First Drive 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Mainstream American Family Sedan

When Volkswagen moved the Jetta down market with the sixth generation model, specifically designed and built for the North American market, there were more than a few enthusiasts who were disappointed as previous Jetta’s especially in GLI trim, gave you a bit of that BMW M driving experience at half the cost. The thing is, the move down market greatly increased sales, and at the end of the day, that is what a car company needs to do.
Now comes the all-new 2019 Jetta built on the MQB platform, though still specifically tailored for the North American market. Not that long ago the compact sedan segment was one of the main battlegrounds for all volume manufactures. Now with the market moving to CUV’s and SUV’s while the segment is still important, it’s not quite as critical, but that doesn’t mean OEM’s can slack off on quality, content, and pricing.

The new Jetta is a simple but handsome design, it has more sophistication in its looks than the outgoing model. The nose has VW’s new corporate grill, the hood has some stubble styling creases and the headlights are now LED’s
The side profile has a nice upswept look, while the rear is clean and nicely tailored. All of this leads to a 10% reduction in aero drag from .30 to .27. This reduction in aero drag leads to a nice quiet cabin with no wind noise being generated off any of the body.

Speaking of the quiet cabin the Jetta is among the quietest in the category. As mentioned there is no wind noise and very little road noise transmitted into the cabin. Sure, it’s not Audi quite, but the only car in this category that has less road noise in the cabin is maybe the Honda Civic.

Fit and finish inside the cabin is very good, the materials are on par with what you’d expect for the price and category. There is quite a bit of plastic, however, it does have soft touch material in all the right places and the plastics do have a quality look and feel to them. The seats are comfortable and firm, while I only drove the car for eighty to ninety miles, they feel as if they would be good for several hundred miles at a time. If I had one gripe about the interior it would be that the seats are a little high. Not only myself but my drive partner commented that we’d like the seats to adjust about an inch or two lower. Current North American trends say we like a higher seating position, but those above 6’3” or with a long torso might feel a little claustrophobic.

In vehicles with navigation, the Jetta’s 10.3” digital cockpit has a full-width high-resolution nav screen. If you’ve seen it the Audi’s then it’s very similar though smaller and no Google Maps integration, just standard road maps.
The eight-inch infotainment system is a nice upgrade from the last gen, though it swaps buttons for touch points on a high gloss screen. So, be prepared for an abundance of fingerprints. There is an optional Beats Audio system, that will be better than the standard audio, however, it’s nowhere near as good as the Fender system offered in other models. Mostly it’s a taste thing, but the audio is tuned as you’d expect Beats to be tuned, the bass is over-boosted.
Rear seat room is good, it’s right in line with the outgoing model. While it measures a little smaller Marc Gilles, VW’s Communication Manager pointed out that the way the room is measured it comes up against a structural area on the floor of the car. Being is as it’s a small bump you can still slide your feet easily under the front chairs, so effective legroom is no different even if it appears so on a spreadsheet.

Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder producing 147 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 184 ft/lbs of torque at 1,400 rpm. While the numbers don’t look great, it produces good acceleration, Put your foot down and you can get rubber in two gears. It has more than enough power to get you up to speed comfortably and it rolls down the highway at 80mph with no problem. Fuel economy is rated 30 city, 40 highway and 34 combined. I saw 37 in mixed driving with lots of two-lane rural roads. Fuel economy is the same be it with the six-speed manual or the new eight-speed auto box.
The automatic does upshift quickly to keep the revs down, but with full torque available from just off idle it’s not a problem. In Eco mode we watched the tach as the Jetta upshifted into eighth by 43mph, never going above 1,800 revs.
On the road, the 2019 Jetta is highly competent. It’s no sports sedan, however, it does not need to apologize on how it handles on the back roads. On the highway and in stop and go traffic, the Jetta strikes a good balance of firm but comfortable. You don’t feel frost heaves and road joints transferred through the chassis and into the cabin, the suspension just soaks it up and moves along. The Jetta has a little body roll going into corners but not so much that it immediately pushes you into understeer.
Pricing on the Jetta is as follows:

In summery the all-new 2019 Jetta is a pretty impressive vehicle in its class. Again it makes no pretensions of being anything other than a mainstream volume family sedan, and under that premise it delivers. It’s fair value, and with Volkswagen’s new 6 year/72,000 mile transferable warranty buyers will have peace of mind knowing that if something does go amiss that it won’t be coming out of their pocket anytime soon.
When the Jetta gets to dealers at the end of April, there will be some great lease deals going on, I expect you will be able to get an S model for around $120/mo and an SEL for $170/mo, and at that price, you can’t go wrong. Other than the Honda Civic if I were spending my own money I can’t think of any other compact sedan I’d consider over the new Jetta.

By |2018-04-11T08:00:38+00:00April 11th, 2018|Featured, First Impressions, Reviews, Volkswagen Reviews|27 Comments

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Detroit based Motorsports announcer for 28 years, a freelance writer for 20 years covering cars, motorcycles, and motorsports. @rumblestrip on Instagram