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New Car Reviews

More Fun Than A Prius, Less Sensible Than A TDI

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid - front three-quarter view

Let’s have some fun, and do some math. We’re talking pretty rudimentary stuff, multiplication and division, to figure out if the upcoming fit-for-the-masses SE with VW’s long-serving 2.5-liter engine.

To keep the equations clean and simple (hey, we’re writers), we’ll calculate based on the most flattering EPA miles per gallon stat from highway driving for all cars, assume a healthy 20,000 miles driven per year, and factor in today’s average cost for the respective fuels these three require: diesel (TDI), regular (SE) and premium (Hybrid). We’ll also start with the base prices for all models.

With all of that info loaded into our mental hoppers, how much time does it take to make the 45-mpg fuel economy of the Jetta Hybrid offset its premium price? To refresh, the $24,995 Hybrid is $2,005 more than the TDI and a heady $6,000 more than the SE. With highway economy ratings of 43 mpg for the TDI and 48 for the Hybrid, even considering that diesel fuel is more expensive, it’d take you about seven years of Hybrid driving before you’ve paid off the technology premium. The regular-gas sipping SE is a still more compelling argument for the frugal, as you’ll need to drive your hybrid for roughly 13 years to make up the sticker difference at today’s fuel prices. Bring the miles driven down to a closer-to-average 12k per year, and the payback takes even longer.

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The last time Volkswagen moved this many vehicles in America in one year, Richard Nixon was still a President in good standing, Let It Be was a radio hit and each car wearing the VW badge boasted an air-cooled engine. That’s right, with a grand total of 580,286 vehicles sold in the US last year, the VW Group has broken its own four-decades-old sales record by 2,899 vehicles.

Of that 580k total sold, 438k were Volkswagens and 139k were Bugatti, we’re told is “right on track.”

Passat also finished very strong with sales of 117k total. Tiguan also racked up its best year on file, with 31,731 models shifted.

The company expects what it is calling “moderate growth” for the 2013 sales year ahead, though perhaps not at so blistering a rate as it racked up in 2012. Comments

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2013 Toyota Camry undergoing IIHS small overlap crash test

Crash tests continue to get ever tougher, and the new “small overlap” test from the Insurance launched in August, subjects just 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end to an impact at 40 miles per hour, and it’s proven to be a lot tougher to ace than the institute’s old 40-percent overlap test, which is also still in use. The test is designed to simulate impact with a pole, tree or an offset other vehicle – all common crash scenarios.

In its initial round of tests, the IIHS found just three of 11 midsize luxury and near-premium cars up to the job of earning acceptable or good ratings. In this latest go around, the IIHS subjected 18 midsize family sedans to the test, with two earning good ratings, 11 earning acceptable scores, three netting marginal and two suffering poor marks. Of those tested, the Suzuki Kizashi earned top marks.

Interestingly enough, the IIHS has gone out of its way to highlight the poor performances by the Prius V were both called out for poor performances in the small overlap, deeming them “the worst performers of the midsize group.” This, despite the fact that both models were new for 2012. Interestingly, both vehicles previously earned Top Safety Pick status, showing just how tough the new small overlap test really is.

IIHS also called out the Volkswagen as a result.

For a complete list of the vehicles tested and their scores, see the official press release and a video of the test Comments

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Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Spy Shots

GTI and R versions. Of course, the SportWagen goes by the name Golf in the old country.

Details are scarce on what we can expect to see under the hood, and Volkswagen hasn’t said when the new Golf/Jetta SportWagen will debut, but smart money is on seeing the next-generation vehicle at either the Comments

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Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid Land Speed Racer

Behold the fastest production hybrid in the world. For the second time this year, the Bonneville. That breaks the SCTA’s land speed record for production cars with forced induction engines of less than 1.5 liters.

On Oct. 5, Motor Trend Associate Road Test Editor Carlos Lago also posted the fastest run ever by a hybrid, hitting 187.147 mph during the last part of his second run. That bests the previous record by 1.753 mph set by the same car and driver in August.

In the official press release from below), the company brags that the “all-new 2013 Jetta hybrid is a distinctly different offering in the compact hybrid class, offering excellent fuel economy while retaining the fun-to-drive nature expected from a Volkswagen.” But don’t let that fool you. While the car may look stock, SCTA rules allow some major modifications in the “production car” class.

The suspension was lowered, the interior gutted and replaced with a full roll cage, and the car got special Salt Flat wheels and tires. Major engine modifications took the 170-horsepower motor all the way to 300 horses. Totally allowed under the rules, but a bit misleading considering the production car name.

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2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid will hit dealers near the end of 2012, and we’ve now learned that the new compact fuel-sipper will be priced from $24,995, (*) excluding the $795 destination charge.

For that price, buyers will be treated to a vehicle packed with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a 27-horsepower electric motor. Total system output is rated at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and the only transmission on offer is a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. According to Volkswagen’s estimates, the Jetta Hybrid will return a combined fuel economy rating of 45 miles per gallon, making it the most fuel-efficient model in the Jetta range. The Hybrid will sprint to 60 miles per hour in just under nine seconds, and it can even cruise in EV mode at speeds as high as 44 mph.

Unlike other automakers that force you to spec a certain trim level in order to get the hybrid technology, Volkswagen is launching its gasoline-electric Jetta in four different configurations. The base model, simply called Hybrid, nets you daytime running lights, power/heated mirrors, 15-inch alloy wheels, Climatronic climate control, Bluetooth and a host of other class-standard features.

Moving up from there, the Hybrid SE – $26,990 – adds LED taillights, power reclining front seats, a MDI audio interface with iPod connectivity, a premium touchscreen radio, Sirius and keyless access. And for $29,325, you can spec the Hybrid SEL which includes goodies like 16-inch alloys, a power sunroof, navigation, heated washer nozzles, heated seats and a full-power driver’s seat. At the top of the range is the Hybrid SEL Premium, featuring niceties like bi-xenon headlamps with LED running lights, foglights, 17-inch wheels, a rear-view camera and Volkswagen’s excellent Fender audio system.

For comparison, the not-quite-as-efficient (but likely more fun to drive) Jetta TDI – rated at 42 mpg highway – starts at $22,990, and loading one up will set you back $26,990, excluding destination.

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Jetta), and attached to the ad was a little black plastic box. A light sensor in the box detected when the ad page was opened and a pre-recorded message began saying good things about the Vento. The voice stopped talking when the page was turned and things went dark again.

It got people’s attention, making waves on ad blogs and in forums. Fast-forward to the present, and VW has gone back to its black-box routine. In a two-page ad for the Polo and Vento, the first page is bare but for the headline “Feel the shiver of excitement?” Turn to the second page, and the light-sensitive box – on the lower left in the picture above – goes to work again, only this time the box doesn’t start talking, it just starts vibrating.

The ad has got people talking on Twitter and elsewhere, but they’re using different words. Instead of “neat” and “innovative,” this time it’s “#Fail,” “I was wondering what the vibrator was doing in the newspaper.” Then, only if readers focused on staying on message, which it seems most did not, it was easy to make the unsavory connection that neither shivering nor vibration is are things you’re looking for in your car.

Still, did we mention that people are talking? So if “any press is good press,” perhaps good press is now vibrating press. At least in India. Check out the vibrating print ad for yourself in the video available Comments

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