2018 Volkswagen Jetta

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MSRP: $18,645 - 29,545

2018 Volkswagen Jetta Review

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta places in the bottom third of the highly competitive compact car class. It has substantial attributes inside and out, but its interior materials aren't as refined as competitors', and reviewers were disappointed with the Jetta's competent but underwhelming performance.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.6
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.2
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Above-average fuel economy
  • Large trunk
  • Roomy cabin
  • Lower-rent cabin materials than rivals
  • Less nimble than some competitors

New for 2018

  • New Wolfsburg Edition trim
  • Longer warranty than previous Jetta models

Is the Volkswagen Jetta a Good Car?

Despite its low ranking, the Volkswagen Jetta is a decent car. Its ranking is less about its flaws and more about the fact that what it does well, several compact car rivals do better. For example, it has a comfortable ride, good handling, and fairly peppy engines, but some classmates have better all-around performance. Additionally, while the Jetta features an easy-to-use infotainment system, comfortable seats, and generous cargo space, its cabin has lower-rent materials than many other competitors.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Jetta?

Since there are so many great options in the compact car class, you should shop around before purchasing a Jetta. There are many competitors that offer more than this Volkswagen. The Honda Civic, for example, is one of our top-ranked compact sedans and surpasses the VW in almost every category. If you like the Jetta but are looking for a slightly larger vehicle with a nicer interior, the Volkswagen Passat is a good car to consider.

Compare the Jetta, Civic, and Passat »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Jetta?

The 2018 Jetta is a part of a generation that began with the 2011 model year. It adds a new Wolfsburg Edition trim and features a longer warranty than earlier models. You could save some money by shopping through the previous model years, but be aware of some notable changes.

VW introduced the GLI model for 2012, added available power-adjustable front seats for 2013, and introduced available Car-Net smartphone integration, a standard independent rear suspension, and an available turbocharged engine for 2014. There was a midgeneration refresh for 2015, which included interior and exterior styling changes, as well as additional available safety features. For 2016, the Jetta added some new driver assistance technology, a standard touch screen and USB port, updated exterior styling for the GLI trim, and a new turbocharged base engine. For 2017, a rearview camera became standard, and the hybrid model was discontinued.

To research other models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 VW Jettas. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volkswagen Jetta »
We Did the Research for You: 69 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank. This 2018 Volkswagen Jetta review uses applicable research and data from the 2011 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Jetta Cost?

The Jetta’s base retail price of $18,645 isn’t unreasonable for a compact sedan. Many class rivals are more expensive, though a fair few also have lower starting prices. There are several higher trims, all of which have price tags in the $20,000s. The highest trim, the Jetta GLI, starts at nearly $30,000.

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 Volkswagen Passat?

The biggest differences between the Volkswagen Jetta and the Volkswagen Passat are size and price. The Passat offers a little more room inside, along with a nicer interior and a few more standard features. Additionally, the Passat offers a V6 engine, while you can only get turbocharged four-cylinder engines in the Jetta. You'll also find more advanced safety features in the Passat's base trim. However, the Jetta gets better gas mileage estimates. If you have a flexible budget, go with the Passat.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Jetta or Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic has a similar starting price as the Jetta, but it outclasses the Volkswagen and many other compact cars. From a performance standpoint, there are a lot of similarities between the two. Both vehicles deliver responsive handling and zesty acceleration. Both also offer more athletic models: The Civic offers the sporty Honda Civic Si and Honda Civic Type R, while the Jetta offers the performance-oriented Jetta GLI. The Civic, however, gets slightly better fuel economy ratings and comes standard with more features, like automatic climate control and a multiangle rearview camera.

Compare the Jetta, Passat, and Civic »

Jetta Interior

How Many People Does the Jetta Seat?

The Jetta seats five people throughout a spacious interior. The front seats are roomy and comfortable, and the rear seats provide enough space for adult passengers.

Jetta and Car Seats

The Jetta features two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Jetta's LATCH system a Marginal rating (the second-lowest possible) for its ease of use because the lower anchors are set too deep in the seats and are tough to maneuver around.

Jetta Interior Quality

This VW’s minimalist interior could almost pass for an Audi thanks to the clean-cut design. The materials give the game away, though. There are too many hard plastics, and many competitors have more upscale cabins.

Jetta Cargo Space

This compact sedan isn’t short on cargo room. The Jetta has nearly 16 cubic feet of trunk space, which is enough room for four sets of golf clubs or nearly a dozen pieces of carry-on luggage.

Jetta Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard equipment includes an infotainment system that features a 5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Available features include a power sunroof, a 6.3-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, a nine-speaker Fender premium audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and a cooled glove box.

The Jetta’s touch-screen infotainment system is easy to use, and the larger available screen also has sharp graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available tech features that make it easy to pair your smartphone with the system, and they aren’t offered in every rival. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Jetta Performance

Jetta Engine: Three Turbocharged Choices

The Jetta is available with one of three turbocharged four-cylinder engines that put out 150, 170, and 210 horsepower, respectively. All three are great engines for driving around town and have plenty of power for moving this sedan. However, the more powerful engines do make this VW a bit more fun to drive.

Jetta Gas Mileage: Pretty Good

The Jetta is more fuel-efficient than some other cars in the class. With the base engine and an automatic transmission, the Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

Despite those above-average ratings, some rivals are still better. The Honda Civic is one such competitor; driving it over the Jetta will save you about $100 per year in gas money.

Jetta Ride and Handling: An Enjoyable Drive

The Jetta has always been pretty fun to drive, and the 2018 model is no different. However, the average compact car is more athletic than it used to be, so the Jetta doesn’t really stand out for its athleticism. Despite its sportiness, the Jetta provides a comfortable ride.

Read more about performance »

Jetta Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Jetta Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Jetta an above-average reliability rating of four 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 VW offered with pre-2018 model year Jettas, and it’s also a longer warranty than many competitors provide.

Read more about reliability »

Jetta Safety

Jetta Crash Test Results

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta earned a perfect five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also earned four stars in the frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side crash tests. In six Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the 2018 Jetta earned the top rating of Good. It received an Acceptable rating (the second-highest) in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

Jetta Safety Features

The Jetta comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Jetta Model Is Right for Me?

There are a half-dozen Jetta trims to choose from. All are sedans (for a hatchback, look to the VW Golf), and all have a turbo-four engine. There aren’t many option packages offered with the Jetta, so you will have to step up in trim level to get more features. 

With that in mind, the Jetta SE makes a great choice if you’re not that concerned with driver assistance features. It has plenty of comfort and convenience options, and it’s only a few thousand dollars more than the base trim. If you do want active safety features, the Jetta SEL makes a good choice.

Volkswagen Jetta S

The Jetta S has a base price of $18,645. It comes with a 150-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission, a rearview camera, and an infotainment system that features a 5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, and Bluetooth. For $1,000, you can trade out the manual for a six-speed automatic. You can also add heated front seats for $495. 

Volkswagen Jetta Wolfsburg Edition

The new-for-2018 Jetta Wolfsburg Edition has a starting price of $20,345. In addition to the base trim’s features, the Wolfsburg Edition comes with V-Tex leatherette upholstery and heated front seats.

Volkswagen Jetta SE

The Jetta SE starts at $21,245. The SE comes with a sunroof, satellite radio, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a 6.3-inch touch-screen infotainment system.

There’s also a Jetta SE Sport, which features a 170-horsepower turbo-four engine. Beyond that, it’s the same as the SE. The Jetta SE Sport has a starting price of $23,245.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL

The Jetta SEL starts at $26,245. It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The Jetta GLI is the top trim, and it has a starting price of $29,545. This is the only trim to feature a 210-horsepower turbo-four engine. It also comes standard with just about every trim you can get in a Jetta.

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 2018 Volkswagen Jetta specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta finishes low in our class rankings because lots of compact cars are a touch better. This VW sedan brings a lot to the table inside and out, but other cars in the class are either more well-rounded or class leaders in areas where the Jetta is merely above average.

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

  • "Although the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta is officially a compact sedan, it's the biggest in its class and offers space comparable to a midsize car. The range of engines and trims available covers a lot of ground from basic to sporty, and the Jetta has performed well in crash tests. Going for the safe option is great when protecting occupants, not so much when designing the exterior and cabin. Forgettable, inoffensive styling is a Jetta downside, as is this generation's age – it debuted in 2011." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Top-rated competitors such as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda 3 have copied the playbook of the classic Jetta, combining distinctive styling with a premium-style range of convenience features, not to mention lively handling in some models. We recommend checking them out, and you might even consider the latest four-door, five-passenger VW Golf before settling on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "If you want a sporty, European-derived compact sedan at a non-European price, the 2017 VW Jetta delivers the contemporary design and handling dynamics for which German cars are known. The Jetta is also fuel-efficient, earning up to 40 mpg with a manual transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
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