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Volkswagen Jetta

This best-seller isn’t necessarily the best.



We gave the redesigned Jetta a cool reception when it arrived in 2011, but there’s no denying that the car has been a success for Volkswagen. Increased sales have been made possible through significantly lower prices, which are the result of fewer standard features and less-sophisticated technologies. Not only does the Jetta revert to a twist-beam rear suspension as in the car from two generations prior, but the old 2.0-liter four-cylinder from that car reappears, too. Most buyers will opt for the 2.5-liter five-cylinder, which is a better match for the rather sizable Jetta. VW has dialed back materials quality, too, but the interior is still competitive with the best cars in the class. The back seat is enormous, and visibility is great. The de-contenting doesn’t apply to the Jetta Sportwagen or the performance-minded GLI sedan. Those models retain the multilink rear suspension, sharper steering, and higher-quality interior that the Jetta’s reputation was built on. Both the sedan and the wagon are available with a frugal, spirited, and quiet diesel engine that can be mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Alternatively, there’s a Jetta Hybrid that’s equally rewarding and even more efficient. In all, the Jetta doesn’t drive as well as the previous model or the Golf, but it is still a comfortable cruiser that’s a safe buy.


Chevrolet Cruze

Ford Focus

Honda Civic

Subaru Impreza

new for 2013

Although the Jetta is already available in diesel-sipping TDI trim, there’s a new, even more efficient Hybrid model for 2013 that is expected to achieve 45 mpg for its combined city/highway rating. The gas-electric Jetta is one of the better-driving hybrids you can buy, thanks to the fact that it retains Volkswagen’s signature dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of adopting a continuously variable transmission like most other hybrids.


Standard features include ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control.

High Mileage


CITY 22–30

HWY 32–42


Smooth ride

Roomy rear seat

GLI is fun and spirited


Anemic base engine

Cost-cut interior

Imprecise steering

Base Price Range: $17,470–$26,000 (est.)


DRIVE: Front-wheel


BODY STYLES: Sedan, wagon, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 1.4L turbo I-4/electric hybrid, 170 hp

2.0L I-4, 115 hp, 125 lb-ft

2.0L turbo-diesel I-4, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft

2.0L turbo I-4, 200 hp, 207 lb-ft

2.5L I-5, 170 hp, 177 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic


CARGO SPACE: 15.5 cu ft

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