2022 Volkswagen Jetta

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2022 Volkswagen Jetta Review: The Goldilocks Compact

Don't let the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta's modest design and compact sizing lead you into thinking that it's just another cheap, bare-bones sedan not suited for the American market. The Jetta has been around longer than most and is eager to show that compact sedans are still important in a world dominated by crossovers. Think of this as a Golf with a trunk, going up against rivals like the Hyundai Elantra, Kia K5, Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic Sedan among several others. Newly updated for 2022, it packs front-wheel drive, a 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, and either a six-speed manual gearbox or a eight-speed automatic. Throw in a liberal dose of tech like VW's digital cockpit and a palatable price starting at just over $20,000 in the USA, and the Jetta is a pretty sweet deal packing ample space, quality, luxury, and driveability thanks to the MQB platform underpinning it. It's not without drawbacks, however, as the newest generation of rivals is more spacious, quicker, and more luxurious. But few strike the perfect balance of all these attributes in a not-too-hot, not-too-cold, juuuuust right kind of way like the Jetta does.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Changes: πŸš™What’s the difference vs 2021 Jetta?

Volkswagen has introduced a significant set of enhancements to the Jetta line for 2022 as part of a midlife refresh. The biggest upgrade this year is the 158-hp 1.5-liter turbo-four engine which replaces last year's 147-hp 1.4-liter. An all-new Sport trim level replaces the R-Line and the SEL Premium has been discontinued completely. Refreshed exterior styling and new interior features and materials have been applied throughout, too, with the entry-spec Jetta S now coming standard with VW's eight-inch digital cockpit display. Kings Red, Oryx White, and Rising Blue Metallic paints have been added to the paint palette.

Pros and Cons

  • Affordable base price
  • More power for 2022
  • Improved exterior design
  • Spacious cabin and trunk
  • Strong safety ratings
  • Not enough powertrain options
  • Unexciting to drive
  • Below-average reliability expectations

Best Deals on Jetta

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$20,365
Sport
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$21,265
SE
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,095
SEL
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,095

Jetta Exterior

Volkswagen applied numerous revisions to the exterior of the Jetta for the new year with the aim of sharpening its design to fend off newer rivals. The refreshed front grille gets four chrome crossbars (blacked out for the Sport), two thick outer bars, and two slim inner bars that flow into the LED headlight housings on either side, creating a wrap-around effect with the LED signature lights. The new grille is underscored by a revised lower air intake and fascia. Along the sides of the S, SE, and SEL you get chrome accents on the side view mirrors and window surrounds, all of which gets the black-out treatment on the Sport model. The SEL ships with a panoramic glass sunroof. While the Jetta S rides atop 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels, the rest of the range is fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels varying in style.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Front Angle View Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Rear Angle View Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Side View Volkswagen
See All 2022 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Classified as a compact four-door sedan, the Jetta bears dimensions similar to others in the class. Its overall body length measures 186.5 inches with a 105.7-inch wheelbase. It stands 57.7 inches in height and its width, excluding the mirrors, is 70.8 inches. The manual-equipped S and Sport weigh in at 2,915 pounds each while adding the automatic increases this to 2,989 lbs. The SE and SEL tip the scales at a curb weight of 3,060 lbs.

  • Length 186.5 in
  • Wheelbase 105.7 in
  • Height 57.7 in
  • Max Width 70.8 in
  • Front Width 60.7 in
  • Rear Width 60.4 in
  • Curb Weight 2,915.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are just seven exterior colors for the 2022 Jetta, with availability depending on the model. Offered across the board and at no extra cost are Platinum Gray Metallic, Pyrite Silver Metallic, Rising Blue Metallic, Deep Black Pearl, and Pure White. For the SE and SEL, VW offers Kings Red Metallic and Oryx White Pearl, the latter replacing Pure White. Both of these are premium options at a surcharge of $395. Kings Red Metallic is a signature VW color that looks great, but if you're looking for something available across the lineup, Rising Blue is a winner every time.

  • Oryx White Pearl
  • Kings Red Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic, Build Out:01/07/2022
  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pyrite Silver Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Rising Blue Metallic
  • Pure White

Jetta Performance

Standard across the new VW Jetta lineup (excluding the Jetta GLI which we review separately) is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine borrowed from the new VW Taos. The 1.5L turbo-four replaces the 1.4-liter mill used last year, bringing more power and low-down torque to the Jetta family. What doesn't change is the sole use of a front-wheel drivetrain, while the Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza both offer the option of AWD. The new powertrain has improved the Jetta's acceleration, but not by any substantial margin. 0 to 60 mph comes up in an unhurried 7.6 seconds in independent testing while its top speed is just 127 miles per hour.

The Sport model is meant to be the performance-focused option, but there aren't any extra ponies to play with. It does however get an XDS differential that sharpens up its handling, but if you're after a Jetta with a bit of poke, the 228-hp Jetta GLI will be up your alley with a six-second 0-60 mph dash and sharper handling.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Front View Driving Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Driving Front Angle Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Engine Volkswagen

Engine and Transmission

Volkswagen's new 1.5-liter turbo-four-cylinder engine has brought some much-needed power to the Jetta range. With 158 hp and 184 lb of torque, the turbo-four now offers another 11 hp compared to last year. It's not a lot but it is supplemented by the engine's tuning for low-down torque delivery. The outputs are forwarded through a six-speed manual gearbox in the S and Sport and through an eight-speed automatic transmission in the SE and SEL to a front-wheel drivetrain in all.

Acceleration responses from off-the-line are brisk by virtue of the engine's low-down torque tuning but from there, gaining ground and getting up to overtake speeds is really gradual. Even so, the engine exhibits minimal turbo lag whatsoever, and the motor works effectively and efficiently with either of the transmissions. The manual gearbox does provide some level of engagement, but with not much power to play with and a fair bit of weight, the Jetta doesn't exactly come alive the way other compact sedans do.

  • Engine
    1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Jetta's placid driving character is indicative of its purpose as a commuter car, leaving the enthusiasts to delight in the GLI. It's not overtly fun to drive, but it isn't meant to be thrilling. Instead, it's an ideal car for getting around town with its fuel efficiency and light handling. It takes some time to get up to speed on the highway and once there finding enough power for overtakes does require some effort, but once you're cruising the ride is otherwise fairly pleasant and smooth. Most bumps and abrasions in the road are dealt with adequately but larger speed bumps permeate the cabin, particularly from the rear thanks to a torsion beam rear suspension setup.

Its steering is suitably light, though lacking in precision, and makes the Jetta easy to drive and maneuver around tight streets and parking lots. There is some body roll around corners but the steering tightens up appropriately for better control.

With the added traction provided by its XDS differential, the Jetta Sport does feel a little more precise when it comes to carving up corners, but the upgrades are minimal in the grand scheme of things and rivals feel more dynamically talented in base form.

Jetta Gas Mileage

The Jetta has always been a frugal car but VW has improved its efficiency even further with the new 1.5-liter engine. The manual-equipped S and Sport have lost a little efficiency in city driving but gained better highway mileage for returns of 29/43/34 mpg city/highway/combined compared to the 30/41/34 mpg of last year's models. Opt for the automatic transmission and those figures improve slightly with both the S and Sport attaining 31/41/35 mpg. Both the SE and the SEL come standard with the automatic but are heavier, returning slightly lower figures of 29/40/33 mpg. Both the Hyundai Elantra and the Honda Civic are more frugal, attaining best combined-cycle figures of 36 mpg and 37 mpg, respectively.

With a full 13.2-gallon tank of gas, one should be able to travel for up to 459 miles in mixed conditions before needing to refuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/43 mpg
* 2022 Volkswagen Jetta S Manual

Jetta Interior

This year, VW has updated the Jetta's interior so that even the base models get the contemporary eight-inch digital driver display included as standard. This new addition is accompanied by a short list of design and material upgrades that have been applied throughout the Jetta lineup, including accenting on the upper dashboard, shifter housing, center armrest, and doors, new cloth seating upholstery with a rhombus pattern, and padded leatherette door inserts with the SEL getting ceramic sport contrast stitching. The Jetta has always had a modern and upscale look and feel, and the impression has been enhanced by these new improvements. The layout is still very driver-focused and nicely ergonomic. We'd go so far as to say the Jetta is better than the new Golf GTI in this regard, despite the Golf being newer and pricier.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Dashboard Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Steering Wheel Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Back Seats Volkswagen
See All 2022 Volkswagen Jetta Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

There's ample cabin room for all five of the occupants that the Jetta can accommodate. There's 38.5 inches of headroom up front and 41.1 inches of legroom. The three back seat passengers get 37.2 inches of headroom and 37.4 inches of legroom, which means the tallest of adults may feel a little cramped, as will any adult in the center rest seat where the raised floor prohibits true comfort. The seats throughout the cabin are supportive, spacious, and comfortable even in the base S, but the sport-bolstered comfort seats in the Sport model and upward are definitely better. The driver is positioned with good outward visibility and both front seats have six-way adjustment; manual in the S and Sport and power operated in the SE and SEL, the latter of which boasts eight-way adjustment for the driver. Wide-opening doors and a comfortable step-in height make ingress and egress easy to and from any of the seats.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.1 in
  • Front Head Room 38.5 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.2 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While the vinyl steering wheel in the base S and Sport trims brings attention to the other plastics and hard-touch materials in the cabin, VW has done a good job of improving the Jetta's look and feel by adding some design improvements and better materials. In the S and Sport, the seats are upholstered in a premium cloth material that is fairly stylish. Along with the dashboard and carpets, the upholstery can be had in either Storm Gray or Titan Black. The headliner and seating upholstery in the Sport are black as standard with contrast stitching. The seats in the SE come upholstered in V-Tex leatherette that can also be had in either Storm Gray or Titan Black. In the SEL, the genuine leather seats can be had in Titan Black or Volcano Brown/Black.

Jetta Trunk and Cargo Space

With 14.1 cubic feet of space in the trunk, the Jetta is a practical sedan, but not the best in the compact segment. By comparison, the Civic Sedan's trunk measures 15.1 cu-ft and the Elantra's just 14.2 cu-ft. There should be enough space for a laptop bag, gym bag, and a couple of school bags - just fine for the daily runabout. If more space is required, the back seats can be folded down in a 60/40-split.

In-cabin storage is ample but not excessively generous. Large door pockets, two front cupholders, a storage tray ahead of the shifter, and a narrow one alongside the cupholders are all practical, while an under-armrest bin is small, as is the glovebox. All trims except the base model get a rear-seat center armrest with two cupholders.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Trunk Space Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Maximum Trunk Space Volkswagen
2022 Volkswagen Jetta Trunk Space with Seat Folded Volkswagen
  • Trunk Volume
    14.1 ft³

Jetta Infotainment and Features

Features

There's a decent consignment of creature comforts and conveniences as standard in every Jetta model but the list extends significantly as of the SE. The S starts things off with power accessories, a vinyl steering wheel and shifter, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, manual air-conditioning, a rearview camera, and cruise control. The Sports gets nothing more but for some cosmetic alterations including a black headliner and sport-bolstered seats. With the SE, you get keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-clad steering wheel and shifter, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seats, front-seat heating, dual-zone automatic climate control, and adaptive cruise control. Premium additions such as an eight-way power driver's seat, front-seat ventilation, rear outboard seat heating, ten-color LED cabin lighting, and a panoramic sunroof separate the top-spec SEL from the rest of the lineup.

Driver assistance is provided standard on the SE and SEL and optional on the auto-equipped S and Sport trims in the form of IQ.Drive with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane assist, and emergency assist. The manual models have the option of a more basic system with blind-spot monitoring and lane assist with standard adaptive cruise control. Forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking are standard.

Infotainment

Standard in all but the top-spec SEL is a 6.5-inch MIB2 infotainment touchscreen that features Bluetooth connectivity, two USB-C ports, and a single SD card multimedia interface. Fortunately, VW does include both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as standard. Exclusive to the top-spec SEL is an eight-inch MIB3 touchscreen with navigation, wireless AppConnect capability, enhanced voice recognition, two illuminated USB-C ports, and a single charge-only port. HD Radio and SiriusXM Radio also become available and there's a wireless charging pad ahead of the shifter. The four-speaker sound system standard in the S, Sport, and SE is replaced by a 400-watt BeatsAudio system with nine speakers in the SEL.

Jetta Problems and Reliability

The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta hasn't been the subject of any recalls at the time of writing, an improvement from the three it suffered from in 2020 and 2021 and the seven in 2019. Unfortunately, J.D. Power's consumer-verified Quality and Reliability rating of 76 out of 100 proves below-par compared to rivals.

Volkswagen tries to offer peace of mind with a disappointing four-year/50,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty - well below what rivals from Hyundai and Kia provide.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 20,000 Miles

Jetta Safety

While only subjected to partial testing from the NHTSA, the 2022 Jetta's safety ratings in the side crash and rollover tests yielded five- and four-star results, respectively. The IIHS review of the VW Jetta is more comprehensive, handing it the best-possible results of Good in all six crash tests. It was let down by poor headlights, however, and the crash-avoidance features weren't tested.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Volkswagen ensures that a healthy selection of both passive and active safety measures are included throughout the Jetta lineup. Every model comes standard with six airbags (front, front-side, and side curtain airbags), along with all of the essentials such as electronic stability control, an anti-lock braking system, and a rearview camera. Standard driver assists in the S and Sport include just cruise control and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert but both the SE and the SEL get adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, travel assist, lane assist, and emergency assist - which provides semi-autonomous functionality in a medical emergency. All models feature autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta sedan a good car?

While many manufacturers transition to full lineups of crossovers and SUVs, Volkswagen deserves full credit for sticking it out with the Jetta and Jetta GLI. But despite improvements for 2022, the Jetta is somewhat lacking. It's not that it's a bad car, it's just that the Kia K5, Hyundai Elantra, and Mazda 3 have moved upmarket in quality, features, and performance and the Civic Sedan has become even more spacious, more grown-up, and yet still more fun, leaving the Jetta in a sort of no-mans-land in the middle. It looks alright, it's decently spacious, relatively light on gas, and handles well. But it has old tech, the materials aren't quite up to snuff, the Sport derivative only handles a teensy bit sharper, and when you move up the trim levels, it starts getting expensive. It does no one thing better than its rivals but blends the middle-ground of the segment into one package. Some call that dependability, but it seems a little like VW has rested on its laurels here. Take one out for a test drive before deciding on any car in this segment, definitely, but we're sure that you'll look past the Jetta sedan so long as brand bias doesn't cloud your judgment.

🚘What's the Price of the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta?

Volkswagen cleverly presents the Jetta at an affordable starting price for the compact segment. The most affordable model, the Jetta S, carries a base price of $20,365, with the Sport asking an MSRP of $21,265. It'll cost $800 to upgrade to the eight-speed automatic transmission on either of these trims. The Jetta SE brings in a significant amount more in creature comforts at an MSRP of $24,095. The top-spec Jetta SEL bears a price tag of $28,095. All prices exclude tax, registration, and licensing fees, as well as VW's $995 destination charge.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Models

With the discontinuation of the Jetta SEL Premium, just four models make up the new Volkswagen Jetta lineup: S, Sport, SE, and SEL. Powering the front wheels of every model is a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. In the S and Sport, it comes paired with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an optional eight-speed auto that you'll find standard on the SE and SEL.

The Jetta S starts off with full LED exterior lighting and 16-inch alloy wheels. Comforts are basic with a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, manual air conditioning, manual front seats, and cloth seating surfaces. It does, however, come with VW's eight-inch digital cockpit, front assist, and a blind-spot monitoring system. A 6.5-inch touchscreen with integration for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is paired with four speakers.

A blacked-out grille and fascia accents, sport bumpers, and 17-inch alloy wheels identify the Sport trim. Beneath the sheet metal, the only mechanical difference is the XDS differential for improved handling. Inside, it boasts bolstered sports seats with contrast stitching and a black headliner.

SE models take a substantial step up with keyless entry, push-button start, a leather-clad steering wheel and shifter, adaptive cruise control, six-way power seating adjustability, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Both front seats get heating and all seats are upholstered in a V-Tex leatherette. Dual-zone automatic climate control and a driver-assist suite with active blind-spot monitoring make the SE mode livable.

Topping things off, the SEL gets LED projector headlights, a power tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, front-seat ventilation, heated rear seats, and genuine leather-seating upholstery. The eight-inch MIB3 infotainment system with nine-speaker Beats audio system is exclusive to this trim. There's also remote start, high-beam control, and wireless smartphone charging.

See All 2022 Volkswagen Jetta Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Volkswagen doesn't offer many optional packages for the Jetta.

For both the S and the Sport models with the automatic transmission, there's a $955 IQ.Drive Package that installs adaptive cruise control with front assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, and emergency assist. Manual-equipped versions have a similar Driver Assistance Package that lacks the emergency assist function. The Convenience Package bundles these same features with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather steering wheel and shift knob, and automatic wipers.

Only the SE can be specced with the Panoramic Sunroof Package for $850.

πŸš—What Volkswagen Jetta Model Should I Buy?

The top-spec SEL has a lot of nice-to-haves but is also pricey and lacks a proper performance punch. That's why we'd cash in on the Jetta's affordable nature and choose the sport trim with the Driver Assistance Package for added safety. Stick with the manual for the most fun and add the Convenience Package for a steering wheel that doesn't feel cheap in hand. That'll get you a decent chassis, manual gearbox, and nice-to-touch surfaces, plus signature spaciousness, all without breaking the bank and making you feel like you should've looked elsewhere for the same money.

Check out other Volkswagen Jetta Styles

2022 Volkswagen Jetta Comparisons

Honda Civic Sedan CarBuzz
Volkswagen Passat Volkswagen
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Jetta158 hp29/43 mpg$20,365
Honda Civic Sedan 158 hp30/37 mpg$22,550
Volkswagen Passat 174 hp24/36 mpg$27,575

2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs Honda Civic Sedan

For the driving enthusiast, the Honda Civic is a no-brainer in comparison to the Volkswagen Jetta. It's simply the better driver's car and to some, perhaps also the better-looking sedan. Entry-spec Civics are powered by a 158-hp 2.0-liter engine which puts them on par with the Jetta, but with a 180-hp turbo-four offered in higher-spec Civics, the Jetta falls behind in both power and variety. Regardless of which powertrain is in play, however, the Honda Civic boasts quicker acceleration, deeper levels of engagement, and far better handling dynamics. With combined fuel economy returns ranging between 33 and 36 mpg throughout the Civic range, it's also impressively efficient.

Both sedans are equally as spacious and practical, but the Civic has a slightly larger trunk and more comfortable rear seats. Lower-spec Civics also outgun the Jetta for standard spec, with a slightly larger seven-inch touchscreen as standard fare. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the top-spec Civic is similarly priced to the top-spec Jetta but comes with a far better infotainment system and a few more driver assists. Whether you're a driving enthusiast or not, we feel the Civic has a lot more to offer.

See Honda Civic Sedan Review

2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs Volkswagen Passat

First of all, the midsize Passat is just about dead in the USA. Second, it's still based on an archaic previous-gen platform. This gifts it a larger interior than many rivals and much larger than the Jetta, but also means it's not as contemporary. But with 174 hp in base form thanks to a turbocharged engine, it has more power and is much quicker. There's no manual on offer, but that's not the greatest shame here.

As the more expensive and larger sedan, the Passat does come standard with a greater selection of comforts and conveniences from the get-go. Even so, the Jetta looks and feels like more of a premium vehicle with a more modern and ergonomic cabin design and layout. With the top-spec Jetta priced at just a little less than the top-spec Passat, we feel there's a lot more value from the Jetta. That's not saying it's a great vehicle, just that the Passat is much older and it feels it.

See Volkswagen Passat Review

Volkswagen Jetta Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2022 Volkswagen Jetta:

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