The Volkswagen Jetta offers a number of versions for those in the market for a fun-to-drive, fuel-efficient and practical vehicle. Throw in the fact that the Jetta is neatly styled and possesses that highly touted "German engineering," and you've got a pretty nice little car on your hands.
We tested the sedan, which is available as a gasoline fueled model, a diesel or a hybrid. There is also a wagon.
The base engine is still a 2.0-liter four cylinder that makes 115 horsepower.
But VW has added a new engine that's expected to be way more popular, a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder, which replaces the five cylinder. It gets an impressive 26 mpg city, 36 highway and is well powered. However, you might notice a bit of turbo lag upon rapid acceleration. Otherwise, driving the Jetta is a pleasant and spirited experience.
If you step up to the GLI, which has a 30th anniversary trim for this model year, you'll get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 210 horsepower. The GLI also has some design goodies such as smoked taillights, dual exhaust pipes and larger wheels, and it has a sport-tuned suspension.
Opt for the diesel model and you'll get terrific efficiency at 30 mpg city and 42 highway.
The Jetta seats five in an interior that is pretty comfortable by small car standards. And there's good storage space, with a trunk that's 15.5 cubic feet.
The Jetta's low base price of around just under $17,000 is appealing, but be forewarned that the base models have few standard features, mainly just the basics you'd expect of any car today, such as air conditioning and power windows and locks. Start adding options and the price climbs commensurately, with the Jetta topping out at close to $30,000.
Volkswagen has continued to be hampered by less than stellar reliability ratings, although in recent years it has shown improvement.
But all in all, for a fuel-efficient small car that knows how to have a little fun out on the road, the Jetta is an appealing choice.