$14,011 - $21,045

2018 Volkswagen Jetta Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta offers you a choice of three turbocharged four-cylinder engines, all of which are enjoyable when you’re behind the wheel. The base engine delivers the best fuel economy in the lineup, and its mileage is better than many rivals'. This Volkswagen rides comfortably and can hold its own on winding roads.

  • "Now in its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Jetta has been one of the most fun-to-drive small sedans since The Dukes of Hazzard aired on prime time. From behind the wheel the new 2018 Jetta feels small and agile, but also solid and strong." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Finally, the 2017 Jetta's lineup of four-cylinder engines is pretty sweet, and two of the three available engines even offer a manual transmission." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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 (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Jetta’s base engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 150 horsepower. It’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is optional. This engine is perfectly capable and will satisfy most buyers, but two more powerful options are there if you want them.

Some higher trims feature a 1.8-liter turbo-four engine that produces 170 horsepower, while the GLI trim features a 2.0-liter turbo-four that puts out 210 horsepower. Models with these engines are noticeably quicker than those with the base engine, and they can improve your driving enjoyment considerably.

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. Those are pretty good ratings for a nonhybrid compact car. With either of the larger engines, the Jetta gets 24/33 mpg city/highway.

  • "For 2018, the new VW Jetta is offered with a choice of three turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engines. On the upside, whichever of the three you choose is easy to recommend." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With three engines and three transmissions, the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta has arguably the most appealing powertrain lineup in its class. The 1.8-liter turbo that defines the SEL model is especially impressive, combining lively acceleration, smooth refinement and thrifty fuel economy. Then there's the turbocharged, 210-hp 2.0-liter engine in the GLI, which punches above its weight in real-world driving and induces grins with powerful, torque-laden sprints at almost any rpm." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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 (2016)

Handling and Braking

This front-wheel-drive Volkswagen has something for just about everyone. While it’s not quite as athletic as rivals like the Mazda3, the Jetta handles well and generally provides an engaging driving experience. That sportiness leads to a ride that is somewhat firm, but it’s still comfortable whether you’re driving on the highway or around town.

  • "We appreciate the Jetta's responsive steering, and its suspension provides a taut but compliant ride, both in the city and out on the highway." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • As for lesser Jettas, they prove compliant and comfortable on the highway, and most feel lively and engaging, too. At the same time, the other cars in this class have improved markedly in the last decade, so the Jetta no longer stands apart." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "It's certainly nimble and stable, yet eager to transition from left to right. Front-drive cars usually suffer from understeer, where the front tires gradually lose grip if a corner is taken too quickly. However, the GLI has XDS, an electronic cross differential system that helps with traction and mitigates torque steer. The sweet thing about the GLI is that it's such a well-balanced package with just the right amount of power to make the chassis enjoyable, yet not enough to overwhelm it." -- Autotrader (2016)

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