2018 Jetta New Car Test Drive
The Volkswagen Jetta offers precise handling, good fuel economy and a roomy interior for the compact class.
Volkswagen has dropped two previous powertrains and modified the lineup of its compact sedan for the 2017 model year. Diesel power is gone, due to the company's scandalous use of an illicit device that allowed Jettas to pass U.S. emissions testing. In addition, the Hybrid Jetta has departed because of sluggish sales. That still leaves three engines available for 2017 Jettas.
The 2017 Jetta S was upgraded to include a rearview camera, two-tone cloth upholstery, and 16-inch wheels. The 2017 Jetta GLI comes in one trim level. Jetta SEL Premium, the top trim, is available only on special order.
Last redesigned for the 2011 model year, the sixth-generation Jetta is dated. It has been Volkswagen's top-selling car, despite its conservative, old-fashioned appearance. All Jettas are four-door sedans. The hatchback version is the Golf.
Jetta S and Jetta SE trim levels use a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, with 6-speed automatic optional.
In the Jetta SEL, a 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet, and all come with the 6-speed automatic.
The performance-focused Jetta GLI uses a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, generating 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet. Either a 6-speed manual or Volkswagen's dual-clutch automatic transmission may be installed in the GLI. In addition to 0.6-inch lower ride height and sport-tuned suspension, the GLI features a honeycomb grille, bolder front fascias, 18-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and flat-bottom steering wheel.
Known for precise handling and tempting fuel economy, Jettas compete against such popular compacts as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, and Mazda 3. Jetta's boxy sedan configuration mixes with a traditional cabin layout, making this compact more roomy than some midsize four-doors.
Jettas have earned good, but not perfect, crash-test scores. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it five stars overall, but four stars for frontal impact and rollover protection (a calculated figure, not an actual test). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Good ratings for all tests, including the formidable small-overlap frontal test. IIHS awarded its Top Safety Pick+ designation to the Jetta if equipped with available advanced safety features, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking (standard with SEL trim).
Jetta 1.4T S ($17,895) comes with 1.4-liter engine, 5-speed manual shift, 5.0-inch touchscreen radio, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, and LED daytime running lamps. Jetta 1.4T SE ($20,895) adds a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, heated front seats, keyless access, pushbutton start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, imitation-leather seats, satellite radio, and a 6.3-inch touchscreen. Automatic transmission is available ($1,100) for either model. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Jetta 1.8T SEL ($24,995) has the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission, plus power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium ($26,995), the top trim level, is now available on special order only.
Jetta 2.0T GLI ($27,895) gets the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual gearbox, plus 18-inch wheels, navigation, power driver's seat, parking assistance, Fender premium audio, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Automatic is available.