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8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.7
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.8
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Review

From an economical commuter car, to a safe family four-door, to a lively performance-focused sedan – there's a 2017 Volkswagen Jetta model to suit most shoppers. It’s a good car overall, though drawbacks such as a plain interior lower its standing in our compact car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Base powertrain is fuel-efficient
  • Ample power
  • Agile handling
  • Large trunk
  • Interior filled with hard plastics on lower trims

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

Is the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta a Good Used Car?

The Volkswagen Jetta is a good car in many ways. The same can be said of its many competitors though, and the Jetta sometimes struggles to make a name for itself. It’s a great choice if you want a safe and economical sedan with some German tuning. The midlevel SEL trim ups the horsepower without drastically increasing the price tag. Driving enthusiasts will want to bypass the lower trims in favor of the Jetta GLI, a performance-tuned sedan that stands in as an affordable alternative to the BMW 3 Series. However, with the exception of the range-topping GLI, the Jetta's cabin has too many hard plastics and not enough up-to-date styling elements.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the Volkswagen Jetta in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 66 professional Volkswagen Jetta reviews.

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Is the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta?

In general, you can buy a 2017 Jetta for a little less than what many other compact cars cost. Prices range from about $12,000 to $20,500, with $14,500 being the median price tag. These estimates are based on more than 1,400 used listings for the 2017 Jetta on our site. The actual list price varies with the vehicle’s mileage, condition, trim level, and regional demand.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta Cost to Own?

It typically costs more to fuel, insure, repair, and maintain a 2017 Jetta than it does other compact cars like the 2017 Toyota Corolla and 2017 Honda Civic. Over five years, these expenses run about $24,000 for the Jetta, which is two to three thousand dollars more than estimates for the Corolla and Civic.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Jetta?

If you're looking for the best deal, take a pass on buying a new Jetta in favor of a 2017 model. By doing so, you'll save about $4,000 and get nearly the same car. That's the difference between the average price of a 2017 Jetta and the starting MSRP of a 2018 Jetta.

If you want a new Jetta and like the performance and fuel economy of the base engine, consider the 2019 Jetta. The 2019 model year kicks off a new generation for Jetta, which has a vastly improved interior. The amount of space per person expands in nearly every direction. Apple CarPlay is now standard, and even the base trim can be outfitted with advanced safety systems like automatic emergency braking. On the downside, the 2019 Jetta only offers the 2017 previous generation’s base engine (buyers will have to wait another year for the new Jetta GLI). The redesigned Jetta also has a slightly smaller trunk than the outgoing model.

Starting with the 2018 model year, Volkswagen doubled the Jetta's warranty. Now, you'll get bumper-to-bumper coverage for up to six years or 72,000 miles.

Read about the new Volkswagen Jetta »

No new compact cars have starting prices as low as the 2017 Jetta’s average price. However, a few new subcompact cars are available for less than $15,000. Of these, the 2018 Kia Rio hatchback (starting at $14,200) is one of the roomiest. Although its cargo area is larger than the Jetta's, its rear seats may be too cramped for tall travelers. For sharper handling, take a test drive in a 2018 Ford Fiesta. Like the Rio, it comes in both sedan and hatchback body styles. It’s also fun to drive, which helps it outshine other small cars. Pricing starts at $14,205.

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Which Model Year of the Volkswagen Jetta Is Best? 

Volkswagen launched the sixth generation Jetta with the 2011 model. In the years leading up to the 2017 model year, our scores are highest for 2015-and-later Jettas. These models benefit from a mid-cycle refresh that resulted in improved crash test results, among other changes. Things got even better for 2016, when a new turbocharged engine, a touch-screen infotainment display, and a USB port joined the standard features list. We recommend the 2017 Jetta. It provides the best overall value, and its average price is not far off from that of the 2016 model.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Jetta »

How Reliable Is the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta?

The 2017 Jetta has an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Read more about Jetta reliability »

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Recalls

The 2017 Jetta has four open recalls as of the date of this review. Two recalls address a potentially incorrect tire information label. The two other recalls are limited. One corrects a potential engine failure, and the other deals with mismatched VIN plates.

See more information on Volkswagen Jetta safety recalls »

Which Used Volkswagen Jetta Model Is Right for Me?

The 2017 Jetta’s trim levels make it easy to identify which of the Jetta’s turbocharged engines is under the hood. The standard 1.4-liter four-cylinder comes in the Jetta S and Jetta SE. A stronger 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Jetta SEL, while the GLI boasts a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with the most power in the lineup.

For the best value, we recommend buying a Jetta SE. Out of all the engine choices, the SE's 1.4-liter four-cylinder is the most fuel-efficient. Travelers will also enjoy its larger touch screen, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and added safety features. Niceties like synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a sunroof add a touch of class to an otherwise basic interior.

See 2017 Volkswagen Jetta trims and specs »

Certified Pre-Owned Volkswagen Jetta Warranty

It's worth considering a certified pre-owned Jetta for the extra coverage it provides. Volkswagen has a decent CPO program. However, you may get better coverage or benefits if you buy a CPO model from another brand, like Honda or Toyota. Volkswagen CPO warranties vary depending on model. See your VW dealer for information. CPO vehicles must pass a 100-plus point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Volkswagen warranty page carefully.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Volkswagen certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the Jetta?

While the Jetta received very respectable crash test scores, they don't quite match the safety ratings of some top rivals. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Jetta a 2017 Top Safety Pick+, the organization’s highest accolade. In IIHS testing, the Jetta earned the highest score of Good in six out of seven tests, and the second-highest grade of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The IIHS also noted that editions outfitted with the optional Front Assist system (which includes autonomous emergency braking) offer an Advanced level of front crash prevention.

The 2017 Jetta received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with five out of five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Every 2017 Jetta comes with a rearview camera. Some models also have advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and forward collision warning with automatic braking.

See Jetta safety scores »

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2017 Volkswagen Jetta or 2017 Honda Civic?

If you're after a fun-to-drive compact car, the 2017 Honda Civic should absolutely be on your short list. Available in sedan, coupe, and hatchback body styles, this sprightly car has enthusiastic engines, agile handling, and a stable yet comfortable ride. There's plenty to love inside as well. If the Jetta interior isn't as plush as you’d like, you're sure to swoon over the Civic's more upscale cabin. All in all, it's the better choice out of these two.

Which Is Better: 2017 Volkswagen Jetta or 2017 Toyota Corolla?

What the 2017 Toyota Corolla lacks in charisma, it makes up for in practicality. Every model comes with an impressive amount of advanced safety features, and the Corolla earned higher crash test scores than the Jetta. This sedan also has one of the highest predicted reliability ratings in its class. It's comfortable too, with the 2017 refresh adding more soft touch points and style to the spacious interior. It's a smart buy if you're comfortable relinquishing engaging performance for a sensible small car. But ultimately, either car is a good pick. 

Compare the Jetta, Civic, and Corolla »

2017 Jetta Performance

How Does the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta Drive?

Three different engines are available for the 2017 Jetta. All of them come turbocharged, and all offer more scoot than the typical compact car powertrain. The base 1.4-liter engine has the best fuel economy. The midrange 1.8-liter engine marks an excellent compromise between brisker acceleration and good gas mileage. Lastly, the Jetta GLI's 2.0-liter engine is the superior choice for spirited drivers. Depending on the engine, a five- or six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. Like its engines, the Jetta's handling is sportier than most rivals, yet it’s still smooth and stable enough to be a comfortable daily driver.

Does the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta Get Good Gas Mileage?

Automatic-equipped Jetta S and SE models have an above-average fuel economy rating of 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. That drops slightly for the Jetta SEL and Jetta GLI, but the difference only amounts to an extra $100 to $250 in fuel costs each year.

Read more about Jetta performance »

2017 Jetta Interior

How Many People Does the 2017 Jetta Seat?

The Jetta has room for five people, and it comes standard with cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats. Some uplevel models have upgrades such as synthetic leather seats, sport seats, and heated front seats. Accommodations are cushy throughout the car. By the numbers, the Jetta has one of the largest rear seats in the class. Most adults will be comfortable riding in the back.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta?

There are two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors on the 2017 Jetta’s rear seats, and a middle-seat tether anchor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Jetta’s LATCH system the second-lowest rating of Marginal for its ease of use, citing lower anchors that are difficult to access and maneuver around.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Features

The Jetta's technology is easy to use, with straightforward infotainment menus and a simple array of redundant buttons. Even the base model has a touch-screen display, Bluetooth, and a USB port. All other trim levels give you a larger touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio.  

See 2017 Volkswagen Jetta specs »

Read more about Jetta interior »

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Dimensions

Volkswagen Jetta Cargo Space

The Jetta's 15.7-cubic-foot trunk is larger than what most compact cars offer. If you want more cargo space from a small car, check out hatchback models like the Volkswagen GTI or five-door Mazda3.

Volkswagen Jetta Length and Weight

From bumper to bumper, the 2017 Jetta measures about 15.2 feet. Its curb weight ranges from 2,939 to 3,194 pounds. The Jetta’s gross vehicle weight tops out at 4,387 pounds.

Where Was the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta Built?

Volkswagen built the 2017 Jetta in Mexico, alongside the VW Beetle and VW Golf.

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