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Base model shown as 2020 S Manual w/SULEV
2020 Volkswagen Jetta S Manual w/SULEV - front view

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Top Features of Base Model

  • All-new car for 2019
  • More safety features
  • Better fuel economy
  • GLI model sportier than base
Pro Review

Volkswagen Jetta: Everything You Need to Know

About the Volkswagen Jetta:

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is the company’s mainstay compact sedan. It comes only as a four-door sedan. The standard model comes in S, SE, or SEL trim levels, while the sportier Jetta GLI has a larger, more powerful engine.

The Jetta was historically one of the sportier compact sedans on the market. The new 2019 model, however, isn’t as performance-oriented—which makes it more mainstream than ever.

What’s New in the Current 2019 Volkswagen Jetta?

The VW Jetta was completely redesigned for 2019, replacing an aged model launched for 2011.

  • Base engine: 147-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo four producing 184 pound-feet of torque.
  • Jetta GLI engine: 228-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four producing 258 pound-feet of torque.
  • Either engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
  • Optional transmissions: eight-speed automatic for 1.4, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual for 2.0.
  • All Jettas are front-wheel drive.
  • EPA ratings: 34 and 28 mpg combined for the 1.4 and 2.0 engines, respectively.
  • (Note VW rates 2.0 engine power on premium fuel; EPA tests with regular fuel).

What Does the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Compete With?

As U.S. domestic makers exit the compact sedan segment, Jetta competitors are now entirely foreign-branded. They include:

The Jetta used to compete with Honda and Mazda as a sportier entry, but now it’s halfway between the very sporty Mazda 3 and mainstream entries like the Elantra and Corolla. Jetta buyers are often young single people, small families, or commuters.

Exterior Design of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta has always had a conventional, “three-box” sedan shape, and the latest version doesn’t stray from that. It’s recognizably a Volkswagen, with similar grille, angular windows, and side accent lines to any other VW sedan. LED headlights are standard; a sunroof is optional.

The new design remains distinctive because it’s less of a fastback than competitors like the Hyundai Elantra. But it also risks anonymity. Remove the big chrome “VW” emblem from the grille, and you might not be able to identify which carmaker built the Jetta. Buyers may be fine with that.

Interior Style in the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

European cars used to be tight inside, but the 2019 VW Jetta is expansive and can carry four adults comfortably, even five in a pinch. The front seats are only average—some riders want more lumbar support—though the sport seats in top trims are better. Access to the rear is very good, with wide door openings and legroom on par with some midsize sedans.

Cabin materials are an array of soft and hard plastics, accent trims, and cloth or synthetic leather seats. VW adds the odd bit of brightwork too. However, rear-seat riders who’ve spent time in front will notice that all the trim is hard plastic, while up front the surfaces are soft-touch. VW suggests most Jetta owners drive solo most of the time. Trunk volume is about average at 14.1 cubic feet. The LATCH attachments get so-so ratings from the IIHS. Storage space in the front compartment is competitive.

What Technology Comes in the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta?

Small cars compete on features too, and the 2019 VW Jetta is well-equipped at most trim levels. Every version has a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and audio controls in the steering wheel. The popular SE trim adds a moonroof, a package of standard safety features, heated front seats, and keyless ignition.

The high-end SEL model takes a big jump, with fully digital gauges in a 10.25-inch thin-film display in the instrument cluster and a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen in the dash. Navigation is only offered on the SEL Premium model, which also adds a premium Beats audio system, cooled as well as heated front seats, and more active-safety features. The sporty GLI adds 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a lowered and tuned suspension, and dual exhausts. It has a top-end version that echoes the SEL equipment list as well.

What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta?

The new 2019 VW Jetta gets an overall five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, its highest. It earns four or five stars on individual crash tests. The IIHS gives it the highest scores of ‘Good’ on all crash tests, but rates its headlight options as either ‘Poor’ or ‘Marginal,’ its two lowest ratings.

All but the base Jetta S trim come standard with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Adding those features to a base S model is a modest $450 upgrade. If you want adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic LED headlights, you’ll have to opt for the SEL model.

What is the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Like to Drive?

VW Jettas used to be sporty sedans. Now, VW has built a standard Jetta so mainstream that its docile handling and roadholding—while competent and adequate—isn’t remarkable. If you’re looking for driving fun, you should consider the six-speed manual gearbox, with excellent shift quality. The small turbo engine and eight-speed automatic are well-matched, though. The interior is quiet unless you’re thrashing the engine, and the ride is smooth and comfortable.

The Jetta GLI’s modified suspension and larger, more powerful engine is the ticket to driving fun. It’s far from the cheapest version, but it’s more akin to Jettas of old. And its seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission snaps off fast shifts that encourage lively driving. Outward vision in both models is decent.

Should I Buy a Current 2019 Volkswagen Jetta?

The VW Jetta used to be Volkswagen’s highest-volume U.S. model. As with the car market as a whole, that honor is now shifting to crossover utility vehicles. The Jetta is still a mainstay in the lineup, and you may find dealers have to offer more incentives than usual to move it because it’s a sedan. The base car is innocuous and competes head-to-head with other compact sedans, but the most rewarding version is the Jetta GLI. For driving fun, that’s the one to have.

Should I Buy a Used 2019 Volkswagen Jetta? Are There Any I Should Avoid?

The Jetta has been on the market for decades, but most used ones these days will be the generation sold from 2011 through 2018. They may be more fun to drive on average than the new car, but more recent versions are shy of some standard equipment buyers may expect. The Jetta didn’t get a single USB port until 2016, for instance. Any remaining diesel TDI Jettas on the market will have been modified to meet emission rules they originally violated. They’re the most fuel-efficient versions, but you may hear frequent mentions of the VW diesel scandal if you get one.

How Much Does the New 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Cost?

The base 2019 Volkswagen Jetta S starts at just under $20,000. That price includes a mandatory delivery fee and applies to the version with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Jetta S omits a package of active-safety features standard on every other trim level, though buyers can add it for a reasonable $450. The mainsteam SE model starts at a few thousand dollars more, but the top-end Jetta SEL starts above $28,000—a healthy jump.

The sporty Jetta GLI starts just over $27,000, and the top SEL trim starts at almost $29,000. Compact sedans now come with lots of electronic systems, making them pricier than they used to be. The Jetta’s value comes down to how buyers view the brand and how they intend to use the car. Buyers also need to assess whether Jettas have approached the legendary durability and reliability of competitors like Toyota. So far, Volkswagen hasn’t cleared that hurdle.

Pros and Cons of the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta


  • All-new this year
  • More standard and optional safety features
  • GLI model powerful, fun to drive
  • Good safety ratings


  • Blander, more mainstream than it was
  • Handling and roadholding close to average
  • Rear-seat materials cruder than those up front
  • May prove invisible in parking lots
Model History

The History of the Volkswagen Jetta: 40 Decades of Jetta

The new 2019 VW Jetta marks the 40th year for the compact sedan. While it used to be a Volkswagen Golf with a trunk replacing the hatchback, it’s now an entirely distinct model. Two-door versions ended decades ago, and it’s now only a four-door sedan. The prior generation had a long run, from 2011 through 2018, and was outdated by the end of that time. Jettas were traditionally on the sporty end of the compact scale, but that has lessened considerably in the last two generations. Like other VW models, TDI diesel versions were available as the fuel-efficiency leaders. That ended in the aftermath of the VW diesel emission scandal of 2015 and later.

Specs & Key Features of the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta


Body Style
1.4L TSI I-4 Turbocharged
147 hp
6-Speed Manual
Passenger Doors
Passenger Seating
Front Wheel Drive
City MPG

Key Features

  • Air Conditioning
  • Android Auto
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Audio
  • Back Up Camera
  • Bluetooth
  • Cruise Control
  • LCD Monitor
  • LED Lights
  • Monitors
  • Remote Keyless Entry
  • Tinted Glass

More Features

  • Engine: 1.4L TSI I-4 Turbocharged -inc: DOHC 16-valve, direct fuel injection
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 3.39 Axle Ratio
  • Engine Oil Cooler
  • 60-Amp/Hr 540CCA Maintenance-Free Battery w/Run Down Protection
  • 140 Amp Alternator
  • Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
  • Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
  • Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
  • 13.2 Gal. Fuel Tank
  • Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
  • Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
  • Torsion Beam Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist, Hill Hold Control and Electric Parking Brake
  • Security System Pre-Wiring
  • Wheels: 16" Silver-Painted Alloy
  • Tires: 16" All-Season
  • Spare Tire Mobility Kit
  • Clearcoat Paint
  • Body-Colored Front Bumper
  • Body-Colored Rear Bumper
  • Chrome Side Windows Trim
  • Body-Colored Door Handles
  • Body-Colored Power Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
  • Fixed Rear Window w/Defroster
  • Light Tinted Glass
  • Variable Intermittent Wipers
  • Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
  • Black Grille w/Chrome Accents
  • Front License Plate Bracket
  • Trunk Rear Cargo Access
  • Fully Automatic Aero-Composite Led Low/High Beam Daytime Running Headlamps w/Delay-Off
  • Perimeter/Approach Lights
  • LED Brakelights
  • Radio: Composition Color w/6.5" Touchscreen -inc: AM/FM radio and WMA/MP3 player w/USB input, VW App-Connect smartphone integration and interface w/Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, capability for in-vehicle 4G LTE enabled Wi-Fi (cellular data plan required; includes limited trial), capability for VW Car-Net services (capabilities for certain services vary; requires enrollment or subscription), 4-speaker sound system and Bluetooth connectivity (for compatible devices)
  • Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Steering Wheel Controls and Radio Data System
  • Audio Theft Deterrent
  • Window Grid Diversity Antenna
  • 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
  • Front Comfort Seats -inc: 6-way manual driver's seat w/height adjustment and 4-way manual front passenger seat
  • Driver Seat
  • Passenger Seat
  • 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
  • Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
  • Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
  • Power Rear Windows
  • Front Cupholder
  • Rear Cupholder
  • Power Fuel Flap Locking Type
  • Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, Illuminated Entry and Panic Button
  • Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access
  • Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
  • Manual Air Conditioning
  • HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
  • Glove Box
  • Driver Foot Rest
  • Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Door Panel Insert and Metal-Look Interior Accents
  • Full Cloth Headliner
  • Urethane Gear Shift Knob
  • Cloth Seat Trim
  • Day-Night Rearview Mirror
  • Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors
  • Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage and 1 12V DC Power Outlet
  • Rear Map Lights
  • Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
  • Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front Floor Mats
  • Carpet Floor Trim
  • Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
  • Cargo Space Lights
  • FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate
  • Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
  • Power 1st Row Windows w/Front And Rear 1-Touch Up/Down
  • Delayed Accessory Power
  • Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
  • Systems Monitor
  • Redundant Digital Speedometer
  • Trip Computer
  • Outside Temp Gauge
  • Analog Display
  • Seats w/Cloth Back Material
  • Manual Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
  • Front Center Armrest
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • 1 12V DC Power Outlet
  • Air Filtration
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
  • Side Impact Beams
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
  • Low Tire Pressure Warning
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
  • Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
  • Airbag Occupancy Sensor
  • Rear Child Safety Locks
  • Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
  • Back-Up Camera

Warranty Options for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta (5)










Roadside Assistance






Available Trims for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta (7)

S Manual w/SULEV
MSRP Starting at
S Auto w/ULEV
MSRP Starting at
SE Auto w/ULEV
MSRP Starting at
R-Line Manual w/SULEV
MSRP Starting at
R-Line Auto w/ULEV
MSRP Starting at
MSRP Starting at
SEL Premium Auto w/ULEV
MSRP Starting at

Safety Ratings for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta

US NHTSA Crash Test Results

Results shown are for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta S Manual w/SULEV:

Overall Rating
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
Rollover Rating

Dynamic Test Result

No Tip

Risk of Rollover


Rollover Note

Dynamic (moving) test results (Tip or No Tip) and measured rollover-related properties determine vehicle's risk of rollover in single vehicle crash and its rollover rating. The Rollover Resistance Rating utilizes a "fishhook" maneuver which is a series of abrupt turns at varying speeds to see how "top-heavy" a vehicle is.


Male: Average sized adult male dummy in 35-MPH crash into fixed barrier. Rating is evaluation of injury to head, neck, chest, legs. Female: Small-sized adult female dummy in 35-mph crash into fixed barrier. Rating is evaluation of injury to head, neck, chest, legs.