In this its seventh generation, Volkswagen’s top selling Jetta FWD sedan has undergone a complete makeover, making it the best Jetta to date, and a stylish one at that.
Offered in S, SE, R-Line, SEL, SEL Premium and GLI models, we were privileged to test the SEL Premium that was generously equipped with the latest technology and then some.
The first feature you’ll notice upon slipping behind the racy, square-bottom steering wheel and snuggling into the perforated leather very supportive front seats, is Jetta’s digital cockpit. It includes an 8-inch touchscreen and full digital gauge cluster with a driver information display nestled between the speedo and tach.
The touchscreen serves a host of features that includes a Beats audio system, satellite radio, rearview camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Mirrolink, navigation, apps with Travel Link, Traffic and more. It also displays selected driving modes of Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom. Included too is VWs Car-Net that with a smartphone, it enables locking/unlocking, stolen vehicle locator, curfew alerts, speed limits, boundary setting, contacting emergency services after an accidents and more.
Analog HVAC controls are large and simple to use and can be adjusted while driving unlike some cars with touchscreen selections that make it dangerous to use while driving. Below these controls are a thoughtful wireless phone charger.
What is unusual, is that VW combined the driver’s seat heater switch with the heated steering wheel switch. So when selecting steering wheel heat, it also turns on the driver’s seat heater whether you want it or not.
And get this. There are 10 color customizable interior lighting and sill lights choices.
The console houses the 8-speed automatic transmission shifter that’s flanked by the electronic brake switch, mode control and auto start/stop engine shut-off switch. All conveniently placed.
Jetta’s heated back seats can double as a (compact) limo with wide opening doors, comfy seats and a generous amount of leg and headroom for two adults. A high transaxle hump prevents a third adult but a youngster with short legs would work. There’s also a sizable pull down armrest/console that has some storage room and heat controls.
Back in the trunk, that is rated at 14.1 cubic foot, it measures 44 inches deep and can accommodate two large rollie luggage bags plus a few small duffel bags. Need more space? Merely pull two handles in the trunk and the rear seatbacks flip forward that increased trunk space about a third for 70 inches of cargo loading depth.
The Jetta SEL Premium came with a 1.4-liter, turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that generates 147-hp and 184 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of an almost hybrid 30 city, 40-highway mpg with start/stop engine technology. The little 1.4 moves the 2,9676 pound Jetta in linear fashion. Select Sport mode and shift points are at a higher rpm for more spunk when needed. A custom setting allows the driver to select his or her driving preferences.
If you crave more gusto, opt for the GLI with its 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 that puts down 228-hp and 258 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage ratings of 25/32 mpg with an automatic trans. A 6-speed manual trans is also offered for EPA’s of 25/33 mpg. Not much advantage other than you can shift for yourself wherein it turns Jetta into a driving enthusiasts’ sedan.
As for Jetta’s ride, it’s a relatively smooth and quiet ride on Bridgestone 17-inch tires. Handling is Autobahn precise. Toss it in the turns and it sticks like a sportster with its Electronic Stability Control and Electronic Differential Lock.
And for quality German engineering and build, Jetta has an affordable price. With a long list of safety features like automatic post collision braking system, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, lane keeping assist, tilting/telescoping steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring and more, these are all features todays car buyers demand.
For all this plus added amenities like a sunroof, Jetta carried a base price of $27,945. Add special Habanero Orange paint ($295) and delivery ($920) and the bottom line reflected an affordable $29,160.
Jetta also comes with top government safety ratings of a full five stars for overall vehicle score, four for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
All considered, Jetta is a compelling competitor to Honda’s Civic and Toyota’s Corolla. The only way it could be better if it were offered with AWD for us folks in the Snowbelt.