2020 Jetta New Car Test Drive
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan returns for the new model year to serve as the companion to the related Golf hatchback. Conservative in its style, the VW Jetta is well-mannered on the road, as well as amply-equipped.
New for 2019, the redesigned Jetta shares few components with its 2018 predecessor. A spirited, turbocharged Jetta GLI has joined the lineup. Alloy wheels and full LED lighting are now standard, and active safety features are widely available.
Crisp sheetmetal marks the new Jetta, which rides atop a sophisticated platform, like that used for Golf and other VW models. While those vehicles employ a multi-link rear suspension, the Jetta retains a simple torsion-beam setup except on the GLI, which gets that independent rear suspension.
Five Jetta trim levels are offered: S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium. Three GLI versions are available: S, Autobahn, and 35th Anniversary Edition.
In all Jettas except the new GLI, a 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine is rated at a modest 147 horsepower, but delivers 184 pound-feet of torque. It mates with either a 6-speed manual (standard on S trim) or an 8-speed automatic.
Beneath the Jetta GLI hood is a different 2.0-liter turbo-4, borrowed from the Golf GTI. It whips up 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. The GLI can have either the manual gearbox or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Active-safety technology is standard on all Jettas except the S trim, which can be similarly equipped by adding a $450 Driver Assistance option package. Safety and driver-assistance features in the group include automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors. SEL trim level adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, automatic high-beam LED headlights, and active lane control.
Crash-testing by the NHTSA resulted in five-star ratings overall and for side-impact, and a four-star rating for frontal impact and for rollover prevention (a calculated figure).
Subpar headlights kept the Jetta from achieving Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Otherwise, the IIHS gave Jetta “Good” scores in all of its instrumented crash tests..
Prices do not include $895 destination charge.
The 2019 VW Jetta S ($18,745 with manual shift, $19,545 with automatic), the base model, is well-equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, cloth upholstery, steering-wheel audio controls, and a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
A $450 Driver Assistance package adds automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
SE ($22,395) comes only with automatic transmission, adding safety features from the Driver Assistance package, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
R-Line ($23,245) features a sportier body kit, fog lights, and 17-inch wheels, and an electronic differential.
SEL ($24,695) gets a 10.25-inch “digital cockpit” screen that replaces conventional gauges, plus 400-watt BeatsAudio, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.
SEL Premium ($27,695) includes the configurable display, along with leather seats, navigation, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and 8-way power driver's seat with memory and lumbar support.
GLI S ($25,995 with manual, $26,795 with DSG dual-clutch) comes with a lowered suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, limited-slip differential, LED headlights and taillights, heated steering wheel, and keyless ignition. Heated cloth sport seats feature red contrast stitching. The 6.5-inch touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitors are included.
GLI 35th Anniversary Edition ($26,995 with manual, $27,795 with DSG) adds unique wheels and adjustable adaptive dampers. Three modes are available: Comfort, Normal, and firmer Sport.
GLI Autobahn ($29,195 with manual, $29,995 with DSG) adds a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated/cooled leather-upholstered seats, power driver's seat with memory and lumbar support, BeatsAudio, and panoramic sunroof..