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Volkswagen Jetta: 2019 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/5/2018 Motor Trend Staff

WE LIKE Rear seat, trunk, torque

WE DON'T LIKE VW's cynical product planning

Three years after we named the Volkswagen Golf our 2015 Car of the Year, the Jetta moves to the same chassis, VW's MQB small car platform. Despite Volkswagen's well-known struggles to sell cars to Americans, the Jetta remains the best-selling German car in the U.S.

2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-SEL-side.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-SEL-side.jpg

The Jetta gains a healthy 147-hp, 184-lb-ft 1.4-liter turbo-four and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Sacrificing the sweet-handling independent rear suspension by switching to a torsion-beam rear allowed the rear seat and trunk to grow. However, the interior cost-cutting measures Volkswagen employed were worrisome to the judges.

"The interior is sterile," Michael Cantu said. Added Chris Theodore: "Bland interior package. Not as good as it should have been." Christian Seabaugh smacked the base model for "sweaty plastics in which you can still make out the lines left when they were pulled out of their molds." Then he faint-praises the higher-trim SEL model: "I'm not convinced that this is real leather, but the materials are generally a little better than in the base version."

We felt the car rode and drove well enough. "The Jetta's bones are good," Angus MacKenzie said, "the chassis feeling fundamentally more mature than those of most of its Asian rivals." But most judges could not get past the notion that VW decontented the car for American buyers.

"This is what happens when VW's union won't cave and management needs to cut costs elsewhere," Mark Rechtin barked. Theodore goes further: "This is a dumbed-down version of the Jetta we should have had three years ago!" Chris Walton best captures our POV on the new Jetta: "Entirely forgettable waste of a world-class platform."


• 2019 Car of the Year introduction
• Buick Regal
• Ford Mustang
• Ford Transit Connect
• Honda Clarity
• Hyundai Accent
• Hyundai Elantra
• Kia Forte
• Lexus ES
• Lexus LS
• Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
• Nissan Altima
• Toyota Avalon
• Toyota Corolla Hatchback
• Volkswagen Jetta

    2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-S-front-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-S-front-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg
    2019 Volkswagen Jetta(S)SEL
    Base Price/As tested $19,440/$19,890$25,310/$27,795
    Power (SAE net) 147 hp @ 5,000 rpm147 hp @ 5,000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net) 184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
    Accel, 0-60 mph 7.7 sec7.8 sec
    Quarter-mile 16.1 sec @ 87.3 mph16.0 sec @ 86.5 mph
    Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft121 ft
    Lateral Acceleration 0.83 g (avg)0.81 g (avg)
    MT Figure Eight 27.3 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)27.6 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
    EPA City/Hwy/Comb 30/40/34 mpg30/40/34 mpg
    Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedanFront-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
    Engine/Transmission 1.4L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/6-speed manual1.4L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/8-speed automatic
    Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 2,869 lb (59/41%)3,111 lb (59/41%)
    Wheelbase 105.7 in105.7 in
    Length x Width x Height 185.1 x 70.8 x 57.4 in185.1 x 70.8 x 57.4 in
    Energy Cons, City/Hwy 112/84 kW-hrs/100 miles112/84 kW-hrs/100 miles
    CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.57 lb/mile0.57 lb/mile

    2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-SEL-front-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg© Motor Trend Staff 2019-Volkswagen-Jetta-SEL-front-three-quarter-in-motion.jpg

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