2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Performance


#18 out of 21 in Compact Cars

$18,745 MSRP
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2019 Volkswagen Jetta Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.8

The redesigned 2019 Volkswagen Jetta launches with just one available engine – a turbocharged four-cylinder. It delivers passable performance and gets good fuel economy. This VW also rides smoothly and feels composed and capable on winding roads.

  • "Driven with just two adults onboard, passing performance feels acceptable and the acceleration rate at medium and wide throttle openings seemed more linear than we've experienced with other engines with tiny turbos. Only in certain low-speed situations rolling onto the throttle was there an occasional hint of turbo lag. The new transmission reacts swiftly to throttle inputs, especially in its S mode." -- Motor Trend
  • "A sharp new wrapper doesn't necessarily make a good car. It needs a solid powertrain and suspension to bring everything together. In the Jetta's case, its mechanical bits are average at best." -- Autoblog
  • "The nuanced goodness of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta may not be immediately apparent to some drivers. It's not entertaining in the sense of a BMW 3 Series, nor are buyers asked to pay for that." -- New York Daily News

Acceleration and Power

The Jetta comes standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and an eight-speed automatic is optional (its standard in all but the base trim). This powertrain is solid if unspectacular. It won't hold you back while you're driving around town or on the highway, but it doesn't feel fast; merging or passing at high speeds may take longer than you'd like.

With the automatic transmission, the Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the best ratings in the class for a nonhybrid car.

  • "The Jetta isn't going to win any races, but this engine provides more than enough torque for driving and passing in the city or on the highway. The new eight-speed automatic operates smoothly, save for the occasional clunky downshift to first when stepping on the gas below about 5 mph." -- CNET
  • "This is a thoroughly modern engine that's smooth and quiet in operation. It's quite good commuting around town and in stop-and-go traffic, but you're advised to leave a bit more margin to execute higher-speed freeway merges and two-lane backroad passes as acceleration drops off at higher revs. Again, the emphasis here is fuel economy, not entertaining performance. The latter will be the Jetta GLI's mission." -- New York Daily News
  • "The Jetta's turbocharged four-cylinder engine does a commendable job, delivering an energetic initial spurt off the line and shifting smoothly, thanks to its eight-speed automatic transmission. For die-hards who prefer shifting themselves, a six-speed manual transmission is available on the base car." -- Consumer Reports

Handling and Braking

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta has something for just about everyone. The front-wheel-drive Jetta may not be the most fun-to-drive car in the class, but it handles well and is easy to drive. Also, its ride is smoother than some rivals'. A Drive Mode Selection feature is available, allowing you to choose between Normal, Eco, Sport, and Custom driving modes that alter dynamics to your liking.

  • "The new car rides very nicely compared to others in the class (MQB really works!) and body control and handling are well above average -- the car happily squirts through corners while managing body roll well without a stiff ride." -- Autoweek
  • "Previous Jettas were taut, agile, and enjoyable to drive, but this new one is a bit dull. Its handling is sound, but this is not a car suited for brisk, entertaining drives." -- Consumer Reports
  • "First, and perhaps most importantly for the broad target demographic of this car, this is a very easy car to drive. It's undemanding and pretty much does what you want it to, with comparatively minimal input. Its handling is decent, with a steering feel that, while not exactly engaging, is communicative of what's going on on the road." -- Jalopnik
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