By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta continues to hit on all the proverbial cylinders in both sales and the sheer variety of forms in which it is offered. After a major redesign of the sedan in 2011 and the return of the sporty GLI version in 2012, the Jetta's stable grows again in 2013 with a hybrid version that is estimated to deliver up to 45 mpg. With its range of engine choices and available creature comforts, the Jetta can be a rival to budget compact sedans, such as the Toyota Corolla, or nearly keep pace with entry-level luxury cars such as its Audi A4 cousin. For those who need the extra room, there is the SportWagen, a 5-door wagon based on the previous-generation Jetta.
Despite prices that compete head-on with rivals from the U.S., Japan and Korea, the 2013 Jetta exudes the build quality and dynamic handling associated with a European car. Those seeking to save money on fuel will be drawn to diesel or hybrid versions.
The Jetta's historic mix of practicality and personality became a thing of the past with this latest generation, which maximized the former and minimized the latter. Base models have an appealing price but lack the character and content of their predecessors, while well-equipped models quickly lose their pricing competitiveness.
This year marks the debut of the Jetta Hybrid, Volkswagen's second hybrid (after the Touareg) and its first in the compact sedan segment. Other changes to the Jetta lineup include new leather trim in SE and higher versions, and launch control in the GLI models with automatic transmission.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Jetta's plethora of powertrains translates to a correspondingly wide range of driving experiences, from underwhelming for base models equipped with the entry-level 115-horsepower 4-cylinder engine to invigorating for...GLI versions with VW's turbocharged 4-cylinder powerhouse. Splitting the difference are Jettas equipped with a 170-horsepower 5-cylinder engine, which has a good balance of power and fuel economy. Diesel models, meanwhile, will please drivers not only with their 40-plus mpg but the torque from their powerful yet quiet engines. Though not swift, even base Jettas are comfortable and reasonably composed, while 2.5-liter and diesel models offer more competence and driving pleasure. In addition to better acceleration, the GLI has upgraded suspension, brakes and tires that transform this sedan into something truly sporty. Hybrid models have a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of less than nine seconds, swift for such a car. The Jetta Hybrid can operate in pure electric mode at speeds up to 44 mph or travel up to 1.2 miles on battery power alone.
Volkswagen is among the German automakers continuing to prove that today's diesel engines are nothing like the sooty, sputtering versions of the past. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel available in the Jetta sedan and SportWagen - mated to an automatic or manual transmission - has power to spare and fuel economy of up to 42 mpg.
Think of the GLI as the GTI of Jettas. If that alphabet soup is confusing, here's what you need to know: The GLI is one invigorating sedan. With its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and sport-tuned suspension, this is the Jetta you'll want for twisty roads.
The 2013 Jetta may be classified as a compact car, but these sedans feature a roomy, 5-passenger interior. In real-world situations, four adults will be plenty comfortable. Rear-seat legroom is commendable, as is headroom. Trunk space is a generous 15.5 cubic feet and SportWagen variants gain more than twice that room. With the 60/40-split rear seats folded, the Jetta SportWagen boasts an SUV-like 66.9 cubic feet of space, but less rear legroom than the sedan. Up front, the Jetta's cabin ranges from drab to posh, depending on trim level. Even base models have a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and height-adjustable driver's seat for a comfortable fit.
Compared with the previous generation, some might think the latest Jetta sedan to be decidedly bland. While it might not incite passion, there also isn't much to dislike. The 4-door sedan's profile is clean and well-proportioned, except for the 15-inch wheels on base models that appear small in relation to the rest of the vehicle. Premium, eye-catching alloy wheels help give higher-end models some visual pop. The sporty Jetta GLI model has a fancier honeycomb grille with chrome accents, darkened tail lights and red brake calipers. The 2013 Jetta SportWagen carries on with its larger, rounded look from the previous generation.
The 2013 Jetta is available in a wide range of trim levels, which also means a lengthy list of standard features. At the lowest end, a Jetta S has keyless entry, power windows, AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary input, cloth seats, manual air conditioning system with pollen filter and folding rear seats. SE versions add a more powerful 5-cylinder engine, leatherette seats and cruise control. SEL trims add a sunroof, 17-inch wheels and push-button start. GLI models have a turbo engine, premium sound system and sport suspension. Base SportWagens are better equipped than their sedan counterparts, with a larger engine, cruise control, 8-speaker sound system, heated front seats and Bluetooth. The 2013 Jetta also comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile no-charge scheduled maintenance program.
Aside from a 6-speed automatic transmission with sport mode, the majority of extra features in the Jetta come as trim levels rise. Among them are sunroof, navigation system, heated front seats, Fender premium audio system with touch-screen controls, push-button start, rear-view camera and bi-xenon headlights. SportWagen versions can be had with a panoramic sunroof.
Three gasoline engines, a turbodiesel and a hybrid electric powertrain are your options in the 2013 Jetta. Transmissions vary, too, from 5- and 6-speed manuals to a 6-speed automatic with a sport mode for quicker response. The Jetta Hybrid uses a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which VW says is a first among hybrid vehicles. All 2013 VW Jetta models are front-wheel-drive. Fuel economy is a strong point in VW Jettas, with the diesel and hybrid versions both attaining over 40 mpg on the highway.
115 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (manual), 23/29 mpg (automatic)
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual, sedan and wagon), 24/31 mpg (automatic, sedan and wagon)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, (GLI only)
200 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg (manual, sedan and wagon), 30/42 mpg (automatic, sedan), 29/39 (auto, wagon)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 plus electric motor
170 horsepower (combined)
184 lb-ft of torque (gas engine)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: up to 45 mpg, estimated
By Frank K on Saturday, September 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fair price, great mileage & interior comfort."
Cons: "Still looking for one-I'll get back to you..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife and I could see in the showroom that the 4-door Jetta had more rear seat legroom than virtually any car we've ever had, yet it has the smallest wheelbase. While snooping brands and dealers I stumbled onto the diesel version in internet reviews and the most eye-popping thing that jumps out at you is that the mileage numbers on the side windows you see on all new cars are UNDERSTATED for the Jetta. Our car is 30/41 but I'm reading and hearing from people that this car can get 50+ on the highway before we bought it. So with that and some other solid attributes going for it, we bought the diesel version. Our local driving number since buying has been at or near 40 since day one. And the new clean diesel is the most underappreciated option you will find on any new car lot in the USA. Much less long term maintenance, among other advantages. I'm still looking for something bad to say about this car. Well, trips to the gas station aren't as numerous as they once were, assuming you like shelling out $50 more rather than less often. One problem that diesel engines have had in the past is starting in frigid temperatures but the service guy told me that can be easily handled with gas tank additives available at auto stores. The interior is well laid out, and the standard rear back-up camera is a gift from auto Heaven. I shudder when I think of the money we've wasted on cars over the years that sadly lacked the overall quality and value of our Jetta. And no--I don't have a relative at the dealership and I don't own any VW stock."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Mike on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive, Well Equipped, Sporty"
Cons: "High Depreciation, Expensive Maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Pros: This car is good for a good professional just starting out in the work force. It was four doors making it ideal for daily living. The sporty features on the car make sure you do not get bored on your daily commute. The turbo makes sure you can have a bit of fun on the weekend. They car comes nicely equipped. Cons: The depreciation is greater than that of its Honda and Toyota counter parts. The repairs and replacement are more expensive than its Japanese competition; however, cheaper than its German competition."
11 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By JJ on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pleasure to drive"
Cons: "40,000 mile maintainence is pricey$$!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"If you are driving a lot and need room this is a very good car for mileage, handling, and roominess."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Phil on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"One of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Recent trip from mich to Florida. I 75 driving At 70 mph. Got 55 mpg. Only thing I have a problem with is the navigation system. But them I'm not a big tech person Overall my jetta premium tdi with navi for the k Last two years. Has been fantastic"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By rpauls on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seats, steering wheel, build quality (feels solid)"
Cons: "Highway acceleration, higher speed cornering."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought in early 2014 with 3,000 miles, now has 22,000 miles . Very nice car for it's purpose. I am an outside sales rep and the car's clean, handsome lines represent me well at this price point (inside has received compliments as well, I suspect the seats help). I have received many compliments on its looks. Inside, I have the leatherette seats and they are very comfortable. Steering wheel is wonderful. Driving experience is mixed. Accelerates well in town, but the I-5 struggles when at freeway speeds and want to accelerate to make a lane change or merge. Will go to "S" mode often. Fuel mileage is better than expected on the highway, not so great in the city (this might be because of my city driving habits, frequent stops at businesses). Handling is adequate at best in tight cornering, not assuring. Otherwise, nice ride with new tires I just put on. Did handle one of the roughest Wisconsin winter's on record last year with no issues (did well in snow, ABS was setup just right, heater was great, never any stress starting, never a rattle) and that earned a lot of respect from me. Car feels solid as a brick. Despite some mixed driving experience issues, I really like the car and plan on getting another VW in the future, likely a TDI or turbo depending on price. A nice car to spend a day in."
4 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Jake on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,802overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "solid , safe, great price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"they say the 2.0 l is slow, I didn't buy this as a Porsche it gets around town just fine and on the interstate it cruises at 80 miles p/hr. with the best of them, and plenty of pedal left, very pleased with the handling& brakes."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful