Junkyard Gem: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

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Toyota and Honda bet big on gasoline-electric hybrids during the 2000s and were rewarded with plenty of dollars from fuel-economy-minded car buyers in the United States. Other manufacturers got into the hybrid game in time for the 2010s, making the technology seem less experimental to car shoppers. Volkswagen opted for a more diesel-centric route to big mpg during that period, however (which worked out just fine here until certain revelations hit the news in late 2015), but did bring one hybrid machine to its North American dealerships early in the decade: the Jetta Hybrid. I found one of these rare machines in a Northern California self-service boneyard recently, so let's take a look.

The Jetta Hybrid debuted in North America as a 2013 model, and our reviewer felt that it was more enjoyable to drive than other hybrid models at the time but that the savings in fuel costs versus the difference in cost between it and the Jetta TDI and Jetta SE would require seven and 13 years of 20,000 annual miles driven, respectively, to make it a worthwhile deal from a financial standpoint.

Car buyers must have agreed with that assessment, because Volkswagen discontinued the Jetta Hybrid in 2017 after disappointing sales.

A search for this car's VIN online showed that it had been auctioned off in June after suffering vandalism damage with 172,842 miles on the odometer, to a buyer in the Netherlands. Clearly, that deal fell through, because the car showed up at the Pick-n-Pull nearest the auction several months later.

The auction photos show an uncrashed and complete car, but junkyard shoppers had yanked the valuable headlights and grille before I arrived.

The 2013 Jetta Hybrid had an MSRP of $24,995 for the base model, $26,990 for the SE and $29,325 for the high-zoot SEL (that's about $33,325, $35,985 and $39,098 in 2023 dollars).

The 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and 20kW electric motor produced a combined output of 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet, fed through a seven-speed DCT.

Will the new Tiguan plug-in hybrid be more successful than the Jetta Hybrid was? We'll know in a few years.

Here we can enjoy the spectacle of a Jetta Hybrid driver making a Prius eat his voltage.

The Jetta Hybrid got much better fuel economy than a 454-powered late-1970s Chevrolet Stepside pickup.


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