Who Cares What the Experts Say, We’re Buying a Jetta

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Like a summer action movie that’s panned by critics but a blockbuster at the box office, the Volkswagen Jetta is experiencing fantastic sales despite receiving mostly bad reviews by car experts. The fact that the Jetta’s 2011 base price is $2,400 cheaper than it was the year before certainly doesn’t hurt the sales figures.

Consumer Reports, for instance, isn’t a fan of the 2011 Jetta. The handling, braking, interior, and mpg are all bashed by CR in this YouTube video review:

Authorities like Car & Driver also rated the Jetta poorly. But a CNN Money story on the 2011 Jetta’s runaway success indicates that many car buyers don’t give much weight to what the experts say. In the same way that moviegoers often may not care about cinematography or even whether a plot is remotely logical, car buyers don’t necessarily car about the same things fretted about by obsessive automobile enthusiasts. The CNN Money posts quotes Car & Driver editor Eddie Alternman saying as much:

“The things we look at very closely, things like the architecture and the sophistication of chassis components, are often lost on mainstream car buyers,” Alterman said.

The Jetta’s strong sales certainly show that critics and car buyers care about different things, and for many consumers, the newly cheaper sticker price (starting at $15,365) outweighs anything regarding the vehicle’s chassis or architecture, or even the handling and brakes.

What’s really interesting, though, is that while it’s safe to assume most Jetta buyers are firstly attracted by the low sub-$16K price, the average Jetta sold is actually a more pimped-out version, with options and upgrades bringing the total up to around $26K. That’s roughly $1,000 more than the average Jetta purchased a year ago, despite the lower base sticker price for the 2011 model.