2021 Jetta New Car Test Drive
Redesigned last year, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is a compact sedan with exceptional refinement and value. It offers a low-stress personality and a high-tech interior. Its fuel economy of 34 mpg makes it one of the most efficient compact cars on the market.
The base engine in the front-wheel-drive Jetta is a 148-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo-4. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but nearly all Jettas that leave VW's assembly plant in Mexico are equipped with an 8-speed automatic.
The Jetta GLI is a more sophisticated design, and uses a 228-hp turbo-4 mated to a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It has strong acceleration and good handling on a slightly lowered suspension, and uses adaptive dampers on the Autobahn version.
The interior is conservative like the exterior. Standard 6.5-inch or optional 8.0-inch touchscreens come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Newly standard for 2020 is a wi-fi hotspot, along with a subscription-based telematics system. Top trims feature a configurable digital instrument cluster and a heated steering wheel, also new for 2020.
The Jetta is EPA-rated at 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined, with either the manual or automatic transmission. The Jetta GLI gets 25/32/28 mpg.
In crash tests, the NHTSA rates the Jetta at five stars overall and the insurance industry-funded IIHS gave it top marks in every test, but its standard LED headlights were considered subpar.
Automatic emergency braking is standard on all but the base Jetta S, where it's optional in a $500 Driver Assistance Package that also includes blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts.
The Jetta comes as S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium, R-Design and GLI S or GLI Autobahn.
The Jetta S comes with power features, cloth upholstery, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and alloy wheels. A manual transmission is standard, although most Jettas will have the 8-speed automatic.
The $22,000 SE adds synthetic leather, automatic climate control, a power moonroof, and automatic emergency braking.
The Jetta SEL Premium costs around $28,000, and is better equipped than some luxury cars costing many thousands more. It comes with leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a 10.3-inch configurable instrument cluster, Beats audio, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and more.
The Jetta GLI S for $27,000 has heated cloth seats and 6.5-inch touchscreen. The Autobahn adds adaptive dampers to deliver a softer ride.
All Jettas are backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.