There have been 5 generations of the Jetta. They are also called the Mark 1, Mark 2, Mark 3, Mark 4, and Mark 5.
The first generation Mark 1 VW Jetta came with a variety of I4 engines. It was sold from 1980 until 1984. These Jettas were well known for their innovative safety features. Passive seatbelts were standard equipment on the Jetta, one of the first cars sold in the United States to have such a system. The major downside of these early Jettas was the lack of power steering.
The Mark 2 was sold from 1985 until 1992. This was a bigger car, but it still had just the I4 engines, in both gasoline and turbodiesel form. These old VW turbodiesel cars are still popular with people who are trying to get the best fuel economy out of their cars. They were known to get 40+ miles per gallon. These cars, particularly the turbodiesels, seemed to run forever. It's not uncommon to find one of these 20-year-old Jettas with 300,000 miles or more on the odometer.
The Mark 3 Jetta was when the car really came into its own in the United States. These cars were sold from 1991 until 1998. The performance Jettta VR6 featured an engine that had 59 horsepower more than any other Jetta engine. This was a 6 cylinder engine, unlike all the other 4 cylinder engines offered with the Jetta. Fuel economy on the TDI turbodiesel version of the Jetta was in the mid-40's miles per gallon.
The Mark 4 Jetta was sold from 1999 until 2005. One new option was the VR5 engine, which is a 5 cylinder variant of the VR6 engine. The VR6 was still an available engine on the Mark 4. A station wagon body type was introduced to the U.S. market for the 2002 model year.
The Volkswagen Jetta Mark 5 has been sold since 2005. A 5 cylinder I5 engine is now the standard in the United States. The head design on these engines is actually exactly the same as that on the V10 engine in the Lamborghini Gallardo. The TDI was not sold in a few states for the first year of production because emissions standards are very strict in those states and diesels tend to be a bit dirty, even though in the long run they might just be better for the environment.
The Volkswagen Jetta has been a very popular car among young drivers in the United States for the past 10 years. You'll find plenty of these cars on the used car market if you just know where to look. If you're lazy like me, just check out the listings on eBay. In many cases, they sell for less than I can find on the local used car lot. I also find Jetta parts on there.
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