The Volkswagen Jetta is basically a Golf with a boot, and while the model is nowhere near as popular as it’s shorter hatchback sibling, it’s a worthy consideration for a quality family car that’s safe and efficient. There are a few trim and spec levels available that make the sedan a rather attractive purchase, even though the halo GLI version doesn’t quite match up to the GTi. Three powerplants, manual or automatic transmission, good base pricing and a full 5 stars from the NHTSA means there should be a Volkswagen Jetta to suit most people’s needs.
Inside the Volkswagen Jetta you’re greeted with a typical VW dash and steering setup that you’d find in a few different VW models. This generic setup doesn’t look bad and is rather minimalistic when compared to some other Volkswagens. There’s an analogue instrument cluster with a small driver information screen in the center and just ahead of that is the flat-bottomed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.
The center console houses the 6.3-inch color touchscreen for the infotainment system, again, as you’d find in most new Volkswagens, with the dual-zone climate control found just below. Seating features power adjustable seats up front and a spacious bench seat in the rear with space for three.
The front seats can be had with heating and finished in leatherette or grey cloth, or in a sportier bucket configuration – trim dependent. A full month’s worth of groceries will fit in the trunk that has 16 cu.ft of space, and if more is required there’s the 60/40 split rear seats.
The drive depends on the chosen trim; options include a 1.4-liter, 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter engine, all turbocharged. The gearing is good and properly makes use of the power, in the 1.4-liter you’d likely double check if that capacity is right because it feels much bigger thanks to torque equal to the larger 1.8-liter engine. Other than power, the Jettas all drive and feel the same.
The chassis is still rigid considering its extra length over that found in the Golf, and as a result the handling is much the same too. The suspension is firm enough to keep the Jetta composed on tight turns but not harsh so as to ever be uncomfortable. The manual transmission is notchy in feel and the lever has a short throw making changing gears less of a chore. The automatic transmissions are again typically Volkswagen with smooth operation and precise shifting.
The small capacity 1.4-liter engine is turbocharged and as a result makes a good 150 hp with 184 lb-ft of torque. This one is mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic shifting, and with 40 mpg on the highway it’s a frugal option. The 1.8-liter engine is also turbocharged, and the larger capacity sees power come in at 170 hp with the same 184 lb-ft of torque as the smaller engine.
This one gets either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, the latter again with TipTronic shifting. The biggest engine is optioned in the GLI trim and as expected; it’s the most powerful with 210 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque on tap. This one has the option of a 6-speed manual too, but the 6-speed automatic features DSG.
The Volkswagen Jetta features a 5-star rating at the NHTSA thanks to features like the Intelligent Crash Response System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and seven stability-enhancing systems including ABS, EBD and ESC – trim dependent. Its well-appointed in the Jetta even though some plastics are a little on the hard side in the lower models with a matching low grade audio system.
The top trim does feature softer bits, but that’s expected because of the higher price tag. The infotainment system also features Bluetooth, touchscreen navigation, a 6-speaker audio system and a rear-view camera system with reverse assistance – again option dependent.
The Volkswagen Jetta is a good, solid car that’s available in enough trim and spec levels to keep just about anyone happy. The sedan offers up a good drive thanks to some familiar underpinnings shared in other Volkswagen models. Interior fit and finish is good, even the lower spec hard plastics are acceptable when looking at the overall package and pricing. Engines and transmissions on offer will also cater to all needs, from the frugal turbocharged 1.4-liter to the more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter.