Entry Price: $18,545
Price as Tested: $25,815
This week, were driving the all-new seventh generation 2019 Volkswagen Jetta, delivered in SEL trim and powered by a peppy 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is now the standard engine across the line.
Jetta’s wheelbase is now 1.3-inches longer as it moves over to the Golf platform. The only dimension that went backward since our last drive of a Jetta in 2017 is the trunk cargo room, which drops to 14.1 cu. ft. from 15.7. Notable is less curb weight, as Volkswagen’s use of lighter yet stronger underpinnings results in about a 50-pound lighter vehicle. Coupled with a new eight-speed transmission instead of last generation’s six-speed automatic, the new Jetta does two better MPG in the city (28 versus 30) and then still delivers the 40 MPG the 1.4-turbo did in the past.
With an enhanced exterior design that is classy and refined, it’s what you can’t see at first glance that really sets off the Jetta from the others in class. Specifically, the 2019 Jetta offers available Blind Spot Monitor, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), along with a six-speed manual transmission for a retail price under $20,000. Yes, you read it right.
The entry Jetta S starts at just $18,545 and with the $450 optional driver assistance safety feature, you’re all set for $19,890 retail including $895 delivery. If you want the S trim automatic, add $800.
Following the entry S model, which is the only trim that offers the manual transmission, comes the eight-speed automatic family of Jettas ala SE at $22,155; R-Line at $22,995; our SEL at $24,415; and top line SEL Premium at $26,945. Thus, you can be sure there’s a VW Jetta sitting in the showroom that fits your economic situation. Our SEL came in at a final $25,265 retail including delivery.
Jetta competes against “heavyweight compact” contenders Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic, so any safety or turbo advantages a Jetta can dish up makes it more than competitive. All of these new turbo Jettas are very quick on the low end, so much so we spun the tires a few times on takeoff that actuated the electronic traction control. The engine delivers its top 184-lbs. of torque at just 1,400 rpm, thus the great low end performance. However, once you reach 50 mph and need to pass, the 147 horses comes more into focus and there’s not much torque left. Expect zero to 60 in about 7.5 seconds.
We do recommend the eight-speed automatic over the standard six-speed manual S model as the automatic delivers the same fuel mileage and has a much better resale value as most used car buyers shy away from manual transmissions these days.
The technology on the SEL is impressive and features the new Volkswagen Digital Cockpit that puts everything at your fingertips via steering wheel controls. There’s a Composition Media eight-inch touch screen display with AM/FM/HD and a CD player or Bluetooth for enhanced listening. There are four driver select modes of Normal, Eco, Sport or Custom for your driving preference, all-around rear safety camera, and info on safety like forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot with rear traffic alert, lane keep assist, adaptive smart cruise, high beam control, keyless push-button start, two USB ports (only one on lesser models) a Beats Audio premium stereo sound system with subwoofer, and SiriusXM Satellite. Add the App-Connect smart phone compatibility that highlights the VW Car-Net equipment, and you’ve got a high tech wonder awaiting your transportation needs.
Front and side airbags, four-wheel ABS disc brakes and traction and stability controls work in tandem so driver and passengers are riding in a very safe Volkswagen compact car. (Government crash ratings no yet available, but expect five star). Inside, the new Jetta is aesthetically pleasing but not in the Passat class by any means as there’s more plastic in use than the sibling. Jetta offers very good seating, nice gauges, 60/40 split rear seat, nice lighting, all the powers, floor mats, and more. The new cabin overall is inviting, roomy and nicely appointed. Add a standard power tilt and sliding sunroof and you’re ready to cruise any highway or country road.
The new Jetta suspension features a strut front and torsion beam rear, a bit of a step back from the previous Jetta’s fully independent four-wheel suspension. However, we’re not competing at Lemans in the 24-hour race, so consumers won’t even be aware that a different underpinning is in play. Overall, the front-drive Jetta rides along comfortably and with a good degree of sportiness. Traction comes thanks to 16-inch Bridgestone all-weather tires on nice alloy wheels that also assist in cornering abilities.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.7 inches, 13.2-gallon fuel tank, 2,970 curb weight, 5.6-inch ground clearance, 14.1-cu. ft. of cargo space and a 36.4 ft. turning circle.
The new seventh generation Jetta in any trim is a prime example of Volkswagen engineers delivering a compact sedan that is close to mid-size dimensions. Throw in the wide range of pricing, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Your VW dealer is awaiting your visit to explain any new car incentives and the impressive six-year, 72,000 mile warranty.
My recommendation? The Jetta S with the automatic trans and safety option at $20,690 just might be your best buy. If you want more tech and infotainment, go for the SEL.
Likes: New design, price, roomy, high tech safety.
Dislikes: Only one USB on lower priced trim, no fully-independent suspension anymore.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: All-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Entry Price: $18,545