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$18,995 - 31,545 MSRP

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Pros & Cons

  • Great gas mileage with base engine
  • Comfortable ride
  • User-friendly infotainment features
  • Roomy seats
  • Dull handling
  • Few standard safety features
  • Mixed interior quality

New for 2021

  • Power-adjustable driver's seat expands to more trims
  • New infotainment system
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay get wireless capability
  • GLI Autobahn gains more active safety features

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta's #9 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Volkswagen Jetta has a score of 7.5 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 23 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.7
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 7.3
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.9 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Volkswagen Jetta a Good Car?

The VW Jetta is a fine car. It offers a lot of passenger room for a vehicle of this size, as well as intuitive infotainment features and great fuel economy. Years ago, that would have been enough to make this Volkswagen very competitive in the class. Now, the highest-ranking compact cars deliver agile handling, peppy acceleration, and interior quality that borders on luxury. The Jetta falters in those areas.

Why You Can Trust Us: 23 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 23 Volkswagen Jetta reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2021 Jetta is the right new car for you.

This 2021 Jetta review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2019.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Jetta?

The Jetta is a sensible, if unexciting, pick for pulling daily duty in relative comfort. It offers great gas mileage, a roomy rear seat, and an accommodating trunk. Starting at around $19,000, it's a decent value, but you'll have to spend several hundred to several thousand dollars extra for active safety features beyond a rearview camera or to get an automatic transmission or upgraded infotainment system. Ultimately, we recommend shopping around the class before settling on this Volkswagen.

Find a 2021 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Volkswagen Jetta: What's the Difference?

There are a few differences between the 2021 and 2020 Jetta. For 2021, the SE and SEL trims gain a power-adjustable driver's seat, and trims with the optional 8-inch touch screen get new software that improves voice recognition and navigation, as well as allowing for wireless smartphone integration. Finally, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights are newly optional in the Jetta GLI.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Jetta »

Here are the key changes for the Volkswagen Jetta over the last few years:

  • 2017: gained standard rearview camera
  • 2018: Wolfsburg trim introduced
  • 2019: fully redesigned with two new engine choices, more powerful Volkswagen GLI trim, larger infotainment screen sizes, and several newly available features
  • 2020: Wi-Fi hot spot became standard; heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and wireless device charging added to standard features list in SEL trim
  • 2021: power-adjustable driver's seat now available in more trims; revamped infotainment system; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay gain optional wireless capability; more active safety features now available in GLI Autobahn

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Jetta, 2019 Jetta, and 2020 Jetta reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on vehicles such as a new Jetta.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Jetta Cost?

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta starts at $18,995, which is slightly below average for the base price of a compact car. However, that's for a model with a manual transmission; the lowest-priced automatic Jetta is $19,795. Higher trim levels increase in price by a few thousand dollars up to the SEL Premium’s $28,045.

The price of the performance-oriented 2021 Jetta GLI ranges from $26,345 to $31,545. The GLI has two trim levels, and each is available with a manual or an automatic transmission.

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

Volkswagen Jetta vs. Volkswagen GTI

The Volkswagen GTI is a top-ranked compact car. Though we dedicate an entire review to it, the GTI is actually a trim of the Volkswagen Golf. The Golf GTI is one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class, thanks to deft handling and a peppy 228-horsepower engine. That's the same turbo-four powertrain found in the Jetta GLI. Of these two Volkswagen vehicles, the GTI features a higher-class interior, and as a hatchback, it offers up a ton of cargo room. The Golf GTI is also one of the most expensive cars in the class, and it costs a few thousand dollars more than the comparable Jetta GLI. If you prioritize performance, however, the former is basically a slam-dunk choice.

Compare the Jetta and GTI»

Volkswagen Jetta vs. Honda Civic

In nearly every way, the Honda Civic is a better car than the VW Jetta. The Civic is available in coupe, sedan, and hatchback body styles, and it also offers a wide range of engine options. There's a configuration for most budgets and priorities. You'll get a handsome cabin with the Civic, along with a sporty ride and a long list of standard driver assistance features. The most notable advantage the Jetta has is a more user-friendly infotainment system, but that isn't enough to recommend it over the Civic.

Compare the Jetta and Civic »

Compare the Jetta, GTI, and Civic »

Jetta Interior: Functional but Not So Flashy

Jetta Cargo Space

The Volkswagen Jetta's trunk measures 14.1 cubic feet. Compared to other sedans in the compact car class, that's a pretty good amount of space. The 60/40-split rear seats fold down but not flush with the trunk floor. That means you can haul longer items, but it may be difficult to fit bulkier cargo. And while the trunk is wide and deep, the trunk hinges dip into the space a bit.

How Many People Does the Jetta Seat?

The Jetta sedan holds five people. There's ample head- and legroom in both rows, making this VW one of the roomiest cars in the class. Rear-seat legroom is especially impressive. The front seats are sufficient, but you might wish for more support.

Jetta and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Jetta’s rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are easy to find since they're exposed in plastic surroundings and not hidden in the seat cushions.

Jetta Interior Quality

Most of the Jetta's cabin materials are of good quality and soft to the touch. However, noticeable harder plastics on frequent-contact surfaces such as the doors and center console keep the car from feeling as upscale as some class contenders.

Jetta Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2021 VW Jetta comes standard with a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system. That size display is fairly small for a current new car, but the interface is straightforward and user-friendly. Physical knobs and controls are clearly marked and laid out intuitively. Standard Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and other smartphone mirroring add a degree of convenience.

Higher trims come with an 8-inch touch screen that features the new MIB3 software. This results in quicker processing times and enhanced performance for voice recognition and navigation. This setup also gives you wireless App-Connect smartphone integration.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.5-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and a four-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, satellite radio, navigation, a six-speaker stereo, and an eight-speaker BeatsAudio stereo
  • Other available features: an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, remote start, and interior ambient lighting

Read more about interior »

Jetta Performance: You Won't Be Jetting Around

Jetta Engine

The VW Jetta comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine good for 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. If that horsepower figure seems unimpressive, it's because it is. There's enough muscle for drama-free acceleration from a stop, but power tapers off as you approach higher speeds. For freeway merging or passing, the Jetta can feel lethargic.

Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, and both are a bright spot of the powertrain. The manual helps the car feel engaging and gives you more control over the engine's power. The automatic delivers smooth and timely shifts and doesn't hesitate to downshift when you hit the gas hard.

If you're looking for livelier performance, turn to the Jetta GLI and its 2.0-liter turbo engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It kicks a lot harder from the get-go and provides ample passing power when you're moving faster. Instead of the base model's optional eight-speed automatic transmission, GLI models are available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that has paddle shifters for more engagement.

Jetta Gas Mileage

The Jetta with its base four-cylinder engine and either transmission returns an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Those figures are great for a compact car. The GLI gets an estimated 25 mpg in the city. With the manual transmission, you can expect 33 mpg highway and with the automatic 32 mpg highway.

Jetta Ride and Handling

This VW isn't particularly athletic. There's little steering feel or feedback from the road, and handling is fairly unimpressive. Instead, the focus is on ride comfort. The Jetta travels smoothly and confidently over bumps and uneven pavement.

The Jetta GLI has a retuned suspension for more sportiness and confidence around turns. It sacrifices little in ride quality though, delivering a stable and composed experience.

Read more about performance »

Jetta Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Jetta Reliable?

The 2021 Jetta has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen Jetta Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Jetta with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Jetta Safety

Jetta Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The Jetta earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Jetta.

Jetta Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers

Read more about safety »

Jetta Dimensions and Weight

The Jetta is 15.4 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 2,897 to 3,294 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta Built?

Volkswagen builds the 2021 Jetta in Mexico.

Which Volkswagen Jetta Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta comes in five trims: S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium. All come with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and an eight-speed automatic is optional.

It's worth upgrading to the SE trim, which adds synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and several active safety features. The SEL trim is the pick for the best infotainment, as it comes with a larger touch screen, the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, wireless device charging, and an upgraded stereo.

The Jetta GLI is a performance-oriented model. It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and is available in S and Autobahn trims.

Volkswagen Jetta S

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta S starts at $18,995. Standard features include cloth upholstery and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and a four-speaker stereo.

An automatic transmission is optional for $800. The $500 Driver Assistance package includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and heated outside mirrors.

Volkswagen Jetta SE

The Volkswagen Jetta SE starts at $22,895 and comes standard with the eight-speed automatic transmission. This trim gains V-Tex synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, heated outside mirrors, and a rear-seat center armrest. It also includes safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

The optional Cold Weather package costs $500 and adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and remote start.

Volkswagen Jetta R-Line

The Jetta R-Line retails for $22,795 with a manual transmission and $23,595 with an automatic transmission. Its amenities mostly mirror those found in the SE, but it gains unique exterior appearance features, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an upgraded differential.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL

With a base price of $25,745, the automatic transmission-only Jetta SEL features a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and interior ambient lighting. It also boasts an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio stereo, and satellite radio. Additional driver assistance features include rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

The Jetta SEL Premium costs $28,045 and includes genuine leather upholstery, front sport seats, navigation, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory settings.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI S

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI S has a starting MSRP of $26,345. The manual transmission is standard, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters is optional for $800. Features include performance front brakes, a sport steering wheel, stainless steel pedal covers, cloth upholstery, a six-speaker stereo, and the 6.5-inch touch screen. Standard safety features include rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

The top-of-the-line GLI Autobahn starts at $30,745. This trim's list of additional features includes an adaptive damping suspension, a sunroof, a power-adjustable driver's seat, genuine leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a BeatsAudio stereo, an 8-inch touch screen, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, satellite radio, and wireless device charging.

New for 2021, the GLI Autobahn also comes with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.

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 2021 Volkswagen Jetta specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta impresses with good passenger space, a fuel-efficient base engine, and agreeable technology, but it lags behind many of its rivals in the compact car class in performance and cabin quality.

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

  • "The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta looks and feels like more than a $20,000 sedan, but owners of earlier versions may find this seventh-generation VW sedan a bit too cushy and refined." -- Autotrader
  • "The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta is a solid choice for folks who want a budget-friendly and fuel-efficient compact car. It costs less and sips fuel better than its hatchback sibling, the VW Golf, which is similar under the skin. Although the standard Jetta will satisfy pragmatists, it doesn't deliver the driving verve to entice enthusiasts." -- Car and Driver
  • "The … Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan has never been better. … The technology and safety features are fresh, with driving abilities that are both refined and athletic. Space and comfort are two more strong points. The pricing is also reasonable." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 16, 2020

Weak Demand: The Jetta is currently selling in the middle of the compact car segment, with class titans like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla outperforming it on the sales lots by more than 2 to 1. Year over year sales have been slow, with dealerships moving 23.1 percent fewer Jettas to date in 2020 compared to the same period last year.

Research more buying advice »
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2021 Volkswagen Jetta

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