New 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan New 2019
Volkswagen Jetta Sedan

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is marking its fourth decade in existence in all-new form this year. Now in its seventh generation, VW’s 5-passenger compact sedan returns with crisp design, enhanced safety and driver-assist features, and fresh technology. Also attractive is its starting price. Starting under $20,000, it’s competitive with rivals like the Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, and Nissan Sentra. Those competitors – and just about every other small sedan – outsell the Jetta, but it’s not for lack of appeal. As the only mainstream European compact sedan on the market, the 2019 Jetta boasts zesty driving manners and contemporary design, all while hiding a few tricks up its sleeve. A higher-power Jetta GLI waits in the wings, but until then, this new model only offers one engine choice.

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You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a small sedan with taut yet comfortable driving manners and noteworthy tech that includes standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, the 2019 VW Jetta is worth a look. Volkswagen's impressive 6-year/72,000-mile transferable, bumper-to-bumper warranty also helps the Jetta stand out.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Rivals ranging from the Honda Civic to Mazda3 offer similarly fun driving manners and more engine choices, plus hatchback variants. The Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte also have standout warranties that cover 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain.

What's New for 2019

The Volkswagen Jetta is all-new for 2019. Now in its seventh generation and marking 40 years in production, VW’s small sedan returns with slightly larger dimensions, enhanced technology that includes standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, and available driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking. The sportier Jetta R-Line is a first for the model.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The 2019 VW Jetta has lost a couple of things in its current form vs. the 2018 model, but the good news is, it’s still a nimble driver. In the missing column is the option for a higher-powered (170 horsepower) 1.8-liter engine, and a multilink rear suspension. For 2019, the Jetta is only offered with a 147-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, while the former suspension has been swapped for a simpler torsion beam. Despite this, the new Jetta feels lively and agile. Acceleration is peppy, especially in Sport mode, and the handling retains the European feel that has been associated with the Jetta for decades. By “European feel,” we mean that it is both agile and fun in corners while, still proving a taut yet comfortable ride on the highway. The new 8-speed automatic transmission is a high point. Shifts are smooth, and the system eagerly kicks down gears when needed, such as for high-speed passing. Manual transmission fans take note: The new 6-speed is a joy to use. It’s easy, light and engaging. The downside is it’s only offered on the base Jetta S.

Favorite Features

DIGITAL COCKPIT
Call it trickle-down technology. This digital dashboard that debuted on VW’s luxury-brand cousin, Audi, a few years ago can now be had on a mainstream Jetta. It replaces the traditional gauges with a slick, 10.25-inch configurable screen that can display navigation maps, audio info, and, of course, speed/rpm data.

BEATS AUDIO
In another first for the Jetta, Volkswagen has partnered with Beats Audio for its premium sound system. While some of Beats’ previous systems were bass-heavy, this new setup sounds more refined and pleasing across the entire frequency spectrum.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 2019 Jetta’s 5-passenger cabin retains its clean Euro simplicity. Controls for audio, climate and the like are kept to a minimum and are easy to see and reach. All 2019 Jetta models feature a central touch screen that handles infotainment. Lower trims use a 6.5-inch display, while higher ones have a better-looking 8-inch unit. Interior room is impressive for a compact car, and matches or nearly matches that of the lauded Honda Civic. Basic cloth covers the interior of S trims. SE, R-Line and SEL trims get V-Tex leatherette, and the topline SEL Premium has real leather. At 14.1 cubic feet, the trunk is impressively large. Furthermore, standard 60/40-split rear seats add cargo-carrying practicality. One thing we found odd is the shelf behind the rear seats. It slopes upward, limiting rear visibility, and is made of inexpensive-feeling plastic that can cause glare on bright days.

Exterior

The Volkswagen Jetta has long stood out by not exactly standing out. You won’t find super flashy design or some trend-setting style element here. We don’t think this is a bad thing, especially if you like clean and classic lines that are almost certain to hold up well over time. Still, our eyes see definite improvements in this slightly larger Jetta vs. the outgoing model. The wraparound grille is handsome without being overt. One of the most interesting features -- and challenging from a metalworking perspective – are the creases that run nearly the length of each side. The R-Line model kicks up the sporty factor with a unique grille and bumper, and black side-mirror caps. As with the SEL Premium, the R-Line also comes with fog lights.

Notable Standard Equipment

If you can only afford a Jetta S base model, you’ll still get a decently equipped car. Included are the basics like air conditioning, power windows/doorlocks, and a turbocharged engine, cruise control, LED headlights, 16-inch wheels, rearview camera, and an infotainment system that bundles a 6.5-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/MirrorLink smartphone connectivity, 4-speaker AM/FM radio, a USB port, and Bluetooth connectivity. An automatic transmission, which most people will prefer, is $800 extra. If you can afford the roughly $23,000 starting price, we recommend stepping up to at least the Jetta SE. It is better equipped with an automatic transmission, panoramic moonroof, leatherette interior, heated front seats, keyless access with push-button start, and dual-zone climate control. Moreover, it includes safety features like blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

Notable Optional Equipment

Continuing the trim climb, the new Jetta R-Line adds the VW GTI-derived XDS electronic front differential for better handling, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and 2-tone seating. Stepping up to the SEL grants the Digital Cockpit (see Favorite Features), upgraded 8-inch central touch screen, Beats premium audio, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED projector headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. At the top, the SEL Premium includes leather interior, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, 8-way power driver’s seat, and heated steering wheel.

Under the Hood

All 2019 Jetta trims are front-wheel drive and powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, mostly carried over from the previous generation. It is down a few horsepower, but gains efficiency, attaining the coveted 40-mpg highway fuel-economy rating. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual that’s standard on base models or an 8-speed automatic that’s optional on the base trim and standard on every other. The automatic features an idle start/stop system that cuts power at stoplights to save fuel. Restarts are quite smooth, and the system can be switched off with the press of a button by the gear lever. Unlike some other turbo engines, this one runs fine on regular unleaded gasoline instead of the pricier premium stuff.

1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
147 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/40 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The 2019 VW Jetta has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $19,395 for a base S model. Most buyers will prefer an automatic transmission, which is $800 extra. The more recommendable Jetta SE starts at $23,005. At the top, the Jetta SEL Premium runs just under $28,000. At these prices, the Jetta is competitive with the roughly 10 other rivals in its segment, slightly undercutting the Honda Civic and slotting above the starting prices of the Kia Forte, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, and Nissan Sentra. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to get an idea of what others in your area are paying for their new car. While this is an all-new model, for reference the Jetta’s resale value has traditionally trailed that of rivals like the Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza, and Mazda3.

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