• Image Credit: VW

Volkswagen is coming to the realization that in order to get green car buyers in the U.S., they've got to offer a hybrid. So they recently introduced a hybrid variation of the Jetta for the 2013 model year.

VW has some of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road, but those are all diesels. And although VW sells more diesel passenger cars in the U.S. than anyone else, it's still finding that far too many people just don't "get" diesel. Diesels account for a little over 20% of Volkswagen's total sales. 

Hybrids aren't a huge part of U.S. sales either, but they have captured the American psyche. For drivers who want to go green, hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly popular.

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid aims to be fuel efficient, fun to drive and affordable. With an interesting drivetrain made up of a 1.4L turbocharged engine and a 33-hp electric motor, the Jetta Hybrid, on paper at least, certainly looks different from all of the other hybrids on the market right now, most notably the Toyota Prius, the car's main competition.

So is it different enough to steer buyers away from the Prius? Did someone finally make a "fun" green car, with an engaging ride combined with excellent fuel efficiency, in spite of a glaring flaw possessed by hybrids (ahem regenerative brakes)? Read on to find out.

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How Much?
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How Much?

MSRP: $24,995 - $31,180

Invoice: $23,995 - $29,933

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Key Stats
  • Image Credit: VW

Key Stats

Engine: 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 33-hp electric motor and 220-volt lithium-ion battery pack

Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Fuel Economy: Volkswagen has not released official fuel economy numbers, but they say the Jetta Hybrid gets a combined 45 mpg.

Seating: 5 passengers

Cargo: 11.3 cubic feet

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The Competition
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The Competition

The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid competes most directly with the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius (pictured). VW also says that the Jetta Hybrid competes with the Honda Insight, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Ford C-Max Hybrid.

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What We Like
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What We Like

Michael: The fuel economy of the Jetta Hybrid is pretty stellar. I drove the car for several hours through the mountains of New Mexico the way we auto journalists do (very, very heavy-footed) and I still returned about 45 mpg over the course of the entire trip. Pretty darn impressive considering how the focus of my driving certainly was not on achieving the best possible fuel efficiency.

Additionally, I'm impressed with how low Volkswagen has kept the price of this car. Although it costs more than the standard base Jetta, the hybrid includes both a battery and turbocharger and manages to have an MSRP under $25K (on par with the Prius and Civic Hybrid). This enticing price should be enough to peel away some shoppers who would ordinarily go for the Prius, given that the Jetta is undoubtedly more fun to drive.

Autoblog: Out on the drive loop that combined a short burst of autobahn with some residential and industrial driving, the combination of the turbo'd 1.4 and electric motor proved more than adequate to scoot around town and up to freeway speeds. Nail the throttle past the kick-down point and the "power" gauge taking the place of the tachometer swings from zero, passes 10 and moves into the "Boost" section. Thrust is far from overwhelming, but it feels quicker than the claimed nine-second 0-60 mph run. We'd guess something in the low eights or high sevens.

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What We Don't Like
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What We Don't Like

Michael: The Jetta Hybrid is indeed fun to drive. The engine is great, steering is crisp and the suspension is very nice. But there is a glaring flaw that prevents it from becoming a true driver's vehicle: The brakes. Like other hybrids on the road today, the Jetta Hybrid employs regenerative braking. This means that the car has special brakes that transform kinetic energy into a form of energy that can be used to re-charge the battery.

Regenerative brakes are beneficial in that they end up saving you a lot of gas, but the issue is that they do not act like normal brakes. At all. Regenerative brakes feel squishy, like they might not actually stop the car quickly enough.

These brakes are a vital part of the vehicle, but they take away from the driving experience, due to the fact that they don't perform quite well enough to allow the driver to let this car loose. Is it a dealbreaker? Absolutely not. But, since VW has emphasized over and over that the Jetta Hybrid was engineered to be a truly engaging car on the road, I have to dock a couple of points for this.

Autoblog: The Jetta Hybrid requires premium-unleaded fuel. Bummer.

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Bottom Line
  • Image Credit: VW

Bottom Line

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is undoubtedly one of the most fun-to-drive hybrids on the road today and, for the price, it's a great value. Unfortunately, the regenerative braking takes away from the driving experience a little bit (which is unavoidable) and you're going to spend a little more having to use premium gas, but with solid fuel economy numbers and a great overall driving experience, I'd recommend this car to anyone.

If you're looking to save money on gasoline without compromising much in the way of driving dynamics, interior space, comfort and MSRP, the Jetta Hybrid is for you.

AOL Autos Score:

4/5 Stars


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