Click above for high-res shots of the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

This is the time of the year for awards, as pretty much all of the 2009 models are out in the open and journalists have had a bit of time to digest each and every model against its competitors. Such is the case at Popular Mechanics, which has just released its annual Automotive Excellence Awards. This year, as you might imagine, an emphasis is being placed on fuel efficient vehicles, and our friends at PM realize this fact and have handed out an award for fuel efficiency. The winner? Volkswagen's Jetta TDI, the first 50-state legal diesel vehicle sold in the U.S. since the latest and most stringent set of emissions regulations have been implemented. The Jetta was compared directly with the fuel economy leader, the Toyota Prius, and the editors found that the Jetta was nearly as efficient as its rival on the highway along with being more fun to drive in their eyes. Next year, the Jetta will have tough competition in the form of a brand-new Prius along with a new Insight hybrid from Honda. Let the games begin!

[Source: Popular Mechanics]