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 tm on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive and economical to maintain"
Cons: "interior materials are inferior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is my second Jetta TDI. This time I opted for all of the options. The vehicle has been very reliable with zero mechanical issues during the first 35K miles. The only issues that I have experienced have been with the inferior interior materials. Love the mileage and reliability!!"
By R on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "Cloth interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very happy with my 2012 Jetta. I owned a 2005 Dodge Neon when I turned 16 and totaled it when I went to college, and after that I owned a 2000 Buick Century and of course neither of those compare! My opinion might be a bit biased since the Jetta is much nicer than my two previous cars, but I don't see my opinion changing anytime soon. Everyone I have known to own a Jetta has absolutely loved it."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By rtrdad on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "quiet, great clutch and shifter feel, good MPG's"
Cons: "smidge more power would be ok, 60K timing belt"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had my Jetta for 2 months. Its my daily commuter. I traded in a 2013 Versa Sedan for the Jetta. I was not in the market for a car but saw VW had a sale in October for 5K off sticker ! My Jetta S 5 speed was 17,700 and I got it for 12,700 plus taxes. It was a no brainer as that was nearly the amount of the Versa. The Jetta is a quiet, steady , sturdy machine. It is not a speed demon but I was looking for the cheapest Jetta not the fastest. The S has lots of bang for the buck like keyless entry with truck release, an AUX jack for the radio etc. The seats are firm but my big body is getting used to them. Fit and finish is superb and even with the 2.0 its a more than adequate interstate cruiser. I wish it had cruise control and an I-pod interface. I average 36mpg and get over 40 on the interstate."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By James on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I can't be more pleased with my car. 42 mpg overall, plus quick enough to be fun. I like the fact that the car leaves a much smaller "carbon footprint" than it's hybrid competition. VW doesn't take weight out of the body to get it's fuel economy so you still have that safe, solid German feel."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By tkpdc on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas"
Cons: "not a tough car I feel like it can break any time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We have had this car for 2 years it has devaluated so fast and it's has given so much problems with electrial. I know people are very happy with their Jettas it's sad that we have had such bad experience. We Want get rid of it soon. Their customer service was great."
10 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Tweetconn on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Fun to Drive, Quiet, Quality Driving Feel"
Cons: "Prop rod for engine hood, No engine temp guage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2014 Jetta in March. My 2001 Jetta GL had given me great reliability and good service for 169000 miles and is still running great. After I sold it to a colleague I bought my new one. It has 10000 miles already and has been trouble free. It is roomy and quiet. The exterior and interior are not flashy but then neither am I. There is no learning curve for the controls in the interior. Everything is well laid out and easy to use. The seats are supportive and have lumbar support. The ride is firm but not harsh. The new 1.8 turbo engine is super. It does not use oil. My best mileage is 42.3 mpg but averages 32-34 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The 6 speed automatic shifts down quickly, keeping the rpm's relatively low. All you need to do to accelerate quickly is step on the gas. Trust me, the 1.8 has plenty of power. The SE drives like a larger car. Lots of trunk space too."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful