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 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."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By harve on Thursday, January 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, roomy and economical."
Cons: "Needs a few more ponies under the hood"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Jetta gives you the interior space of a Mercedes C class with the price of a Korean car. The handling is best in class. The warranty was best in class. The 2.0 liter engine is rated at 114hp, yet you can stay with traffic with no problem, and you can wind it out without stressing the engine. I have exceeded epa gas ratings of 24 and 34 with 28 and 37 mpg. The interior is spacious and comfortable, with the rear seat folding flat for cargo and a trunk you can put a couple of bodies in. Included is a full size spare. No inflation kit or compact spare. The car is fun to drive, period."
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Copper on Sunday, January 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, good styling"
Cons: "Sluggish engine and transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this car for nearly one year. Driving is sluggish with the entry-level engine. Fuel economy is not as advertised. First VW purchase and likely my last. Not impressed."
7 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By pat on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "truly over priced"
Cons: "cheap plastic interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Inferior interior, old fashioned look. Drives well, peppy great mileage, but why pay for diesel. Engine is quality, but overpriced maintenance and failure of many small components make it an overpriced purchase. Extended warranty is quite overpriced. I will return to Toyota."
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By CK on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Bought the Sportwagen TDI primarily for the fuel efficiency; having driven a number of TDI Golfs in the UK and getting over 65 mpg ('real' gallons!). A bit disappointed that with the US version I only get about 49 mpg (US gallons - or 56mpg UK gallons); we previously had a Fiat 500 and got 45 mpg. Further problem is the alloy wheels; having had the first service at about 6000 miles we were told that all four needed replacing/repairing at over $1000/$650; we have a VW Beetle with steel rims and use it alternatively on the same routes with no issues (and have had cars with alloys before, never with any problems) - maybe a size of car to rim problem - certainly the rims really aren't fit for purpose... . Despite these issues, it's okay (would have preferred a Passat wagon - but they stopped selling those in the US). It drives well, has good acceleration."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jason on Friday, December 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "peppy, good mpg, roomy"
Cons: "reduced quality from previous years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We typically LOVE our VW's and have owned several over the years...and now our kids own them as well. I has been several years since we purchased our last new Jetta and I can tel you that we have been quite disappointed in the "cheapening" of the car. They have made several reductions in quality and convenience that are greatly missed from our previous models. Hidden truck hinges are a thing of the past for VW, opting instead for large intruding hinge arms so I can no longer pack my trunk full. Gas struts on the hood have been replaced with a prop rod. Engine temp gauge is missing, which we watched all the time to determine when the engine was warm enough to turn the heat on. Leather is no longer an interior option, and it doesn't get nearly as good a fuel mileage as our last Jetta TDI (we got 49-51 consistently for over 400k miles, new car has yet to break 41mpg) If it weren't for the mileage of the TDI (even at the reduced milage it's still better than most out there) we would have opted for a higher quality vehicle. We LOVED our previous Jetta, we tolerate this one."
23 people out of 47 found this review helpful