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2019 Volkswagen Jetta: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 2/7/2019 U.S. News & World Report
a blue car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta © Volkswagen of America, Inc. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta gets a complete redesign for the 2019 model year. This VW provides a comfortable interior and a smooth ride, but it lacks the all-around excellence of some class rivals, which is why it finishes in the bottom half of our compact car rankings

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is ranked:

Is the Volkswagen Jetta a Good Car?

Yes, the Volkswagen Jetta is a good car. It does a lot of things well: It gets good fuel economy, provides a smooth ride, comes with a user-friendly infotainment system, and has good trunk space for a small sedan. There aren't a ton of obvious flaws with this Volkswagen, but there are areas where some or many competitors surpass it. For example, some cars in the class have more energetic powertrains and are more engaging to drive. Others also provide more upscale interiors or offer more passenger space.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Jetta?

The Jetta may not be the right buying choice for you, depending on your priorities, but it certainly merits consideration. This VW displays some clear strengths and few obvious weaknesses, and it carries a competitive price tag, making it a better value than some rivals. Still, you may want to consider cars like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus.

Compare the Jetta, Civic, and Focus »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Jetta?

The Volkswagen Jetta is redesigned for the 2019 model year. The new Jetta gets better fuel economy than the outgoing model, but at the time of this writing, it only offers one engine, whereas the 2018 model gave you three choices (two of which had more horsepower and better acceleration than the base engine).

The new Jetta also has a smaller trunk than the 2018 model (by 1.6 cubic feet), and legroom in both rows decreases marginally (by less than three-quarters of an inch at most), though most reviewers still find there is plenty of room in both rows. The 2019 model has a larger standard touch screen than the old Jetta's largest offering. It also offers previously unavailable features, including leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

It is possible for you to save money by purchasing a used Jetta, but you won't get the benefits of the vehicle's redesign. If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Jetta review to help you decide if you can live without the 2019 model's additional features.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Volkswagen Jetta »
We Did the Research for You: 14 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Jetta Cost?

The Jetta’s base retail price of $18,545 isn’t unreasonable for a compact sedan. Many class rivals are more expensive, though several have lower starting prices. There are four higher Jetta trims, with the top-of-the-line SEL Premium carrying a starting price of just under $27,000.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Jetta Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Jetta or Ford Focus?

The Ford Focus provides a much more diverse powertrain lineup than the Jetta, including two high-performance options and an all-electric option (for an electric VW compact car, check out the VW e-Golf). The Focus generally delivers a smooth ride, but it handles much more adeptly than the Volkswagen and is considerably more fun to drive. The Ford's cabin quality matches its price point, and while the front seats provide adequate comfort, the rear seats are cramped. The Focus sedan's trunk is smaller than the Jetta's, but the Focus is available in a hatchback body style for those who want more space. The choice between these two boils down to whether you'd prefer a more fun-to-drive car or a more practical, spacious interior.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Jetta or Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic challenges for the top spot in our compact car rankings almost every year. It's available in coupe, sedan, and hatchback body styles, and the sedan and hatchback have more cargo space than the Jetta. The Civic's cabin looks and feels upscale, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. The Civic has several engine choices that deliver more horsepower than the Jetta's engine, and the Civic is more agile as well. The Civic is a better all-around car than the Jetta, and they have similar price tags. Go with the Honda.

Compare the Jetta, Focus, and Civic »

Jetta Interior

How Many People Does the Jetta Seat?

This four-door sedan seats five people, and the seats remain supportive even on long drives. They're also comfortable, and most reviewers think there is ample space in both rows.

Jetta and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing car seats.

Jetta Interior Quality

The Jetta's cabin is nice, but it won't blow you away. It remains quiet at highway speeds and features some soft-touch materials, but you can also spot some hard plastics that detract from the overall feel.

Jetta Cargo Space

The Jetta provides just over 14 cubic feet of cargo space, which is enough room for about 10 pieces of carry-on luggage. That's a good amount of room for this class, and you can fold down the rear seats if you need to carry larger items.

Jetta Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Jetta include the MIB II infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth, and VW Car-Net App-Connect, which includes connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Available features include a sunroof, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, additional VW Car-Net services, and an additional USB port.

The Jetta features a user-friendly infotainment system with plenty of smartphone connectivity technology and a responsive, easy-to-see touch screen. The dash controls are smartly arranged, but some of them might be a long reach for taller drivers.

Read more about interior »

Jetta Performance

Jetta Engine: Somewhat Tame, for a Turbo

The Jetta features a decent 147-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Some class rivals have more power and provide quicker acceleration, but the Jetta's engine is adequate on both counts and moves this small sedan without any trouble.

Jetta Gas Mileage: Pretty Great

The VW Jetta gets excellent fuel economy for a nonhybrid car, earning 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The Jetta will cost you about the same amount in gas money each year as another highly efficient car, the Honda Civic. But the Volkswagen will save you about $150 per year compared to the Ford Focus.

Jetta Ride and Handling: Easy to Drive

The Jetta isn't the little sports sedan it used to be, but this VW still handles winding roads with competency and doesn't roll too much around turns. It also rides more smoothly than some other compact cars.

Read more about performance »

Jetta Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Jetta Reliable?

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta does not yet have a reliability rating from J.D. Power.

Volkswagen Jetta Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Jetta with a six-year/72,000-mile limited warranty. This is a longer warranty than many competitors provide.

Read more about reliability »

Jetta Safety

Jetta Crash Test Results

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta has not yet been put through crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Jetta Safety Features

The Jetta comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Jetta Model Is Right for Me?

You get five options when picking a VW Jetta trim (S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium). All models feature a 147-horsepower turbo-four engine and front-wheel drive. Most trims don't offer many optional features, so you generally have to move up in trim level to get more technology.

With that in mind, the SE makes a fine choice for many buyers. It has some nice comfort and convenience features, as well as an array of driver assistance technology, yet it costs thousands less than the top trims. If you have a little extra room in your budget, consider the SEL trim, which costs about $2,000 more than the SE and adds several infotainment upgrades and more active safety tech.

Volkswagen Jetta S

The Jetta S has a base price of $18,545. Standard features include a six-speed manual transmission, cloth upholstery, a rearview camera, and an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, VW Car-Net App-Connect, and Bluetooth.

For $800, you can ditch the manual transmission for an eight-speed automatic, and for $450, you can add the Driver Assist package, which includes forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Volkswagen Jetta SE

The Jetta SE starts at $22,155. In addition to the base trim's standard features, the SE comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a sunroof, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking.

For $495, you can add the Cold Weather package, which includes remote start, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Volkswagen Jetta R-Line

The Jetta R-Line starts at $22,995. The R-Line has some styling upgrades and comes with the XDS differential, but its interior features are virtually identical to the SE's. You can add the Cold Weather package for $495.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL

The Jetta SEL starts at $24,415. It comes with leather upholstery, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, HD Radio, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, additional VW Car-Net services, and an additional USB port. You can add the Cold Weather package for $495.

Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

The Jetta SEL Premium is the top trim, and it has a starting price of $26,945. This trim comes standard with just about every feature you can get in a Jetta.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2019 Volkswagen Jetta specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Volkswagen Jetta looks and feels different after its 2019 redesign, but it still doesn't stand out in the crowded compact car class. That's why it finishes in the bottom half of our rankings. There are plenty of reasons to like the Jetta, but you might find better options if you shop around.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 Volkswagen Jetta review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.


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