Car Industry

2019 Volkswagen Jetta finally offers more than 40 mpg from gasoline

The old Jetta is dead but VW has rebuilt it to be more modern, cheerful and thrifty and all the other Boy Scout virtues.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Volkswagen has been (not so quietly) shifting its cars over to the MQB platform for a while now, but for some reason, it waited until the last possible second to pull the trigger on the Jetta. Among the many benefits to VW's wunderkind switching over to the more modern architecture is access to new, more efficient power trains. How efficient? Try 40 miles per gallon on the highway for both manual and automatic variants.

Witchcraft? Trickery? Outright cheating, you say? Nope, though let's face it, those are reasonable things to exclaim loudly in public as you're reading this. Indeed, it would seem that most of the magic comes down to fancy-pants new transmissions with more gears and a stop-start function on the automagic box. The manual transmission gets one more cog than the old one, now six sweet gears while the auto gets two more, up from six to eight speeds.

Previously, the outdated Jetta with its 1.8-liter gasoline engine and a manual transmission would return just 37 mpg on the freeway! This meant it was being outpaced by thriftier compacts from the likes of Hyundai and Chevrolet that would gingerly sip their fuel at 40-plus mpg, but now the crew from Wolfsburg can skip gas stations with the best of them.

The 2019 Jetta was announced in January in Detroit and will go on sale this spring. Volkswagen has said that the entry-level Jetta S model will retail for just under $20,000, but expect to get a decent amount of standard features for your car-buying dollar.