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
As you'd expect from a model with such a wide range of trims, the Jetta's price varies from a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $16,000 for a base model with no options to over $32,000 for a top-line GLI Autobahn edition with the works. The 2013 Jetta SportWagen begins around $21,000 and the 2013 Jetta Hybrid begins in the mid-$20,000 range. In lower trims, the Jetta's price is similar to rivals in this competitive segment, such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. The 2013 Jetta's price begins higher than that of the Dodge Dart, Kia Forte and Mazda3, and lower than the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers in your area are paying for the 2013 Jetta. Long-term, the Volkswagen Jetta is expected to have average-to-good resale value, with high-mileage diesel versions of the sedan and wagon faring better, but below segment leaders such as the Subaru Impreza, Mazda3 and Honda Civic Si.
By Matt6251 on Sunday, August 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Good Looking, stock speakers rock."
Cons: "hard to work on, cheap interior."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I owned a 2008 Cobalt and I am disappointed I did not look into Jettas sooner. I am very impressed with the handling. I would of liked to see more quality on the inside of the car. I have switches going into my dashboard area and my accessory plug in the back is broke. Great looking car its got sport but it also has luxury. I can't say I haven't got looks while driving it around town. The seats are so comfortable you can sleep in them. I lay back the seats and I am out in 5 minutes. It has not broke down on me yet (knocking on some wood right now). The only thing I am afraid about is the cost of repairs because of the fact not even walmart sells the air filter or windshield wipers for it."
By MobileMike on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low-key styling, fit and finish, fuel economy"
Cons: "Bluetooth system, it isn't given to your at birth."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is one of those cars where you have to own it to appreciate it and I have through every one of the last 95,000 miles. The Sportwagen is a great mix of everything. The panoramic roof is fantastic and being able to close the shade with the oversized sunroof open is a great pleasure. I opted for the 6-speed manual on the TDI model and haven't regretted it a bit. Fuel economy is excellent, and driving it is a pleasure with a solid and safe feel. In regards to technology, there is just enough of it. The touchscreen radio is included with or without navigation. Nav isn't worth getting these days as our smartphones typically have superior navigation to any car system. Using a smartphone with the bluetooth system however isn't exactly a pleasure. The ambient noise on the handsfree system makes calls sound a little distant on the other end and create havoc when using Siri. That aside, streaming bluetooth audio works well and radio is just over the line of "good" in regards to sound quality. If own a Toyota or Nissan you probably will think this car doesn't have enough tech; but at the same, if you own a Toyota or Nissan you also probably shouldn't be allowed to make your own car buying decisions. Interior fit and finish is, for the most part, very good - certainly one of the best for under $30k. The vinyl seats don't look fake and the optional rubber floormats are a perfect fit. Styling overall is very unoffensive. When you show up in a Sportwagen it isn't like showing up in a car, most people won't judge you by it. It's nice, but it isn't flashy and gives off the same vibe as a Ford Explorer - you just kind of 'appear' in it, which is great. On top of everything, it is useful! The seats fold completely flat and quite a bit will fit in there, even more than will fit in a Tiguan. Overall, I have never regretted purchasing this car. The fuel economy is great, the body style is useful and it is just a pleasure to own and drive."
7 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Helipilot2 on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Durability and reliability of a Diesel engine."
Cons: "Higher maintenance cost."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am really enjoying the Jetta TDI. It handles very well in bad weather conditions and it feels like it is bullet proof. One of the downside is the cost of maintenance. It's a little high..."
7 people out of 16 found this review helpful