2013 Jetta New Car Test Drive
Volkswagen Jetta comes in a range of models with a choice of engines. Among them is a new Jetta Hybrid model that joins the 2013 Jetta lineup. The Volkswagen Jetta competes with compact cars such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic.
The Jetta sedan was redesigned for 2011 using less sophisticated technologies and lower-cost interior materials, with a lower price, a package with a great deal of value because the Jetta solidity and quality was still there. For 2012, the sporty turbocharged Jetta GLI reclaimed some of the lost content.
The Jetta SportWagen TDI, with its turbocharged TDI Clean Diesel engine (and especially its DSG twin-clutch automanual transmission), has gotten rave reviews for its performance and fuel mileage, 40-plus miles per gallon. Jetta SportWagen rides on the previous-generation Jetta platform and has a more sophisticated suspension.
The base sedan model is the Jetta S, which uses a single-overhead-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 115 horsepower. That engine is an old but solid design.
Jetta SE brings a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that makes more power, 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while getting almost the same fuel mileage. The five-cylinder, 20-valve 2.5-liter engine is a Volkswagen stalwart, with good power. It's capable of propelling the Jetta SE from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds with the 6-speed automatic, and powers Jetta to a top speed of 127 mph. It's EPA-rated at a Combined 26 mpg, about what we got over nearly 500 miles of driving in a Jetta SEL automatic and SEL manual. We prefer the very good automatic.
Most models offer a choice of 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. We found the sport mode for the 6-speed automatic sharp and effective. We used it in city driving, where it responded crisply on San Francisco's hills, and in slow-and-go freeway traffic, where it kept the transmission in third gear rather than upshifting and downshifting all the time. Manual mode can be used for spirited driving, shifting at the lever. It's programmed well, responsive and obedient.
Jetta Hybrid boasts an EPA-estimated 42/48 mpg City/Highway, 45 mpg Combined. We drove a Jetta Hybrid for one week, covering 340 miles, half city and half freeway, and we only got 35 mpg. Jetta Hybrid demands Premium gasoline, while the 2.5-liter five-cylinder on Jetta SE and SEL demands only less-expensive Regular.
The Jetta TDI Sedan and Jetta SportWagen TDI use the latest turbo-diesel direct-injection technology in their engine, making 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, while getting an EPA-rated 30/42 mpg City/Highway.
To keep the price down, Volkswagen uses an old-school rear torsion beam suspension in Jetta S and SE models; the ride is firm, but most owners won't miss a multi-link suspension. The build quality is impressive. The Jetta is quiet at speed and feels solid. Rear disc brakes have been added to these models for 2013, after gripes that the drum brakes on 2011 and 2012 models were archaic.
Jetta shoppers might notice that the interior materials on the base S model aren't of the highest quality; it's not that the materials are cheap, just less rich than they were a few years ago. There are hard plastics that can creak and rattle over the years. But the trim is tasteful, and the standard cloth seats fit well, while the optional V-Tex leatherette upholstery passes easily for real leather. The trim in the SE has been upgraded for 2013.
Jetta Sedan's interior is clean, stylish and comfortable, while being smart, accommodating and functional. There's good headroom front and rear. Rear-seat legroom is first in class at 38.1 inches, nearly as much as a BMW 7 Series. VW makes smart use of cupholders and little storage cubbies. The instruments are handsome, with clean white-on-black numbering.
Jetta GLI brings back all the interior quality. The dashboard is made of a soft-touch material, and there is accent stitching on the shifter, seats and steering wheel. The GLI features a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo engine, accelerating from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds using the magical DSG twin-clutch automated manual transmission. It offers a relaxed, refined sportiness that makes it the most satisfying Jetta to drive.
The SportWagen has a nicer interior and multi-link independent rear suspension. With a shorter wheelbase, it has less rear legroom, but with the cargo room of an SUV and the popular TDI option, the Jetta SportWagen can be a great alternative to a crossover or SUV while offering outstanding fuel economy.
Volkswagen Jetta S sedan ($16,720) comes with the 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 6-speed automatic is optional ($1,100). Standard features include cloth upholstery, air conditioning, interior air filter, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, auxiliary input jack, outside-temperature indicator, variable-intermittent wipers, rear defogger, theft-deterrent system, and P195/65HR15 tires on steel wheels with wheel covers.
Jetta SE ($19,015) uses the 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, and adds V-Tex leatherette upholstery, trunk pass-through, heated power mirrors with turn signals, illuminated visor mirrors, floormats, and P205/55HR16 tires. The Convenience package ($20,330 manual) gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, heated front seats, satellite radio, iPod interface, Bluetooth, heated washers, and alloy wheels. The automatic transmission is optional ($1100) for the S, SE and S SportWagen models.
Jetta S SportWagen ($20,595) comes with the 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, and is far better equipped than the Jetta S sedan, with cruise control, heated power front seats with lumbar adjustment, center console, rear-seat trunk pass-through, heated power mirrors with turn signals, Bluetooth connectivity, heated windshield washer nozzles, illuminated visor mirrors, cargo cover, intermittent rear wiper/washer, floormats, roof rails, and P205/55HR16 tires.
Jetta SE SportWagen ($24,395) comes with the 6-speed automatic transmission, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, trip computer, AM/FM radio with 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3 changer, satellite radio, HD radio, iPod interface and alloy wheels. The SE SportWagen with sunroof ($26,195) includes 17-inch alloy wheels.
Jetta SEL sedan comes with manual ($22,895) or automatic ($23,995) and upgrades with a six-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment; keyless access and starting; sunroof; a 9-speaker, 400-watt Fender sound system; trip computer; fog lights; and P225/45HR17 tires. Navigation is optional.
Jetta Hybrid ($24,995) uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engine with 27-hp electric motor; seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission; front and rear disc brakes; Daytime Running Lights; power and heated exterior mirrors; 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires; rear spoiler and rear diffuser; unique grille; hybrid badging on front, sides and rear; power windows with one-touch up/down; hybrid interior accents; six-way manually adjustable front seats; automatic climate-control; Bluetooth; auxiliary input jack; trip computer; radio with CD player and six speakers; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; 60/40 folding rear seat; and tilt/telescoping steering wheel column. Jetta Hybrid SE ($26,990) adds LED taillights; power recline front seats; Media-Device Interface (MDI) and iPod cable; Premium VIII touch screen radio with color energy flow display in center console; SiriusXM Satellite Radio; and keyless access with push-button start.
Jetta Hybrid SEL ($29,325) adds 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires; a power tilt and slide sunroof; upgraded radio and navigation; heated front washer nozzles; heated front seats; and a six-way power driver's seat. Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium ($31,180) adds bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, Active Front-lighting System (AFS); fog lights with cornering lights; 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires; Fender Premium Audio System with subwoofer; and a rearview camera.
Jetta TDI ($22,990) uses the 140-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel engine. A 6-speed manual is standard, a 6-speed DSG twin-clutch automated manual transmission is optional ($1,100). Jetta TDI is equipped like the SE with Convenience package, but TDI also gets a hill-holder clutch, four-wheel disc brakes and a trip computer. Jetta TDI sedan with Premium package ($24,430) adds a sunroof and the Fender audio system. Jetta TDI with Premium and Navigation ($25,890) adds navigation system, keyless starting, and foglights.
Jetta SportWagen TDI ($25,795) adds a 115-volt power outlet. Also offered are the SportWagen TDI with Sunroof ($27,595), which adds a sunroof and P225/45HR17 tires.
Jetta GLI sedan ($23,945) uses a 200-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. In addition to SE equipment, the GLI has a hill-holder clutch, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, driver-seat lumbar adjustment, satellite radio, iPod interface, Bluetooth, trip computer, cooled glovebox, fog lights, sport suspension, and P225/45HR17 tires on alloy wheels. Jetta GLI Autobahn ($26,195) adds automatic climate control, V-Tex upholstery, heated front seats, sunroof, heated windshield washers, and P225/40HR18 tires. Jetta GLI Autobahn with Navigation ($28,200) has navigation system, keyless access and starting, and the Fender sound system.
Options for Jetta models include a Ground Effects kit with body cladding and chrome exhaust tips; a Protection package with rubber floormats, a cargo net and mudguards; an Appearance package with rubber floormats, a cargo mat, a cargo net and a rear spoiler; iPod interface, Bluetooth; a rear spoiler; P225/45HR17 tires with alloy wheels; and P225/40R18 tires on alloy wheels.
Safety features on all Jettas includes dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake assist, traction control, Electronic Stability Control, and the mandated tire-pressure monitor. The SportWagen and higher-end sedan models have four-wheel disc brakes, while the base sedan models have less-expensive rear drum brakes.