Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta is offered in several levels, with three different powerplants. The S and SE models offer a 1.4L 4-cylinder engine that makes 150 horsepower. SEL models are powered by a 170-horsepower 1.8L 4-cylinder turbo. GLI models are powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder making 210 horsepower.

A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on S and SE models, while a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode is optional. The SEL is equipped only with a 6-speed automatic, while a 6-speed manual is standard on the GLI, with the 6-speed auto optional.

Jetta S models come equipped with standard goodies such as heated power side mirrors, one-touch up/down power on all four windows, an AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 playback, 6-way manual seat adjustment, air conditioning, a rearview camera, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. Jetta SE models add power reclining front seats, metallic interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and V-Tex leatherette seating. SEL trims bring a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar support, adaptive cruise control, a "soft-touch" dash, 17-inch alloy wheels, bumper-integrated halogen fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, chrome accents, touchscreen navigation, Bluetooth, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, interior leather accents and a multi-function trip computer.

The GLI is equipped much like the SEL but with the larger engine. It also rides on 18-inch alloy wheels with a sportier suspension and stronger brakes. Exterior differences include chrome exhaust tips, a spoiler, a unique grille and LED taillights. Inside, there are sport seats, a Fender sound system with nine speakers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The GLI does not include adaptive cruise control, however.

Packaged convenience options for the SE add many of the premium features of the SEL, including heated seats, a premium audio system and Bluetooth, while a sunroof package includes an even more robust touchscreen stereo system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and SD memory card reader, plus a tinted power sunroof. The sunroof is available on the SEL as well.

Standard safety equipment on all Jettas includes 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, driver and front passenger front and side thorax airbags, side curtain airbags, traction and stability control and engine braking assist. New optional safety technologies include blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, frontal collision warning and Park Distance Control.

Editors' Review

Cars don't get much more middle-of-the-road than the Volkswagen Jetta. Mature looking and spacious inside, it's as sensible as a pair of sweatpants, if not quite as comfortable. 

The Jetta migrated to VW's ubiquitous MQB architecture last year, a platform that underpins a huge range of vehicles in the Volkswagen Group automotive empire, from the Golf hatchback to various Audis, Seats, Škodas and more. This foundational shift allowed engineers to give the car a longer wheelbase, plus increase its width and height, all while reducing the front overhang for more attractive proportions, though the grille… yeah, it's got a lot of grille.

Aside from better looks, these changes also increased cabin space. Passenger volume now clocks in at 94.7 cubic feet, while the trunk measures a generous 14.1. This means the Jetta is roomier than the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 sedan, though the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra are slightly more capacious according to the spec sheets, but in normal use you're not likely to notice a difference. 

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The Good ~ Excellent real-world fuel economy ~ Spacious backseat and trunk ~ Solid infotainment system

The Bad ~ Occasional low-speed stumble ~ Engine gets winded easily ~ Park-bench front seats

The Bottom Line The Jetta is a good car, but you get the feeling VW isn't swinging for the fences with this product.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7
  • Features 7.5
  • Design 7
  • Media 8

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