five larger people may produce some discomfort after an extended drive.
Of course, the Jetta is not perfect, and there are definitely some flaws with the car that should be mentioned. Most of the problems, though, can be tied to a single source, the car’s strange automatic transmission. While the Jettas with manual transmissions accelerate and keep speed with a decent pace, the automatic seems to rob the car of almost all power, even the turbo (albeit small) does little to help the acceleration of the car when it is coupled with an automatic transmission. Not that the Jetta is exactly designed to be a speed demon, but accelerating truly becomes a chore with the automatic. The car also seems to have a problem when going to a lower gear, and it takes a generous stab at the pedal to make it drop a gear, whereas the ratios just seem a tad bit off for highway cruising, running at higher RPMs despite the fourth gear.
The only other major complaint that can be found with the vehicle is likely the cost of maintenance. German cars in general are notorious for having high priced maintenance, and the Jetta is no different. While standard fare such as oil changes and fluid flushes shouldn’t give too much a problem, good luck on finding a properly trained scientist to work on the stock turbo.
Minor flaws aside, the Jetta is truly an excellent purchase for the money. Any 2004 model with relatively low miles can be purchased for under thirteen thousand, meaning that you can obtain a top of the line (in terms of features) car while still staying relatively close to a normal budget. To anyone seeking a fun, yet reasonable and sensible vehicle, the 2004 Volkswagen Jetta makes perfect sense, and is an astonishing value for the money.