For its fortieth birthday, the VW Jetta compact sedan gets a new look for 2019, reflecting a discernibly new DNA. With plans to “become a volume brand in the United States,” Volkswagen will use an enhanced warranty, aggressive pricing, and improved fuel economy to make that happen.
While car sales are down, they’re definitely not out. More compact cars sold in March of this year than midsize, small, and large sport utility vehicles combined, according to The Wall Street Journal and rising gas prices will energize compact car sales even more.
Since its introduction in 1979, the Jetta has seen seven redesigns, each a subtle improvement on the last generation. Not so for the seventh version. With its bold trapezoidal grille, sloping roofline, rear spoiler, and available LED projector headlights, the new look amounts to a bold move for VW. It’s also longer, wider, and taller than the outgoing model.
At the recent launch in Durham, NC, attended by Latino Traffic Report, we drove the Jetta SEL powered by a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with direct injection, standard on all 2019 Jettas, matched to the all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is available on the base model and for an extra $450, it can also be equipped with the blind spot, rear traffic, and forward collision warning systems. Rarely offered on a base model, much less one with a manual transmission, available technology like this represents another bold move for VW.
The engine produces 147 horses and 184 lb.–ft. of torque. Assisted by improved aerodynamics, the new Jetta has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with either the manual or the automatic. It averaged 35.8 mpg on the test drive.
An expanded exterior usually translates into a roomier interior, and so it is on the new Jetta, with more head, knee, and shoulder room than before. The standard 60/40-split rear seat also adds convenience and versatility. Additional standard convenience features include a rearview camera, a multi-function steering wheel, a trip computer displayed in the instrument cluster with information like fuel consumption, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and AM/FM radio and one USB port. Stepping up one trim level to the SE, however, adds lots more stuff like, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic tilting sunroof,and most importantly, and the afore mentioned blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning with emergency braking.
Offering offering luxury features like heated and ventilated front seats, BeatsAudio, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, ten-color ambient lighting, and Driving Mode Selection, VW’s compact sedan could be called the adult in its competitive set.
Finally, the Jetta will be covered by VW’s best-in-class transferable six-year/72,000-mile (whichever comes first) bumper-to bumper warranty, a move the manufacturer hopes will inspire renewed confidence in the brand.
Pricing for the 2019 Jetta starts at $19,440 with destination fees.