• Sportier design
  • Passat-inspired features
  • What’s with the Audi A4 rear end?
  • Longer and wider
  • Massive grille
  • Sleek roofline
  • LED lights standard
  • Clean dashboard design
  • New infotainment system
  • New, softer materials
  • Optional leather seats
  • 10-color ambient lighting
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • New driver assistance features
  • New MQB platform
  • turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine
  • 147 horsepower
  • 184 pound-feet of torque
  • New six-speed manual
  • Optional eight-speed automatic
  • Start/stop system

Sporty design, premium features, and new technology

The latest-generation Volkswagen Jetta was launched in 2010 and production for North America began the same year in Puebla, Mexico. Larger than its predecessor, the sixth-gen Jetta was relegated from the premium segment into the same market as the highly popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. In order to keep costs down, Volkswagen removed the leather seats option and the multi-link suspension from the American model. Come 2018, and the German firm launched brand-new model that aims to move the Jetta closer to the premium market again.

Unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with the company’s recent corporate design, seen on the larger Passat and the Arteon sedans, the new Jetta is a significant departure from its predecessor in just about any department. Fresh and sleek on the outside, the four-door pack more technology than ever and Volkswagen claims that it’s loaded with premium features. It also rides on a new platform, switching to the flexible, all-popular MQB after two generations on PQ35 underpinnings. Let’s find out more about these changes in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Jetta.

Exterior

  • Sportier design
  • Passat-inspired features
  • What’s with the Audi A4 rear end?
  • Longer and wider
  • Massive grille
  • Sleek roofline
  • LED lights standard
2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 760101
turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine
The new Jetta is a significant departure from the old model, but its styling is far from revolutionary

A quick glance at the compact is enough to notice that Volkswagen has put a lot of effort in redesigning the Jetta. Almost eight years old, the previous Jetta was pretty dated and obviously boring design-wise, especially when compared to the company’s more recent products. But while the new Jetta is a significant departure from the old model, its styling is far from revolutionary. Much like Audi, VW has taken the "same sausage, different lengths" route in recent years and the Jetta is no exception from this rule.

Now sporting a clean look with angular lines front and rear, the Jetta is obviously inspired by the larger Passat, and I can even spot some Arteon cues in there. But this isn’t a bad thing, as all these new styling cues make the new Jetta sexier than ever. On top of that, it’s very elegant for such a small four-door and sportier than expected, even without the sleek R-Line package.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 760129
Sportier design
It has a new, bold front fascia with one of the largest grille ever seen on a Volkswagen

It has a new, bold front fascia with one of the largest grille ever seen on a Volkswagen. The angular headlamps give the car an angry look, despite seeming a bit too large for the design. Slimmer light would’ve been perfect. The look is completed by a sculpted bumper with big daytime running lights at the corners and a wide intake placed just above the splitter.

The profile is also surprisingly sporty, blending a coupe-like roof, short overhangs, and a protruding beltline. The latter isn’t very original, as it resembles the character line of the BMW 3 Series, but it’s a cool addition and a big improvement over the previous, featureless Jetta.

left right
The rear fascia is fresh and sporty, but it looks an awful lot like the Audi A4

But there’s a bigger issue around back. While the rear fascia is fresh and sporty, it looks an awful lot like the Audi A4. The long and slender, two-piece headlamps, the trunklid spoiler, and big license plate recess are only mild interpretations of those seen on the premium A4. Even the bumper configuration is similar, with the thin, red lights placed just above the large exhaust pipes. Granted, some A4 models have round tips, but I’ve seen a few with trapezoidal units as well. The huge amount of A4 details prevent me from enjoying the Jetta as much as I should. It’s a shame that Volkswagen wasn’t able to come up with a more original design, although I have a feeling that this won’t bother the usual customers too much.

The sedan is also longer and wider, with the short overhangs providing a longer wheelbase too. Finally, full LED lights are standard front and rear, an exclusive feature in this segment. Yes, Volkswagen is moving the Jetta closer to the premium market again.

Interior

  • Clean dashboard design
  • New infotainment system
  • New, softer materials
  • Optional leather seats
  • 10-color ambient lighting
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • New driver assistance features
2019 Volkswagen Jetta Interior
- image 760111
Digital instrument cluster
The seats and door panels have been redesigned and come wrapped in new upholstery colors

While not yet dated, at least when compared to other vehicles on the market, the outgoing Jetta’s interior was incredibly boring. Sure, the same was available for almost every other affordable compact a few years ago, but the Jetta needed a drastic makeover to bounce back. And Volkswagen delivered by creating a modern, fresh-looking cockpit for a four-door that’s supposed to tackle the upper market of the affordable compact segment.

The dashboard is no longer flat, now employing various angular lines and a more pronounced two tier design. The new infotainment display sits at the top, with the trapezoidal HVAC vents moved lower in the center stack. The control layout is much cleaner, while the new storage console is large enough to fit a standard iPad. The instrument cluster area feels sportier. The steering wheel is the only element that remained unchanged, with just minor upgrades to the control section.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Interior
- image 758237
New options include 10-color ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats

The seats and door panels have been redesigned too and come wrapped in new upholstery colors. Volkswagen claims that it used higher quality and softer materials in the new Jetta. While this is evident in the photos, I can’t say it’s on par with other compact premium cars.

New options include 10-color ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory function, leather upholstery, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The infotainment screen is also new, making all vehicle information easily accessible. The Driver Personalization setting with up to four driver setting is standard and includes setups for driver seat memory, driver assistance system preferences, temperature, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement (if equipped), ambient lighting color, radio presets, and navigation view.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Interior
- image 760116
New driver assistance features
It's the only Volkswagen available with a 400-watt audio system in the U.S.

The new Digital Cockpit instrument cluster is optional on the base model and standard on SEL and SEL Premium trims. It comes with a reconfigurable display and the possibility to position navigation data in front of the driver. Features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink integration, as well as the 400-watt Beats Audio sound system are optional. The latter makes the Jetta the first Volkswagen in the U.S. to offer such a powerful audio system.

There’s bigger news in the driver assistance department, with new technology available. The rearview camera is standard on every model, while the options list includes Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, High Beam Control, and Lane Departure Warning.

Drivetrain

  • New MQB platform
  • turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine
  • 147 horsepower
  • 184 pound-feet of torque
  • New six-speed manual
  • Optional eight-speed automatic
  • Start/stop system
2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 758226
The big news under the skin is that the Jetta adopted the flexible MQB platform

The big news under the skin is that the Jetta finally ditched the old PQ35 platform, used since 2005. The sedan will now ride on the flexible MQB platform, shared with the Audi A3, Volkswagen Arteon, Atlas, T-Roc, and Polo, among other vehicles.

Volkswagen didn’t have much to say about the drivetrain, but it did confirm that the new compact uses a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. The unit cranks out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet. That’s a three horsepower decrease compared to the outgoing 1.4-liter mill, but it keeps the Jetta at the top of the compact class output-wise.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 760105
The 1.4-liter unit cranks out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet

But while the engine didn’t change much, it mates to a new six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic is offered optionally on the base model and standard on the higher trims and includes a start/stop system for improved fuel economy. There aren’t any EPA estimates yet, but the new platform, the revised engine, and the new transmissions should make the new Jetta more efficient that the previous model. The outgoing sedan returns 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, so it’s safe to assume that the redesigned model will surpass the 40-mpg mark on the highway.

Prices

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 760125

The new Volkswagen Jetta retails from $18,545. That’s a $100 drop compared to the outgoing model. For the minimum amount, you get the Jetta S model with the manual transmission. Add $800 and you can upgrade to the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Next up is the Jetta SE at $22,155, while the Jetta R-Line fetches $22,995. The better equipped trims go past the $24,000, with the Jetta SEL starting from $24,415 and the Jetta SEL Premium coming in at $26,945 before options. Each trim comes with the new People First Warranty with 6-years/72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) coverage.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta S six-speed manual $18,545
2019 Volkswagen Jetta S eight-speed automatic $19,345
2019 Volkswagen Jetta SE $22,155
2019 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line $22,995
2019 Volkswagen Jetta Jetta SEL $24,415
2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium $26,945

Competition

Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla High Resolution Exterior
- image 509684

The world’s best selling nameplate since the 1990s, the Toyota Corolla is the car to beat in this segment. Introduced in 2013, the latest-generation Corolla may be a little old for the upcoming Jetta, but it’s still the most popular choice in most markets. However, it’s interior doesn’t feel as fresh and its limited drivetrain choices in the U.S. doesn’t make it as appealing to customers who want a bit more oomph. The compact is available with just one engine here, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, rated at either 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque or 140 horses and 126 pound-feet. The CVT transmission is standard, but Toyota also offers a six-speed manual. Mileage varies between 27 to 28 mpg city and 35 to 36 mpg highway depending on drivetrain. Pricing starts from $18,550 for the base model and goes up to $22,730 for the range-topping trim.

Read our full story on the Toyota Corolla.

Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic High Resolution Exterior
- image 651097

The Civic is yet another compact that Volkswagen wants to steal customers from. Unlike the Corolla, the Civic sedan is brand-new for 2018 and boasts a sportier appearance. It’s notably larger than its predecessor and the Si model looks aggressive even when compared to the Jetta sketches above. Motivation comes from three different engines, starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. More oomph comes from the more expensive trims, which get juice from the turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-pot with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet. The tiny powerplant is found in the Si model too, rated at 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. The Si also enables Honda to better compete with the GLI version of the Jetta. Pricing starts from $18,840 for the base model, while the Touring trim retails from $26,700. The higher performance Si fetches $24,100 before options.

Read our full review of the Honda Civic and Honda Civic Si.

Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze High Resolution Exterior
- image 634990

The Cruze also received a significant redesign recently, being only two years old for the 2018 model year. Now sporting a more upscale look and a premium-oriented interior, the current Cruze is being praised for its attractive cabin, appealing convenience and technology packages, and ample rear-seat legroom. The standard turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine, rated at 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet, returns solid fuel economy at 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. And unlike the competition, Chevy offers a diesel option in the form of a 1.6-liter EcoTec four-cylinder that cranks out 137 horses and 240 pound-feet of twist. The oil burner returns 30 mpg city and 52 mpg highway, the best mileage in this comparison. The Cruze is also the most affordable option, retailing from $17,850. In diesel trim, pricing starts from $22,195.

Read our full story on the Chevrolet Cruze.

Conclusion

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 760122
Sleek roofline

The new Volkswagen Jetta is definitely an exciting car. Especially when compared to the outgoing model. The previous sedan was not only dated technology- and feature-wise, but it was also pretty boring to look at. Volkswagen fixed all of that and then some. I’m not a big fan of the Audi A4 rear end and the BMW-esque beltline, but I agree that the new design gave the Jetta a much-need refresh. I doubt it will raise above the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic sales-wise anytime soon, but it should attract more customers into Volkswagen dealerships.

  • Leave it
    • * No power upgrades
    • * No diesel option
    • * Most premium features are optional

References

Volkswagen Jetta

2015 Volkswagen Jetta High Resolution Exterior
- image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven Exterior High Resolution
- image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

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- image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

Press release

Today, Volkswagen of America, Inc., unveiled the all-new 2019 Jetta at the North American International Auto Show. The Jetta is one of the world’s most successful sedans, with more than 17 million models sold worldwide since it was introduced in 1979: more than 3.2 million of those vehicles have been sold in the United States. Now based off the award-winning MQB platform, the 2019 Jetta offers bolder design, more interior space than the outgoing model and new technology. Despite all the additional premium features and technology, the all-new 2019 Jetta pricing starts at $18,545, less than the outgoing base model.

“The Jetta has long been Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle in the United States,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen, “and we expect that this all-new car will continue to resonate with buyers in the compact sedan class. With its combination of great technology, fuel-efficient drivetrains, sporty styling, upscale interior and amenities, and fun-to-drive nature, we expect that the Jetta will make a huge splash in the compact sedan market when it goes on sale.”

The Jetta is based on Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture. Compared with the current car, the new Jetta grows outside in every direction. It offers a longer wheelbase—105.7 inches compared to 104.4 inches—with shorter overhangs, and is longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model. The increased exterior proportions add up to more interior space than the previous car as well.

Outside, the all-new Jetta marks an evolution in Volkswagen’s clean and timeless design DNA, with modern lines and a refined appearance. The combination of large front grille and sharper lines exudes a bold character, while the addition of more chrome and standard LED lighting lend a premium feel. A fast-sloping roof line creates a sportier, coupe-like profile without compromising the usability of the rear seat.

Inside, the Jetta’s fully redesigned interior combines high-tech features with everyday usability and refined fit and finish. High quality soft-touch materials throughout and new trapezoidal design elements give the vehicle an upscale, yet modern feel. The 2019 Jetta sports new fabric colors and designs for the seats and door trim as well as optional 10-color customizable wrap-around ambient lighting. To keep occupants comfortable, Jetta will offer available heated and ventilated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory functionality, leather seating surfaces, and dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control. A new center storage console is 5-liters—large enough to fit a standard iPad.

The driver-oriented cockpit features an infotainment screen placed high in the dashboard, to make all vehicle information easily accessible to the driver. Every Jetta offers standard Driver Personalization with up to four driver settings. Dependent on trim, customizable features include: driver seat memory, driver assistance system preferences, temperature, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement (if equipped), ambient lighting color, radio presets, navigation view, and more.

Jetta SEL and SEL Premium models feature a standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display, offering drivers a reconfigurable display of key data and the ability to position navigation data front and center for easy viewing. The available Volkswagen Car-Net® system provides a suite of connected vehicle services, including standard App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®. The new Jetta is the first Volkswagen in the U.S. to offer an available 400-watt BeatsAudio® system.

The Jetta’s technology upgrades extend beyond the cabin to include a comprehensive suite of available driver assistance technology. A rearview camera comes standard and available features include: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), upgraded for use in stop and go traffic; High Beam Control (Light Assist); and Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), which actively helps the driver steer the car back into its lane should the vehicle start drifting into another lane without using the turn signal.

In addition, the 2019 Jetta offers a combination of both passive and active safety systems that are engineered to meet or exceed current crash regulations. These systems include the class exclusive Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

The new Jetta will continue to be powered by Volkswagen’s 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, making 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the highest in the compact sedan class. The power is taken to the front wheels via a new standard six-speed manual transmission, with an eight-speed automatic transmission optional on the base model and standard on higher trims. Automatic transmission models come standard with a Start/Stop system designed to improve fuel efficiency. This technology stops the engine during idle when the brake pedal is held (such as when waiting at a stop light). When the brake pedal is released, the engine restarts.

Every Jetta model will come with the People First Warranty, America’s best bumper-to-bumper new vehicle limited warranty. The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and the warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners throughout the remainder of its duration.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta will be available in S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trim levels and is expected to arrive at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the second quarter of 2018. An R-Line trim will join the lineup at launch and features sportier styling, exclusive interior and exterior design elements, R-Line badging, and the XDS® electronic differential.

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