As Volkswagens most popular model in the United States by far, the Jetta will get a new safety feature and an additional body style later this model year. Curtain-type airbags that deploy in side collisions to protect the heads of occupants in both the front and rear seats will become standard during 2001. Next spring, a station wagon body style is expected to join the lineup.
Although Jetta is built from the same design as the Golf/GTI and features similar front styling, it is a sedan with a trunk instead of a hatchback. The Golf/GTI also will get the curtain-type airbags later in the model year. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are already standard.
Though the Jetta station wagon has been available in Europe, it will debut for the 2001 model year in the United States.
Other new features this year include optional 17-inch alloy wheels and steering-wheel controls for stereo and cruise control functions, both for the GLS and GLX models.
With its four-door sedan styling, the Jetta has the same sheet metal as the Golf hatchbacks on the front half but is about 9 inches longer at 172 inches overall. The Jetta is a few inches shorter than the Ford Focus or Honda Civic.
The Jetta stands 59 inches tall 2 inches or so taller than most small cars which allows more headroom and a comfortable, upright seating position. Cargo capacity is listed at 13 cubic feet, but the trunk is deep and has more usable space than implied. The split rear seatback folds for additional space.
The dashboard mounts most controls high enough to be seen and reached easily, and the gauges have red needles illuminated by attractive blue backlighting. A 200-watt Monsoon sound system is standard on the GLX and optional on the GLS. All models have standard air conditioning, power door locks and a cassette player.
Under the Hood
Engine choices for the Jetta are the same as on the Golf and GTI. GL and GLS models are available with a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged 1.9-liter, direct-injection, four-cylinder diesel with 90 hp. A turbocharged 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gas engine with 150 hp is optional on the GLS. A 172-hp 2.8-liter V-6 is standard on the GLX and optional on the GLS. All engines come with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
All-speed traction control is standard on models with the V-6 or 1.8-liter turbo. All models come with antilock brakes.
The Jetta blends European character and responsive handling with a functional design that incorporates many features, including standard antilock brakes, side airbags and the amenities most buyers want. There is a choice of four engines, running the gamut from high performance to high fuel economy. A 10-year powertrain warranty, 12-year corrosion warranty and two years of free scheduled maintenance add to the value.
With an impressive array of standard safety features, these are good cars that offer far more than basic transportation.