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 Passing lane on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Efficient and fun to drive"
Cons: "Hurts right knee rests against the center console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"While still new, I believe VW has designed and build a great car for this purpose. I like the capacity-carrying of a wagon, and yet has tight handling of a sedan. Great fuel efficiency, power, smooth cruising. I'll check in before 100k for an update."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By TW on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I was first looking for a car upon taking an outside sales position I needed the following: great on fuel mileage, would keep up with 25-30k miles annually, easy to maintain, and was overall looking for an affordable option. My 2012 Jetta TDI has not let me down, currently just under 80k miles in my two and a half years of owning it and am so happy with my purchase that I'm looking at getting a Passat TDI now. I drive anywhere from 1-3k miles per month for my job, being able to get 600 miles on a tank highway commute is a timesaver! Best tank to date has been 46 mpg, but usually hover around 41/42 mpg with 80% highway / 20% city driving. Pros: bottom line is fuel mileage!, maintenance only every 10k, quality sound system for the size of vehicle, leg room is adequate compared to other cars in class, great handling, and fun to drive with the turbo, manual shift is butter smooth Cons: Initial purchase price of diesel (break even point is usually about 100,000 miles), maintenance can be a bit pricey (but is only every 10k), doesn't handle great in snow, interior isn't as nice as is past models, leather quality isn't the same as the premium models"
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Noel50 on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exceptional fuel efficiency, sure-footed handling."
Cons: "Poor traction in snow, road noise."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I initially leased this 2011 TDI Sportwagen then purchased it at lease-end (36 months).Overall, it has been incredibly economical (44 mpg hwy/31 overall) and reliable. It is comfortable (I'm 6'2") with an adequate sound system (not great). My only knock on the car is that it is not snow-friendly. The vehicle came with Continental tires that were toast within 32,000 miles. I then added Michelin "Defender" all-season tires thinking it would improve snow handling. It did not improve snow handling much at all. Assuming you do not need to count on in in a snowstorm, it is well worth the price."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Kody on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,680overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well priced, solid handling, nice interior space"
Cons: "Some issue with this year model axle?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the car as my first personal vehicle (no parental aid either financially or advisory), was more than satisfied with the experience. Was able to finance it on my own, and for the age I was, the car did wonders for me in terms of reliability, and the quality was just top notch in terms of mechanical composition. Fantastic vehicle for Interstate travel and around town travel."
26 people out of 46 found this review helpful
By john karr on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"bought a Jetta 2015 tsi. driven 8 hundred miles.Car rides good and has good power Handles well. Miss having a temperature gauge and fog lights.Interior is quite, solid.Because car is new waiting to see how reliability will be"
30 people out of 57 found this review helpful
By kyle on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I absolutely loved my 2009 Jetta Wolfsburg (2.0T) but it was getting high miles so I thought I'd trade it in for the new Jetta. In hindsight, I really wish I had kept my MKV. This new MKVI style feels dumbed down and the quality is not nearly up to par with the MKV. Cheap plastic dash, versus the soft touch before. Leatherette feels much more rubbery that before. Then engine note makes me feel sad compared to the MKV. I still can't find a really comfortable seating position even after a year of owning it. The radio in this car is by far the worst I've heard of any car I've owned. The MKV had 10 speakers which put out some really decent range. The MKVI has 6 speakers that sound worse than a Fisher Price walkie-talkie. Even after upgrading speakers, the sound just isn't satisfying and all the doors have rattled the entire time I have owned it. I'm sure I could think of more but I won't bother. As soon as I break even, I'm trading it in, maybe sooner."
13 people out of 28 found this review helpful