Volkswagen Jetta: The Germans are in to please with a good-looking, good-driving, and well-equipped sedan that doesn’t break the bank.
- Year, make, model: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T SEL Premium
- Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower
- Seating capacity: Five
- Sets of car seat anchors: Two
- EPA-estimated MPG (as tested): 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway (29 mpg combined)
- Price (as tested): $26,945 ($27,795)
- Related vehicles we’ve tested: Honda Civic, Mazda 6, Chevrolet Malibu
- In a nutshell: Volkswagen’s newest sedan kicks it out of the park with modern looks, a swanky cabin, and a great driving experience. On top of it all, a fuel-efficient engine and a price that won’t make you cringe are among this sedan’s best qualities.
Our Time Behind the Wheel
Oftentimes car buyers with modest budgets are forced to choose one thing over another. You know, if you want a car that looks cool and sporty then you’ll most likely suffer at the pump, or if you choose a sleek and fuel-efficient car then you’ll most likely have to pay more up front. After spending a week with the all-new Jetta, I’m convinced that it’s one of the most enjoyable and affordable sedans I’ve driven in a very long time. In fact, it’s right up there with the Honda Civic and various offerings from Mazda in terms of overall value and enjoyment (and relative affordability).
For starters, the all-new design is awesome. The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta looks modern, it looks clean, and most importantly, it looks different. Call me crazy, but I think it looks Tesla-ish. Second, the interior is pure German. The dash is clean, well-organized, and easy to operate. The seats are comfortable, the entire layout just makes sense. It’s easy to live with. Lastly, it’s a joy to drive.
Despite not possessing a ton of horsepower, the Jetta gets around town effortlessly and with confidence. Its relaxed driving attitude makes it a comfortable daily driver in busy city streets, but it can also get up and go when needed on the highway. In our case, we live near downtown which means lots of stopping and going, where the Jetta’s supple suspension and soft steering are quite welcomed. On the highway, the sedan lives up to its German heritage by feeling “planted” at 70-80 mph without breaking a sweat. And if you’re feeling racy, choose the third of three driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, for a slightly sportier feel of the throttle, steering, and gear shifts.
When it comes to family friendliness, the Jetta proves that not every family must switch to a crossover or SUV. The cabin of the Jetta accommodates five passengers quite comfortably, and our SEL Premium tested was equipped with heated, leather-wrapped seats that were quite pleasant. Although the rear seats aren’t heated (totally okay at this price point), there are rear vents that direct cold or warm air to the rear occupants. Furthermore, parents are able to install two car seats in the rear if so desired/needed.
No need to worry about space for the groceries or anything else life may throw at you, as the Jetta’s 14.1 cubic feet of cargo space is more than enough to handle most daily tasks. Plus, the rear seats are able to fold down to increase cargo capacity for those one-off trips to Ikea. In case you’re wondering, the Civic offers 11.9 cubic feet and the rear seats can also be folded down.
We had to look quite hard to find something we didn’t like, but like most cars, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta isn’t perfect. The virtual cockpit, which is basically an enormous screen that replaces the traditional gauge cluster, can be tricky to operate and you may never have the information you need to be displayed at once. I had to choose between a digital speed readout or mpg, as they were both on different “pages.” Also, the start-stop mechanism seems to propel the car forward just a tad when it comes back on (rather than remain neutral), which can induce a bit of motion sickness on some folks.