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 Grandpa62 on Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, fun to drive, roomy, quiet, comfy"
Cons: "no temp gauge, prop rod for hood"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I now have over 7000 miles on my SE and it drives great! The ride is firm, quiet and comfortable. On a recent trip to the coast we got 39-40 mpg on the highway. My highest mileage was 41.3 and I average 33-34 to and from work. Exterior and interior appearance is simple and functional. I'm not a big "whistles and bells" guy so this car was a perfect fit. The new 1.8T engine has plenty of pep The 6 speed Tiptronic is set up to keep the rpm's low but will get peppy as the gas pedal is pushed. Very roomy. Drives like more expensive car."
12 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Rick on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast, fun and economical with plenty of cargo room"
Cons: "Rear seat legroom for adult passengers."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Great car, but a tad bit small when both boys grow to 6 feet tall by 13 years old. Back seat leg room is the only thing this wagen lacks. An all around reliable, economical, and sporty diesel with enough gadgets for anyone."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Domo on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have had this car for two years and love it. Its affordable and has everything i need. Sunroof, touch screen radio, heated seats. I had a few issues with my bluetooth freezing while playing music but once the technology was updated to accomodate my iphone software it has worked fine. Plenty of room in the back for passengers, lots of trunk space and gets great gas mileage. I love the design of the car its sporty. I have the dark grey and it looks great and doesnt show dirt badly at all."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By platinum13 on Thursday, September 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "cool sounding 5 cyl, push button, rear seat room"
Cons: "no remote start, small navi, no power seat, bland"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"So far this car has really impressed me. This is my third MK6 the other two were TDI's and I have never had one issue with any of them. They are very roomy for a small car and offer better than EPA fuel economy. I travel often and at 80 miles an hour I get 31MPG/ At 70mph I get 34MPG. The down sides are the navigation is small, rear torsion beam, no remote start, no power seats, etc. It really needs more options which is what the 2015 Jetta should take care of. Overall I love the car. I typically only buy American vehicles but there is something about the VW's I love."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By TDI Fan on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fit and Finish, Road feel, driver feedback, MPG!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned all the common german brands and many of themm BMW, MB, Audi. I decided that I wanted to get something that had an amazing build quality as to fit and finish but more importantly fuel economy was of importance. I ended doing my research and landed on the Jetta TDI Sortswagon with sunroof and nav with an MSRP of $31,355. I can not say enough great things about this car!! It makes me smile when driving it. I am averaging 40mpg as a whole and it drives like a dream. The suspension is just plain amazing as to being compliant but not too compliant. I could go on and on but the bottom line its just a huge bang for the buck...I can not ding it for anything which is hard to say."
24 people out of 42 found this review helpful
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."
31 people out of 55 found this review helpful