Choices are tough enough when it’s between your two favorite restaurants for dinner. But when it’s something as important and, let’s face it, costly (at least compared to the prix fixe menu), it can almost be too much to handle. You already know it’s going to be a Jetta SportWagen, whether you’re a Volkswagen lover from way back or this is going to be your first VW venture. Consider this your cheat sheet to narrowing down the TDI v. SE conundrum.
First, consider that both models have some identical standard features (and oodles of upgrade options), so some of the premiere features you’re after will be yours no matter which model you choose. This includes a crash-optimized front end, daytime running lights and single-zone climate and pollen control, just to get started. There are literally dozens of “standard” features guaranteed on both models. And that 12-year/unlimited mileage limited warranty against corrosion, 5-year/ 6,000 mile powertrain warranty and 3-year/36,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty? That’s just icing on either cake you pick.
What the SE Offers
This hyped up model offers everything the S series features, but tacks on a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and attention grabbing 16-inch Sedona alloy wheels. Enjoy a Premium VIII touchscreen sound system complete with HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a three-month trial subscription. Rounding things off, SE owners can also take advantage of a media device interface (MDI) with iPod cable, leather-wrapped shift knob and brake handle, and V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces.
With a starting price of $24,885, the SE offers enormous bang for your buck. The four-door model is also easy on the pocketbook when you’re at the fuel station with a 2.5L, 20-valve, DOHC in-line 5-cylinder engine that ponies up 170 hp and offers 177 ft/lbs of torque.
The TDI is Stiff Competition
Maybe you’re enamored with the SE, but you still want something a little bit more, a little different—just a little more you. The TDI’s big, unique standout features is the 2.0L, 140 hp TDI Clean Diesel Engine. Diesel fans rejoice with this model in the 2014 VW lineup, but that’s not the TDIs only appeal. Mix in all features of the SE along with 16-inch Bioline alloy wheels, a rearview camera and 115V power outlet.
The TDI starts at $26,565, just a smidge above the SE, and also features a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport Mode. With that 16-valve, in-line 4-cylinder clean diesel engine boasting common rail direct injection and 236 ft/lbs of torque, it’s easy to get the ultimate trifecta: Power, a dose of eco-friendliness and some money saved at the gas station.