The Volkswagen Jetta long has been a premium offering in the compact-sedan segment, but with its 2011-model-year redesign VW aimed to make it a more mainstream model by including a new low-priced version in the lineup. Available with a gas or diesel engine, the five-seat Jetta is offered in sedan and wagon body styles. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Ford Focus.
The all-new Jetta Hybrid is covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
In an effort to improve the Jetta’s cabin quality, the SE trim level gains power-reclining front seats, new decorative trim on the dashboard and door panels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather shift knob. The exterior gets chrome cues on the grille and window surrounds. There’s also an adjustable front center armrest for S models with a sunroof.
The SEL model takes it a step further, adding a power-adjustable driver’s seat with manual lumbar, a soft-touch dashboard and a black/beige two-tone interior.
(Skip to details on the: GLI)
The Jetta’s styling is conservative but handsome, and the car forgoes rounded design elements in favor of more angular, creased sheet metal. Rectangular headlights flank the grille. The sedan’s profile is clean-looking but not particularly memorable, and Audi-esque taillights finish off the car’s rear. Exterior features include:
- Standard 15-inch steel wheels
- Standard power-operated heated side mirrors
- Available 16- or 17-inch wheels
- Available body-colored side mirrors with turn-signal indicators
- Available moonroof and fog lights
The Jetta has seating for five. The 60/40-split backseat folds if you need to carry large items that won’t fit in the 15.5-cubic-foot trunk. Overall, the sedan’s interior isn’t as upscale as previous Volkswagens, and that may disappoint some current VW owners who are accustomed to the brand’s use of premium materials and its attention to detail. Standard S trim level features include air conditioning, a four-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary jack and power windows that have a one-touch up/down feature. Interior features include:
- SE models include simulated leather upholstery, cruise control, floormats, center console storage, a center armrest for backseat passengers, a trunk pass-through and illuminated visor mirrors
- Available SE features include heated front seats, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and satellite radio
A 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder is the base engine. A 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder gas engine is available, as is a diesel four-cylinder. Mechanical feature include:
- TDI diesel’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 140 hp and 236 pounds-feet of torque
- Gas engines drive a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission
- Diesel engine pairs with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch transmission
Standard safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for both rows
- Active front head restraints
True to the GLI moniker’s heritage, the Jetta’s uplevel trim packs higher performance and premium features. Under the hood is the automaker’s turbocharged 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder, which for 2013 now makes 210 hp and 207 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic optional.
Other enhancements include a sport-tuned four-wheel independent suspension; lesser Jettas employ a semi-independent rear suspension. A new launch control system is included on GLIs with the dual-clutch transmission, and GLI Autobahn models with navigation now have a backup camera and bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights with LED daytime running lights. Bolstered sport seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel and a touch-screen stereo are standard. Dual-zone automatic climate control, heated simulated leather upholstery and a Fender premium stereo are optional.
Exterior styling changes include a honeycomb grille, vertical fog lamps that mimic those on VW’s GTI hatchback, new LED taillights and dual exhaust tips. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 18-inch alloys optional. Back to top