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2016 Volkswagen Jetta Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2016 Volkswagen Jetta makes a great car for daily driving, thanks to its peppy acceleration, comfortable ride, and poised handling. If you need more power than the base engine offers, you can find a more potent engine in higher trims. Driving enthusiasts should consider the Jetta GLI, which accelerates quickly from a stop and has a sport-tuned suspension. If you want to save at the pump, note that the Jetta Hybrid earns excellent fuel economy estimates for the class.

  • For the most part, the Jetta range provides a composed and capable ride that should keep everyone comfortable. Although it probably won't be too thrilling." -- AutoTrader
  • The 2016 Volkswagen Jetta is a comfortable car to drive, but others surpass it when it comes to cornering prowess." -- Edmunds
  • "Out on the winding country roads, the refreshed Jetta handled its business well enough, and it will prove more than satisfactory for most drivers." – Automobile Magazine (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The base Jetta's turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine should provide satisfactory power. It delivers energetic acceleration, so you'll be able to dodge your way through city traffic and easily merge onto the highway. A more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is available in higher trims, and it generates greater muscle without a significant reduction in fuel economy.

Models equipped with the base engine and an automatic transmission earn 28/39 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class. A Jetta with the larger engine and automatic transmission gets 25/36 mpg city/highway, which is good compared to rivals with similar horsepower. A manual transmission is also available if you prefer to shift for yourself.

The Jetta is also available in a high-performance GLI trim, which comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 210 horsepower, and it has a six-speed manual transmission or available automated manual transmission. The Jetta GLI feels powerful and delivers quick acceleration off the line.

See a full list of specs »

  • "A new 1.4-liter turbo in the S and SE delivers good acceleration and great fuel economy, while the 1.8-liter turbo delivers more punch with nearly identical fuel economy." – Kelley Blue Book
  • "With the ancient 2.0-liter base engine replaced by the more powerful and efficient 1.4-liter turbo, the Jetta has the most appealing powertrain lineup in the segment. While we have not sampled the new engine, its specs on paper are competitive, and we've yet to meet a Volkswagen turbo-4 we didn't like. On that note, the 1.8-liter turbo that comes standard on the Sport and SEL trims is a fantastic offering, boasting impressive acceleration, smooth refinement and relatively thrifty fuel economy." -- Edmunds
  • "For anything approaching real fun, check out the GLI, which positions itself as the sedan version of VW's brilliant GTI hatchback. Taking 6.7 seconds to sprint from standstill to 60 miles per hour doesn't sound that fast, but the GLI seems a little quicker when going by seat-of-the-pants feel." -- AutoTrader

Alternative Powertrains

Volkswagen offers the Jetta with a hybrid powertrain using an electric motor paired with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. If you are environmentally conscious or just want to save at the pump, the hybrid may be a good choice for you. The VW Jetta Hybrid gets up to 42/48 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class and good for a hybrid.

Ride, Handling, and Braking

While the base Jetta isn't particularly sporty, it's poised enough to give you the confidence to zip around turns. Still, the Jetta is primarily tuned for comfort, and it cushions you from rough roads better than some competitors. The Jetta has strong, responsive brakes, so you’ll be able to stop quickly when you need to.

If you're the sort of driver who likes to really push a car's limits on twisty roads, you’ll like that the Jetta GLI comes with a sport-tuned suspension and is more athletic than the base model. However, some rivals, like the Ford Focus ST or even the Volkswagen GTI, are nimbler around corners, so you may want to look elsewhere before buying.

  • "Common traits for all Jettas are excellent road manners, responsive steering and brakes and a penchant for tackling tight turns." – Kelley Blue Book
  • [Non-GLI Jettas] … ride smoothly and comfortably, but so do some other rival sedans that also manage to feel more alive and engaging when driving around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "The sedan's ride is compliant, like always, seemingly offering a little more protection from bumps than compact-car rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla." -- AutoTrader (2015)

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