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#14

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $16,215 - $31,670
Invoice: $15,567 - $30,403
MPG: 24 City / 34 Hwy
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Volkswagen Jetta Performance

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta earns praise for its precise steering and confident handling. Some reviewers also say that the Jetta rides more comfortably than competing compact cars, while others praise its range of peppy engine choices.

  • "In normal driving on a variety of roads, we found the Jetta TDI to be highly competent regardless of the location -- from smooth highways to curvy country roads." -- AutoTrader 
  • "Rowing through the gears of a 2015 Volkswagen Jetta S TDI's six-speed manual transmission as we roll along the scenic two-laners of Virginia's horse country, we marvel at the fact that we're actually having fun. Yeah, fun. In a Jetta." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The volume turbocharged 1.8-liter engine mated to a six-speed automatic was an absolute thrill to drive. It felt well balanced through sharp corners. Its acceleration felt quick and the shifts always seem nearly perfectly timed, whether in normal driving mode or Sport mode." -- Motor Trend 
  • "We managed to spend time in the 1.8T and the 2.0 TDI versions of the Jettas and found enthusiastic performances from each." -- Left Lane News 

Acceleration and Power

The base Volkswagen Jetta comes with a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 170 horsepower is available in Jetta SE, Sport and SEL models. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is available with both the base and 1.8-liter engines. The Jetta TDI is available in S, SE and SEL trims, and comes with a new turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower, while Jetta GLI models feature a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 210 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automated manual is available on Jetta TDI and Jetta GLI models. The base 2015 Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 25/34 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for a compact car. However, Jetta TDI models return some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class, with up to 31/46 mpg city/highway.

Reviewers say that the VW Jetta’s base engine provides adequate power when paired with the manual transmission, and that the turbocharged 1.8-liter engine feels powerful and refined. Some critics are partial to the turbodiesel Jetta TDI, which they report offers ample torque and feels especially quick off the line. The available six-speed manual transmission on TDI and GLI models earns praise for its ease of use, and test drivers comment that the available automated manual transmission offers quick, responsive shifts.

  • "The turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine replaces the Jetta's previous 2.5-liter inline-five, and it feels pretty sprightly with 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It gets 25/37 mpg city/highway, so this engine is no slouch in the fuel economy department either." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The six-cog manual shifts cleanly and easily, but the available six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic is a particularly eager partner in play, making self-shifting all but unnecessary in its intuitive Sport mode." -- Car and Driver 
  • "While the base model's 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine was certainly the weakest engine, when mated to a five-speed manual transmission it was pleasantly comfortable and certainly livable. The smooth-shifting manual allows you to keep the car in a lower gear a little longer than the automatic and thus squeeze out that additional torque to pull the car with more fluid power." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Low-end models of the new Jetta have a 2-liter, non-turbo, gas four-cylinder. But, once into the high-volume trims, the 1.8 turbo four is the starter engine. And it's a honey. Quick, smooth, an invitation to jump and go." -- USA Today 
  • "While the 1.8T managed quick getaways, we felt more at home with the tire-squealing torque that seemed just a stomp of the pedal away from the TDI oil-burner." -- Left Lane News  

Handling and Braking

Automotive critics praise the 2015 Jetta’s controlled handling, as well as its accurate steering system that provides a decent amount of road feel. Most reviewers also report that the VW Jetta has a comfortable ride, especially in comparison to the ride in compact sedans like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. However, some note that the larger wheels found on higher trims result in a notably harsher ride.

  • "The sedan's ride is compliant, like always, seemingly offering a little more protection from bumps than compact-car rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Handling is secure, though not especially sporty." -- AutoTrader 
  • "Even with the diesel S model's modest 16-inch wheels, the Jetta has confident handling, tidy body control, and heroically low noise levels. The steering actually communicates a measure of road feel to the driver-not a lot, but some-and is quick and linear in its response." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The final test car was a high-end SEL TSI. Take it, please. ... The ride felt harsh and grainy, as if all the asphalt's texture was coming through the steering wheel. It had bigger wheels and wider tires with stubbier sidewalls - great for intense cornering, not so in ordinary driving." -- USA Today 
  • "The Jetta's suspension offered great control through the twisty routes that took us on a tour of horse country." -- Left Lane News 
Review Last Updated: 10/3/14

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