Vehicle Overview

The Volkswagen Jetta has long been a premium offering in the compact-sedan segment, but with its redesign last year, 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.
New for 2012
The Jetta lineup expands for 2012 with the addition of a high-performance GLI model that's powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder. In addition, the SEL trim adds a Fender premium stereo.
(Skip to details on the GLI)
Exterior
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, fog lights and chrome accents

Interior
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, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and satellite radio
  • SEL models include a touch-screen navigation system, trip computer and driver-side lumbar adjustment   

Under the Hood
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 version's turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel 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

Safety
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

GLI
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 four-cylinder, which makes the same 200 hp and 207 pounds-feet of torque that it did in the prior-generation Jetta GLI. 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. Bolstered sport seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel and a touch-screen stereo are standard. Dual-zone automatic climate control, heated faux 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 turbocharged GTI hatchback, smoked taillights and dual exhaust tips. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 18-inch alloys optional. Back to top