Volkswagen has redesigned its best-selling car in the U.S., the Jetta, and given it fresh styling and the latest advanced safety features, while continuing to provide the usual roomy and functional cabin that’s been a trademark of the Jetta.
Visually, the 2019 Jetta is a more interesting design than its predecessor. Volkswagen added some pizazz to latest Jetta, by broadening the grille—adding creases in the hood and providing a strong character line on each flank. The Jetta looks more contemporary now, yet does not go to the styling extremes of some of its competition.
Inside, the new Jetta displays the understated look that we have come to expect from Volkswagen. Interior colors are either a muted gray or black. The dash is functionally designed so that it cants toward the driver. The large, 8-inch touchscreen, and the climate controls are easy to read and access. Bins and cubbies are small, but handy. Two USB ports are available for electronic devices.
The Jetta is roomy for a compact sedan. Front passengers have comfortable seats with plenty of back and forth movement. The driver get a height adjuster too. Those in the rear have a surprising amount legroom, even if there’s a tall person in front of them. The trunk is spacious as well (14.1 cu-ft.) with room for a half-dozen suitcases.
Under the hood, VW powers the Jetta with just one engine—until the sporty GLI model join the lineup. It’s the 1.4-liter turbo that it used in the last generation Jetta. This motor generates a modest, but adequate, 147 horsepower. It’s hooked up to either a new 6-speed manual gearbox (base model only) or a new 8-speed automatic. My test car had the automatic, which shifted seamlessly. The Jetta delivers an impressive 34 mpg in combined city/hwy. driving.
On the road, the revamped Jetta delivers competent handling and a comfortable ride. Drivers can select various drive modes to suit their driving style. I preferred using the “Sport” mode, which tightened the steering, quickened throttle response and altered the shift pattern of the automatic transmission. It made this Jetta feel like Jettas I remembered from the past. At the same, the ride was compliant, even over rough pavement.
Volkswagen offers the Jetta in five trim levels, S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium. The Base S is a good deal at $19,395. It comes with cloth upholstery, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a touchscreen display and Bluetooth. However, the SE ($23,005) should be more popular with upgrades like, a standard automatic transmission, a sunroof, leatherette seats and a suite of safety equipment that includes blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and forward-collision warning/ braking.
Next up the ladder, the sporty Jetta R-Line ($23,845)delivers gloss black exterior trim and an XDS differential. Then there’s the SEL ($25,265) that provides interior upgrades, such as a digital dash display, a BeatsAudio system, as well as additional safety features, like lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Topping the list, the SEL Premium ($27,795) gives you the whole enchilada, with leather upholstery, navigation and heated seats front and rear.
The 2019 Jetta will no doubt please Volkswagen fans, and it should also have greater appeal to others shopping for a small, four-door sedan.