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MSRP: $18,745 - 29,995

7.7

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.5
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 7.4
Safety: 8.9
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Review

The redesigned 2019 Volkswagen Jetta finishes near the bottom of our compact car rankings. While you'll be comfortable driving around in the Jetta, the simple truth is that many class rivals are superior to this VW when it comes to things like interior quality and driving enjoyment.

Pros & Cons

  • Good gas mileage
  • Smooth ride
  • All-day supportive seats
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Competitors are more upscale
  • Less fun-to-drive than rivals

Is the Volkswagen Jetta a Good Car?

The Volkswagen Jetta is a decent car. It earns good gas mileage while delivering a smooth ride, and its trunk offers a good amount of space for the compact car class. The Jetta's unimpressive ranking boils down to the fact that other cars in this segment are more well-rounded. For example, many rivals are more athletic, boasting better handling and stronger engines. Several also have higher-quality materials throughout the cabin.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Jetta?

While there are reasons to consider the Jetta, it's hard to recommend it when so many class rivals offer everything this Volkswagen does and then some. Also, the Jetta's price tag is typical for the class, so it's not like it's a substantially better value than its brethren. Most buyers should consider cars like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus.

Compare the Jetta, Civic, and Focus »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Jetta?

The Volkswagen Jetta is redesigned for the 2019 model year. The new Jetta gets better fuel economy than the outgoing model, but it only offers two engines, whereas the 2018 model gave you three choices. It's worth noting, however, that while the 2018 and 2019 base engines have comparable horsepower ratings (differing by only about 3 horses), the 2019 GLI model has 18 more horsepower than the outgoing version.

The new Jetta also has a smaller trunk than the 2018 model (by 1.6 cubic feet), and legroom in both rows decreases marginally (by less than three-quarters of an inch at most), though most reviewers still find there is plenty of room in both rows. The 2019 model has a larger standard touch screen than the old Jetta's largest offering. It also offers previously unavailable features, including leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

It is possible for you to save money by purchasing a used Jetta, but you won't get the benefits of the vehicle's redesign. If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Jetta review to help you decide if you can live without the 2019 model's additional features.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Volkswagen Jetta »
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How Much Does the Volkswagen Jetta Cost?

The Jetta’s base retail price of $18,745 isn’t unreasonable for a compact sedan. Many class rivals are more expensive, though several have lower starting prices. There are four higher Jetta trims, with the top-of-the-line SEL Premium carrying a starting price of $27,695.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Jetta Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Jetta or Ford Focus?

The Ford Focus provides a much more diverse powertrain lineup than the Jetta, including two high-performance options and an all-electric option (for an electric VW compact car, check out the VW e-Golf). The Focus generally delivers a smooth ride, but it handles much more adeptly than the Volkswagen and is considerably more fun to drive. The Ford's cabin quality matches its price point, and while the front seats provide adequate comfort, the rear seats are cramped. The Focus sedan's trunk is smaller than the Jetta's, but the Focus is available in a hatchback body style for those who want more space. The choice between these two boils down to whether you'd prefer a more fun-to-drive car or a more practical, spacious interior.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Jetta or Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic challenges for the top spot in our compact car rankings almost every year. It's available in coupe, sedan, and hatchback body styles, and the sedan and hatchback have more cargo space than the Jetta. The Civic's cabin looks and feels upscale, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. The Civic has several engine choices that deliver more horsepower than the Jetta's base engine, and the Civic is more agile. The two have similar price tags as well. The Jetta has a better predicted reliability rating, but even so, go with the Honda.

Compare the Jetta, Focus, and Civic »

Jetta Interior

How Many People Does the Jetta Seat?

This four-door sedan seats five people, and the seats remain supportive even on long drives. They're also comfortable, and most reviewers think there is ample space in both rows.

Jetta and Child Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing car seats on the Jetta's rear outboard seats, as well as a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Jetta's LATCH system an ease-of-use rating of Acceptable, noting that the lower anchors can be tricky to maneuver around.

Jetta Interior Quality

The Jetta's cabin is nice, but it won't blow you away. It remains quiet at highway speeds and features some soft-touch materials, but you can also spot some hard plastics that detract from the overall feel.

Jetta Cargo Space

The Jetta provides just over 14 cubic feet of cargo space, which is enough room for about 10 pieces of carry-on luggage. That's a good amount of room for this class, and you can fold down the rear seats if you need to carry larger items.

Jetta Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Jetta include the MIB II infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth, and VW Car-Net App-Connect, which includes connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Available features include a sunroof, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, additional VW Car-Net services, and an additional USB port.

The Jetta features a user-friendly infotainment system with plenty of smartphone connectivity technology and a responsive, easy-to-see touch screen. The dash controls are smartly arranged, but some of them might be a long reach for taller drivers.

Read more about interior »

Jetta Performance

Jetta Engine: The GLI Is Spryer

The Jetta features a decent 147-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder base engine. Some class rivals have more power and provide quicker acceleration, but the Jetta's engine is adequate on both counts and moves this small sedan without any trouble. For a more athletic feel, upgrade to the Jetta GLI, which features a 228-horsepower turbo-four.

Jetta Gas Mileage: Pretty Great

The VW Jetta gets excellent fuel economy for a nonhybrid car, earning 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The Jetta will cost you about the same amount in gas money each year as another highly efficient car, the Honda Civic. But the Volkswagen will save you about $150 per year compared to the Ford Focus. The Jetta GLI is rated at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with either the manual or automatic transmission.

Jetta Ride and Handling: Easy to Drive

The Jetta isn't the little sports sedan it used to be, but this VW still handles winding roads with competence and doesn't roll too much around turns. It also rides more smoothly than some other compact cars.

Read more about performance »

Jetta Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Jetta Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Volkswagen Jetta Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Jetta with a six-year/72,000-mile limited warranty. This is a longer warranty than many competitors provide.

Read more about reliability »

Jetta Safety

Jetta Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 Jetta the highest rating of Good in six crash tests, but its headlights received the second-lowest rating of Marginal for outward visibility. 

We named the 2019 Jetta the Best Car for Teens $20K to $25K because of its strong crash test scores and lengthy list of available active safety features.

Jetta Safety Features

The Jetta comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Jetta Model Is Right for Me?

You get six main options when picking a VW Jetta trim (S, SE, R-Line, SEL, SEL Premium, and GLI). All but the GLI feature a 147-horsepower turbo-four engine and front-wheel drive. The performance-oriented GLI models come with a 228-horsepower turbo-four. Most trims don't offer many optional features, so you generally have to move up in trim level to get more technology.

With that in mind, the SE makes a fine choice for many buyers. It has some nice comfort and convenience features, as well as an array of driver assistance technology, yet it costs thousands less than the top trims. If you have a little extra room in your budget, consider the SEL trim, which costs about $2,000 more than the SE and adds several infotainment upgrades and more active safety tech.

Volkswagen Jetta S

The Jetta S has a base price of $18,745. Standard features include a six-speed manual transmission, cloth upholstery, a rearview camera, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, VW Car-Net App-Connect, and Bluetooth.

For $800, you can ditch the manual transmission for an eight-speed automatic, and for $450 you can add the Driver Assist package, which includes forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Volkswagen Jetta SE

The Jetta SE starts at $22,395. In addition to the base trim's standard features, the SE comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a sunroof, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking.

For $495, you can add the Cold Weather package, which includes remote start, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Volkswagen Jetta R-Line

The Jetta R-Line starts at $23,245. The R-Line has some styling upgrades and comes with the XDS differential, but its interior features are virtually identical to the SE's. You can add the Cold Weather package for $495.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL

The Jetta SEL starts at $24,695. It comes with leather upholstery, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, additional VW Car-Net services, and an additional USB port. You can add the Cold Weather package for $495.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

The Jetta SEL Premium is the top trim, and it has a starting price of $27,695. This trim comes standard with just about every feature you can get in a Jetta.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The Jetta GLI is the performance model of this sedan, and it starts at $25,995 for the GLI S. All GLI models feature a 228-horsepower turbocharged engine. It's available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring.

There are two higher GLI trims: the 35th Anniversary Edition and the Autobahn, starting at $26,995 and $29,195, respectively. They add some different styling touches and come with more standard features, including ventilated front seats, a larger touch screen, a panoramic sunroof, synthetic leather upholstery, and Volkswagen Car-Net.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2019 Volkswagen Jetta specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Volkswagen Jetta looks and feels different after its 2019 redesign, but it still doesn't stand out in the crowded compact car segment. That's why it finishes near the bottom of our class rankings. There are plenty of reasons to like the Jetta, but you might find better options if you shop around.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • As a package, the Jetta feels only a little bit above average. It's finally shed its relentlessly boring trappings to become attractive, and it offers good fuel economy and a nice set of features. What hurts the Jetta is its middling ride and handling and uninspiring powertrain. If you don't care about having a particularly engaging car, the latest Jetta will serve you just fine. But if you want a bit more soul in your commute, you'd be much better off with a Civic, a Mazda3 or even the Jetta's own cousin, the Golf." -- Autoblog
  • While Volkswagen seems to take a few steps backwards with the 2019 Jetta's redesign, overall VW has made a good compact 4-door sedan even better." -- New York Daily News
  • In an era when Toyota is making an effort to make its cars more engaging to drive, Volkswagen, at least in its mainstream models, seem to be walking away from its once-defining trait. Clearly, the new Jetta is no longer a budget sports sedan. Instead, it's an easy-going car that piles on the room, comfort, ease of use, modern connectivity, and upscale features." -- Consumer Reports

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: September 19, 2019

Strong Demand: Sales of the Jetta have been climbing rapidly following the release of the fully redesigned model last year. So far in 2019, Volkswagen dealerships have sold an impressive 31.8 percent more Jetta models relative to the same time frame in 2018. The Jetta is selling in the upper half of the compact car segment.

Research more buying advice »
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