Volkswagen Recalls Certain Golf Models

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Jul 302018

2018 VW Golf

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain 2015-2018 Volkswagen Golf and Golf Sportwagen vehicles. The build of silicate on the shift lever micro switch contacts may enable the key to be removed from the ignition while the vehicle shift lever is not in “Park.” As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 114, “Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention.”

Golf Sportwagen

Removing the key while the shift lever is in a position other than “Park” increases the risk of an unintended vehicle rollaway that may result in personal injury or a crash.

Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will install an additional switch and circuit board, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 8, 2018. Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 37L5.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

Car Launch: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

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Jul 122018

For its fortieth birthday, the VW Jetta compact sedan gets a new look for 2019, reflecting a discernibly new DNA. With plans to “become a volume brand in the United States,” Volkswagen will use an enhanced warranty, aggressive pricing, and improved fuel economy to make that happen.

While car sales are down, they’re definitely not out. More compact cars sold in March of this year than midsize, small, and large sport utility vehicles combined, according to The Wall Street Journal and rising gas prices will energize compact car sales even more.

The VW Jetta then and now.

Since its introduction in 1979, the Jetta has seen seven redesigns, each a subtle improvement on the last generation. Not so for the seventh version. With its bold trapezoidal grille, sloping roofline, rear spoiler, and available LED projector headlights, the new look amounts to a bold move for VW. It’s also longer, wider, and taller than the outgoing model.

At the recent launch in Durham, NC, attended by Latino Traffic Report, we drove the Jetta SEL powered by a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with direct injection, standard on all 2019 Jettas, matched to the all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is available on the base model and for an extra $450, it can also be equipped with the blind spot, rear traffic, and forward collision warning systems. Rarely offered on a base model, much less one with a manual transmission, available technology like this represents another bold move for VW.

The engine produces 147 horses and 184 lb.–ft. of torque. Assisted by improved aerodynamics, the new Jetta has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with either the manual or the automatic. It averaged 35.8 mpg on the test drive.

An expanded exterior usually translates into a roomier interior, and so it is on the new Jetta, with more head, knee, and shoulder room than before. The standard 60/40-split rear seat also adds convenience and versatility. Additional standard convenience features include a rearview camera, a multi-function steering wheel, a trip computer displayed in the instrument cluster with information like fuel consumption, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and AM/FM radio and one USB port. Stepping up one trim level to the SE, however, adds lots more stuff like, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic tilting sunroof,and most importantly, and the afore mentioned blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning with emergency braking.

Offering offering luxury features like heated and ventilated front seats, BeatsAudio, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, ten-color ambient lighting, and Driving Mode Selection, VW’s compact sedan could be called the adult in its competitive set.

Finally, the Jetta will be covered by VW’s best-in-class transferable six-year/72,000-mile (whichever comes first) bumper-to bumper warranty, a move the manufacturer hopes will inspire renewed confidence in the brand.

Pricing for the 2019 Jetta starts at $19,440 with destination fees.


Car Review: 2018 Golf GTI

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Apr 212018

At Latino Traffic Report (LTR), we continue to root for the manual transmission, so whenever we get a test model delivered with one, it’s always a good day. Such was the case when the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0T SE arrived, equipped with a six-speed manual transmission (standard equipment) and lots of pep.

What makes a manual transmission so preferable, especially on a compact car, is that it ramps up the fun-to-drive experience of an otherwise lackluster model—most five-door hatches are built for efficiency and convenience, not fun. As a result, the GTI has received more than a dozen awards since its redesign in 2015.

Described by VW as its “hot hatch,” the GTI debuted in 1983 and since then has transformed the hatchback from a utilitarian car and into a sporty compact. Redesigned for the 2015 model year, the seventh generation of the Golf GTI included three available trim levels—S, SE, and Autobahn. They remain for 2018 but with a few improvements.

The four-cylinder, 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged direct-injection engine, built in Silao, Mexico, returns but it’s been improved in 2018 to produce 220 horsepower (achieved on premium fuel), and a torque peak of 258 lb.–ft. Paired to the six-speed manual transmission, it can achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. During the test it achieved an average fuel economy of 27 mpg.

The available six-speed automatic transmission incorporates a launch control feature and a new Start-Stop System designed to save gas, earning an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

While not the top-of-the-line model, the GTI does sits above the Golf S and SE, expanding its list of standard features to include heated front seats, a sunroof, a blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, and keyless access with a push button start.

For those who can’t step up to the GTI, standard features on all Golfs include cruise control, air conditioning, VW Car-Net App Connect, a rearview camera, LED headlights, and daytime running lights and taillights.

Known for sportiness, the Golf GTI is still a hatchback and as such, versatile, offering cargo carrying room of up to 52.7 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded flat. The infotainment touchscreen has also increased to 6.5 inches for 2018 on the base model. It measured eight inches on the test model.

Like other brands, VW has taken to using a warranty to tilt car buyers in their favor. The Golf GTI is covered by a transferable, six-year or 72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty.

Pricing for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI with a six-speed manual transmission starts at $27,265. The price as–tested, including black leather seating with red accent stitching ($695) and red ambient lighting came to $32,015.

Sí: The Golf GTI was fun to drive and included nice creature comforts like heated seats and a blind spot monitor.

No: While VW likes to call the GTI an affordable performance vehicle, it’s a little pricey, especially compared to the competition.

SUV Launch: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

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Jan 192018

With the majestic Colorado Rockies as a backdrop, Volkswagen launched the second generation of its popular compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), the 2018 Tiguan. Latino Traffic Report attended the event in Denver, Colorado, where the Tiguan tackled the terrain and the altitude.

On the outside, the all-new Tiguan shares several design cues with its larger sibling, the 2018 Atlas, namely, the grille, headlamps, and taillights.

Powered by an updated 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged TSI engine, with 184 horsepower and 221 lb.–ft. of torque, and matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the compact SUV should gain an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Tiguans equipped with 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) will earn just one mpg less in the city. At the launch, I averaged 26.1 mpg in the SEL Premium AWD. The 2.0-liter turbo did struggle on inclines and there was some turbo lag. Of course, the elevation certainly didn’t help.

Active Control, a unique feature with 4Motion, also allows more intrepid drivers to chose among four driving modes—On-road, Snow, Off-road, and Custom Off-road. To fine tune the On-road experience further, four additional modes—Normal, Sport, Eco, and Custom—can be engaged with the push of a button. Along curvy mountain climbs and descents, I tested the Sport mode. It improved handling via tighter steering but didn’t offer a noticeable increase in power.

The new Tiguan tackles the versatility challenge by adding 10.6 inches in length, giving it up to 58 percent more cargo space than the current model. It also includes a 50/50 split third row third-row seat, suitable for children, on entry-level trims with front-wheel drive (FWD) and makes it available on models with VW 4Motion AWD technology. The 40/20/40 split second-row bench can recline and slide seven inches fore and aft. Both rows fold down to create a maximum of 65.7 cubic feet of cargo room.

With four available trim levels, S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium, there’s quite a gap between standard features from the base to the top-of-the-line model, amounting to a difference in value of more than $10,000.

On the outside, the base has halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, foglights with a cornering function, heated exterior mirrors with integrated turn-signal indicators, and 17-inch wheels. By comparison, the SEL Premium comes with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System, rain-sensing wipers, and power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lights. For added convenience, the SEL Premium also includes the foot-activated, hands-free Easy Open power liftgate.

Standard cloth seats in the all-new Tiguan

Standard safety features on all models include a rearview camera and Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, unique to VW. The Premium SEL adds an overhead view camera, Active Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Park Distance Control among other features.

Standard creature comforts include a multi-function steering wheel, cloth seats with a nice quilted pattern, cruise control, a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with AM/FM radio and one USB port, Bluetooth, VW Car-Net App-Connect, and the MIB II infotainment system.

The SEL Premium adds a panoramic sunroof, an eight-inch touchscreen, heated leather seats and steering wheel, two more USB ports, a power driver’s seat with memory, keyless start, and the Fender premium audio system.

With a bolder design on the outside, the 2018 Tiguan bears the new face of VW, but it also improves on essentials with more room and technology.

Pricing for the 2018 Tiguan starts at $25,495 and $37,150 for the SEL Premium.


SUV Launch: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

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Jun 192017

From station wagons to crossovers, family vehicles have evolved to accommodate the needs of modern households. Most manufacturers have major players in every segment, but a few still don’t. Volkswagen is the latest to join the midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) crowd with the all-new 2018 Atlas. Latino Traffic Report recently attended the launch in the Texas Hill Country.

“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”

Atlas Premium display.

Atlas SE display.

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the seven-passenger Atlas is available in five trim levels—S, SE, SE w/Technology, SEL and Premium SEL—and is scheduled to appear in dealer showrooms in the spring of 2017. At the launch, the four top trim levels were available, i.e. all but the S were there. The SE and Premium are separated by more than $10,000 in price and the driving experience, particularly the interior, reflected that.

The Premium offers a digital TFT gauge cluster, while the SE uses traditional hardware. The digital 12.3-inch display can also be customized, a feature usually reserved for premium vehicles, no pun intended. The Atlas Premium interior also includes heated leather seats while the SE comes with leatherette upholstery.

Still, all Atlases offer utility with three rows of seats, including second and third rows that can fold flat to provide a maximum cargo volume of 96.8 cubic feet behind the front-row seats.

For those a little more concerned with fuel economy, the Atlas will offer a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque. For families who’d like more power, the Atlas can also be outfitted with a 3.6-liter VR6 that delivers 276 horses and 266 lb.–ft. of torque. Both are matched to an eight-speed transmission. The maximum towing for the V6 is 5,000 lbs. with a factory-installed hitch. The standard Start/Stop technology on both engines that cuts the engine off at a stop, also helps conserve gas and while noticeable, it was less jarring than other systems.

While the Texas Hill Country can’t match the curves and climbs along some California highways, it did provide enough of a challenge to test the V6 engine and it reformed successfully. The turbo wasn’t available at the launch. Both engines are available on all trims with the exception of the Premium SEL, which is only offered with the VR6 engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD). While there was no off-road course at the launch, Atlases with AWD do come with Driving Mode Selection or settings for handling road (and off-road) conditions—Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad—plus, within the “Onroad” setting come additional options—Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual.

EPA testing is still underway, but the front-wheel drive VR6 models are expected to earn around 18 miles per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. As the 2.0-liter engine will have late availability, no mpg information is currently available.

Family vehicles need to be packed with safety features as well as utility. Setting the Atlas apart is the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which is standard on all models. Unavailable on the base model, the following features are standard based on the trim level. A blind spot monitor is standard on the SE and above while Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning with emergency braking and pedestrian warning, and Lane Assist come with the SE w/Technology and above. Park Distance Control is only standard on the Premium.

Standard convenience features include a rearview camera, two-zone (first row and second/third row) climate control, cruise control, the MIB II infotainment system, and a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display.

Forging its way into a crowded field, the Atlas may not shake up the segment, but it will certainly carve out a niche.

Pricing for the 2018 Atlas starts at $31,425. The as-tested pricing on the 2018 Atlas SE and Premium trims at the launch came to $36,225 and $49,415, respectively.


Car Review: 2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI SEL

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Nov 222016


The auto industry has predicted the demise of manual transmissions for decades so when one gets delivered to Latino Traffic Report for a review, I’m thrilled. It’s even more exciting when the manual comes on a trim level that allows for more bells and whistles. That was the case with the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI SEL that I drove.

Manual transmissions just make driving more fun, that’s why most sports cars still offer them. On economy cars, manual transmissions serve a different purpose. Reserved for entry-level models that can’t be upgraded and are basically sold as-is, they help lower the base price. Still, they do add oomph to little four-cylinder engines so it’s unfortunate that they really can’t compete with their siblings and are easily passed over.img_0852

Not surprisingly, the base model Jetta comes with a manual transmission, but so does the GLI SEL that sits just below the top-of-the-line Jetta hybrid. As such, it comes with advanced technology, particularly on the safety side, like a blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, parking sensors, and a rearview camera.

Redesigned for 2015, the 2016 model adds a 1.4-liter turbocharged, direct-injection engine four-cylinder. I drove the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder matched to a six–speed manual transmission. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. I averaged 24.9 mpg. A six-speed automatic is also available as well as a 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.

The GLI SEL also gets a bold new look for 2016, highlighted by an aggressive front fascia that incorporates a honeycomb grille and foglights, along with a new rear bumper design that has a diffuser and a pair of chrome-tipped exhausts, plus 18-inch Mallory design aluminum-alloy wheels.

img_0855On the inside, the GLI SEL continues to add features like dual-zone climate control, a 6.3-inch touchscreen for radio controls and navigation (it was a little clunky to operate), heated black leatherette front seats with red accent stitching, a power sunroof, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a Fender premium audio system developed through a collaboration between Fender and Panasonic. It includes 400 watts of power, nine speakers, a trunk-mounted subwoofer, and my favorite low-tech feature, a CD player.

Convenience features include a split rear seat with pass through to the trunk, a 60/40-split rear seatback offering 15.5 cubic feet of usable trunk space, a tilting and telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, keyless access with push button start and a cooled glovebox.jetta-rear

Volkswagen’s most popular model, the Jetta has a starting price of $18,500. The as-tested price topped out at $30,100.


Sí: Always great to find manual transmissions on up-level trims and the Jetta GLI SEL includes nice bells and whistles.

No: The audio system was less intuitive than most, especially when programming preset stations.

New Passat Adds Value and Refinement for 2016

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Jan 092016

2015-10-21 passat2

It’s not easy being a midsize sedan, what with all the competition. Designed specifically for the U.S. market, the Volkswagen Passat adds a European option to the segment at a surprisingly affordable price. For 2016, the German sedan bears a new look and even more bang for the buck.

Volkswagen’s design DNA could be called understated, so one shouldn’t expect the new Passat to be remarkably different from the outgoing model. Designers made subtle changes on the outside to make it appear more streamlined.

2016 Passat S

2016 Passat S

At the launch in Vermont, premium touches like a new dashboard and center console, along with integrated two-tone decor panels, and a new frameless rearview mirror elevated my first impression of the interior. Volkswagen also gave journalists a rare opportunity to drive the base or S model, offering a well-rounded view of the lineup.

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 2016 Passat can be powered by either of two engines—the 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter VR6. Volkswagen has suspended the sale of diesels for now.

Made in Silao, Mexico, the turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 184 lb.–ft. of torque using regular gasoline. Matched to the six-speed automatic, the Passat should achieve an estimated fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. I achieved 36.8 average mpg at the launch.

2015-10-22 09.02.44The 3.6-liter VR6 produces 280 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque with premium fuel. It should earn an EPA-estimated highway mileage of 28 mpg with the six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters add to its sporty performance and handling.

New technology, like the available Easy Open trunk also, adds value and keeps the Passat on trend. Easy Open Truck allows the driver, within three feet of the trunk, to use his feet to activate a sensor near the rear of the vehicle, opening the trunk hands-free.2015-10-22 09.54.24

Volkswagen’s signature infotainment system, MIB II, comes standard with a five- or 6.3-inch touchscreens and most models include a display capacitive touch sensor that enables gesture controls like swiping and pinch zooming. Internet connections are available via Car-Net features that include App-Connect technology that can be integrated with three major Smartphone platforms— Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

While advanced safety technology, like a blind spot monitor, is unavailable on the base model, it is standard on the SE w/Technology models and up. All Passat’s do come equipped with a rearview camera and Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, first launched on the 2015 Golf. As the name implies, it applies the brakes after a primary collision helping to reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, reduce the chance of additional damage.

2016 Passat SE

2016 Passat SE

Standard creature comforts include dual- zone climate control, a steering wheel with audio and phone control, a CD player, and a 60/40-split rear seat for added cargo space. The large trunk can accommodate 15.9 cubic feet of luggage.

Available in multiple trim levels, starting prices range from $23,260 (with destination fees) for the S, to $35,090 for the SEL Premium. New features on the base model, however, account for a value of $1,315. The best buy, however, may be the SE w/Technology, starting at $29,230, because of standard features like the afore mentioned blind spot monitor, Rear Traffic Alert with braking, and keyless entry with push-button start.