TodayApril 15, 2022

2019 Volkswagen Jetta first drive review

From the mouth of babes

I was sitting next to Tim, a seventeen-year young man, chatting about cars. I told him I was going to North Carolina to drive the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. Tim drives a midsize truck that he said gets nine miles per gallon. I didn’t ask him how souped-up it was, or how he drove to get only nine miles per gallon, but it did surprise me. I did ask him if he were to buy another vehicle, a sedan-type car how much he would spend on it.

He thought somewhere around $18,000 – $19,000 would be a car he could afford. He told me that his friend had a Kia Optima, so he could visualize the size of the car I was talking about, though a Forte would be more competitive. Tim said that for $19,000 he would expect the car to have heated seats and Pandora. Pandora, I asked. Not Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? No, he said, Pandora.

Tim would be happy with the Jetta S because the Jetta gets about 34 mpg, and Tim said he would be happy with anything over 18 mpg at $18,000. While there is a VW Jetta S that has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $18,545 you can’t get the cold weather package on the S model.

The only model that would work for Tim would be the SE with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $22,155. To meet the heated seat requirement, Tim would need to add the cold weather package to the SE, which would also include a heated steering wheel; heated rear seats; heated windshield wiper park and washer nozzles; and remote start for $495. The price is higher than what Tim wanted to spend, but once he drove it, he would understand why there have been 3.2 million Jetta sales since 1980, and why Jetta is the most successful European nameplate in the United States.

The one thing that might have Tim up the ante on the amount he will spend is the 400 Watt BeatsAudio system with eight speakers plus a subwoofer; and 8.0-inch Composition Media touchscreen infotainment system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a three-month trial subscription. I know this because Tim was wearing Beats noise-canceling headphones, so he knows the brand. This is the first time the beats audio system has ever been offered.

I drove the 2019 Jetta R-Line with the 1.4-liter 8-speed automatic for $22,995 for a couple of hours around Raleigh Durham and Chapel Hill. This year is the first time the Jetta has had the R-line trim level. The R-line has the cool cosmetic updates that millennials love, 17-inch dark gray “Trenton” aluminum-alloy wheels; a gloss-black front grille; R-Line rear bumper with dual exhaust; foglights; black mirror caps; R-Line badging inside and out, and more. The Cold Weather Package will be available mid-model year for $495.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta The R-line has the cool cosmetic updates that millennials love

2019 Volkswagen Jetta The R-line has the cool cosmetic updates that millennials love

The SEL Premium model I drove has the Beats audio, the full suite of safety technology including forward collision braking and warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, Digital Cockpit instruments, and a panoramic sunroof for UNDER $25,000! If I were Tim’s Mom and Dad I would spring for the extra couple thousand dollars for the safety suite offered.

2019 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA SEL premium with beats and technology

2019 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA SEL premium with beats and technology

The one technology I expect Volkswagen to enhance is the adaptive cruise control with lane departure. I was allowed about fifteen seconds with my hands off the wheel, all the time under adaptive cruise control, so I didn’t have to worry about running into a car in front of me. The lane departure was on as well, so I didn’t worry about going out of my lane. After fifteen seconds, however, the cruise control went off, and the car started slowing down. If I had fallen asleep, that would not wake me up. Compare that to Nissan’s version of the same technology which allows six seconds and starts braking roughly if you don’t put your hands on the wheel. To have this technology in a car at this price says a lot.

2019 VW Jetta adaptive cruise control with lane departure

2019 VW Jetta adaptive cruise control with lane departure

Volkswagen has brought back a Jetta that has excellent fuel economy and performance from the turbocharged engine. For a compact car, it was quite roomy, with a cavernous trunk. The controls were easy-to-use with an intuitive touchscreen interface.

The ride quality expertly balances comfort and sportiness. The turning radius was a dream, and the steering was expert. The seats were comfortable after hours of continuous driving, and the cabin was impressively quiet at highway speeds.

Most importantly, Volkswagen has given the Jetta the best warranty it has ever had – 6 years/72,000 miles bumper to bumper – and a first for VW the limited warranty is transferable. Yes, transferable from the first buyer to the second buyer and on until the warranty has expired.


1.4-liter TSI engine is paired with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine, making 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque (first introduced in MK6). There are four driver profiles. Normal, sport. Eco, and custom. Both the manual and automotive are EPA estimated fuel economy of 30 city/ 40 highway/ 34 combined.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta will be available in S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium trim levels and is expected to arrive at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the second quarter of 2018. Jetta has come along way since the first generation of cars.

the first generation of VW Jetta and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

the first generation of VW Jetta and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Models and pricing on the 2019 VW Jetta compact sedan

Jetta S
Manual $18,545
Automatic $19,345 (less than the outgoing model)
$450 driver assistance package

Jetta SE
Jetta SE starts at $22,155 and features a standard eight-speed automatic transmission

Jetta R-Line (first ever)
starts at $22,995

Jetta SEL
starts at $24,415

Jetta SEL Premium
starts at $26,945

Destination – add another $850

Competitors versus 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Toyota Corolla

Hyundai Elantra

Honda Civic

Ford Focus

Kia Forte
Mazda 3

Warranty – 6 years/72,000 miles bumper to bumper, limited warranty transferable

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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