Volkswagen Jetta Review
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta ranks 27 out of 43 Affordable Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 35 published reviews and test drives of the Volkswagen Jetta, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta has one of the most spacious cabins and largest trunks in the class, but lower trims are panned for their cheap interior materials and uninspiring performance.
With four engines and four transmissions, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta has one of the most diverse powertrain lineups in the class. It ranges from the base S trim, which has a 115-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and a standard five-speed manual transmission, to the GLI model, which has a 200-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional dual-clutch automatic transmission. With the base engine, the Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 24/32 mpg, which is low for the class. However, there’s also a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that yields an impressive 30/42 mpg city/highway. Test drivers are thoroughly impressed with the GLI’s speed and agility, and say all trims except the base S have good power. Reviews of the Jetta's handling as a whole are mixed. Lower trims tend to be criticized for subpar handling for a VW, while upper trims earn praise for their agility. Keep in mind that if you choose the Jetta, it has one of the lowest reliability scores in its class.
Test drivers agree that one of the best things about the Jetta’s cabin is its size. They report that both the front and rear seats have plenty of head- and legroom for adults, making the Jetta one of the most spacious models in the class. Car reviewers also say that the Jetta’s trunk is large for an affordable small car. Auto writers are somewhat disappointed with the base model’s interior quality. Even though it’s the lowest trim, they expect it to be nicer since it’s a Volkswagen, whose vehicles are known for their upscale cabins. Higher trims, however, are made with nice materials, and reviewers say that the GLI model is particularly posh. Unlike its main rivals, the Jetta lacks standard features such as Bluetooth and an iPod interface. These features, as well as a navigation system and a Fender stereo, are available on upper trims. Most reviewers like the navigation and stereo systems. A few think the navigation system is a little confusing, and reviewers agree that the Fender stereo’s sound quality is excellent.
- "Volkswagen's compact offers great passenger and cargo room, as well as powertrain refinement that exceeds the class norm. At the same time, its ride/handling balance and quality of interior materials on lower-line models fall short of the lofty standards we expect from a Volkswagen. The sporty GLI models address both these concerns, but they command a healthy price premium over the volume models." -- Consumer Guide
- "Volkswagen might have forsaken its traditional enthusiasts, yet the 2013 VW Jetta is still a solid choice as small sedans go. Its spacious interior, standard features, comfortable ride and optional fuel-efficient diesel fit well with the needs of most buyers." -- Edmunds
- "Base models have an appealing price but lack the character and content of their predecessors, while well-equipped models quickly lose their pricing competitiveness." -- Kelley Blue Book
Other Cars to Consider
If you’re willing to sacrifice performance for more standard interior features, consider the Hyundai Elantra. The base Elantra comes with a USB port and satellite radio, which are optional on the Jetta. The Elantra doesn’t offer as many engine and transmission choices as the Jetta, but reviewers like the Elantra’s comfortable ride and accurate steering. The Elantra is also available as a sedan, coupe and hatchback, which means there are a lot more body styles to choose from compared with the Jetta.
Like the Jetta, the Subaru Impreza has powerful engine options, but it comes standard with all-wheel drive, which isn’t even optional on the Jetta. This feature tends to decrease fuel economy ratings, but the base Impreza’s gas mileage is better than the base Jetta’s. The Impreza sedan doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Jetta sedan, but the Impreza hatchback and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen offer more cargo space.
Details: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
The 2013 Jetta has five trims: S, SE, SEL, GLI and TDI. In all, there are four engines, which have four or five cylinders. There are four transmissions, ranging from a five-speed manual to a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Each trim adds interior technology, offers more powerful engines and upgrades the interior materials. The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta was redesigned for the 2011 model year, so this overview uses applicable research and reviews from 2011 to 2013.
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