Volkswagen’s 2023 Jetta compact sedan is celebrating its 40th Anniversary and over these years it has been a favorite among a multitude of buyers who know quality German engineering.
Jetta is offered in S, SE, SEL and performance oriented GLI. And for 2024, VW debuted a GLI Limited Edition version. We tested the SEL that was exceptionally equipped with the latest safety features that includes top government safety ratings and a surprisingly affordable price.
Jetta has a smooth slippery conservative design with LED head, running and taillights that light up a swath of roadway for bright visibility. And it shares similar styling lines and trim items with other VW models.
Jetta’s interior is similarly conservative and user friendly with an 8-inch infotainment display and large HVAC controls that are easy to view and use with selections displayable on the screen. It also serves the Beats audio, satellite radio, apps, navigation, climate selections, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity systems.
A stout gear selector for the 8-speed automatic transmission is standard on SE and SEL models and it shares the console with a wireless phone charger, mode selection switch for Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom modes, plus other controls.
Over on the configurable Digital Cockpit Pro 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, it offers a driver information display for functions, features and alerts between the speedo and tach. And when in Sport mode, the outer rim of the tach turns red indicting performance mode.
Perforated Vienna leather seating surfaces are heated front and rear with the fronts nicely supportive but a little on the taut side. The rear seats have wide opening doors for easy ingress/egress for two adults with good leg room, and those too are on the firm side. All in all, Jetta’s interior is spacious and airy for a compact sedan.
The trunk is also spacious. With the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 19.9 cubic feet of space for 44 inches of cargo loading depth. Pull two handles in the trunk and the rear seatbacks flip forward opening up 34.5 cubic feet of space for 70 inches of cargo loading depth. The trunk underfloor is occupied by a large Beats audio system/amplifier so small items cannot be stowed there.
Jetta SEL came with VW’s IQDrive suite of safety features such as Travel Assist (semi-automatic driving assistance), adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and automatic braking w/pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert.
Jetta also came with VWs Car-Net system wherein owners can use their smartphones to remotely lock/unlock the car, find the Jetta, monitor fuel levels and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa.
All models except the GLI model come with a 1.5-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder that develops 158-hp and 184 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of a respectful 29 city, 40-highway mpg with auto engine off/on feature and when routed through the 8-speed automatic transmission.
This mighty four banger puts forth good power for standing stop acceleration and when passing 18-wheelers on the interstate. Select Sport mode and performance is extra potent as engine rpms increase by about 400 and when the accelerator becomes more sensitive and the trans shifts quicker. There’s certainly no want for power.
Ride and handling are typical Euro in that the ride is on the firm side and handling is Autobahn precise and planted in sharp turns with no discernable body lean. It parked easily with a tight turning radius and was nimble in city traffic.
Jetta carries a reasonable price when similar sedans are priced in the upper 30s and low 40s. With all this German quality and features, Jetta SEL came with no extra cost options except for delivery that took the bottom line from $$28,385 to $29,280. You’d be hard-pressed to find a comparable, competitive Euro sedan for this price.
And get this. Jetta SEL received the government’s top overall safety score of five stars, four for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover. All impressive scores. The only way Jetta could be better is if had AWD.
Warranty wise, all Jetta’s are covered by a 4 year/50K powertrain, 7/100K corrosion and 3/36K 24-hour roadside assistance coverage.