What it is: The Jetta is Volkswagen’s mid-size sedan and while not many people are buying sedans anymore, the Jetta might give them something to think about. Volkswagen has equipped all Jetta models with a 1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s certainly not a screamer, but all of the torque is available down low, so it feels much faster than other cars with this much power. There are five trim levels available: S, SE, R-Line, SEL and SEL Premium.
I was initially drawn to the S model ($18,545) because of the immense feature set that is available on a “stripped-out” version of the new car. You would think that you’d be happy to get power windows and a stereo, but you get some extremely premium features like LED headlights, alloy wheels, backup camera and a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. My one giant complaint with the base model is the seat material. It’s a very plain cloth that looks very cheap and like it would stain immediately.
The exterior revisions look great, and even the S trim looks fantastic. The driving experience is very smooth, with an edge toward sportiness. The automatic transmission is very serviceable, but the six-speed manual would be my recommendation. Alas, it is only available on the base S trim.
Moving up to the SE trim is an extra $3,600 but gives you a ton of features. First, you now get an automatic transmission by default (a $800 option on the S), the wonderful V-Tex Leatherette seating, heated front seats, forward-collision warning, rear-traffic alert, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, keyless access, and more. The R-Line is an additional $800 and adds more aggressive visual aesthetics in the interior and exterior. The SEL is an extra $1,500 and adds BeatsAudio, an upgrade to an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and VW’s digital cockpit system. The SEL Premium version is $26,945, a $2,530 premium, and adds projector headlights, leather seats, navigation and a few other niceties.
Needless to say, there’s a Jetta for each buyer out there. I think that the sweet spots are the SE (or R-Line, if you want a sportier appearance) or the SEL. While these prices may already seem like a good deal, with the sedan market cratering, VW dealers are offering thousands off of the sticker price. West Houston Volkswagen is offering $4,500 off almost every new Jetta. This pushes an R-Line trim under $20,000, which is an immense deal.
Price: $18,545 to $26,945 plus destination.
Mileage: 30 city/40 highway
Upsides: Lots of trims and options. Affordable price.
Downsides: Interior has a few low-quality plastics that could be improved.
Wrap-up: The Jetta is a good deal, but with these dealer incentives, it’s an incredible deal. Volkswagen currently has the best bumper-to-bumper warranty in America with a term of six years or 72,000 miles. It’s kind of mind-blowing that you can go out and buy a car this good, new, for as little as $15,000 or $16,000 and get a six-year warranty.