2019 Volkswagen Jetta review with video

The Basics:
Base price: $20,995 + taxes
As tested price: $30,090 + taxes
Fuel economy over a week: 6.8 L/100 kms (34.5 US MPG)
Competitors: Chevy Cruz, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, etc.

Well, here come the 2019s! The new Jetta is the first of the new model year for us to check-out and it’s a great car to usher in the next wave because it has been totally reimagined for 2019. Its wheelbase is slightly larger. Its ride and fuel economy have been improved with the arrival of VW’s MQB platform into the Jetta family. And standard equipment has been given a boost, too. The Jetta has been a top seller for VW in the past and the company has high expectations for this latest generation to regain the mantle of top seller in Canada. For the full review, check-out the video above and then take a look at our bullet point report card below.

Pros:
– The new Jetta’s line of trims has been cut down for 2019 in Canada. It now starts at the Comfortline with a starting price just shy $21,000. For that base price, you now get 16 inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated front seats, a 6.5 inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a rear back-up camera, automatic start/stop, and all trims are treated to the same 1.4-litre turbo engine
– And speaking of the latest and greatest, all trims have two whole new transmissions available. At last, VW swapped out the pretty antiquated 5 speed stick shift with a six speed. There’s also the 8 speed automatic transmission for an extra $1400. It’s really smooth and edges out the stick for efficiency, too
– Volkswagen says you should average around 7 L/100 kms during combined highway and city driving but we were able to best those numbers. If you really behave yourself, we saw numbers down to 5.5 L/100 kms. But the turbo will certainly punish a heavy foot
– In terms of fit and finish and general quality feel in this car, it’s tough to beat in this class. In fact, I think the Mazda3 is the only car that really gives the Jetta a run for its money on that front. The materials look good, the seats are comfortable, the infotainment system is clear and straight forward to use, and the optional digital instrument cluster on the top trim leads the class
– The back seat in this car is quite roomy. Interestingly though, while the Jetta’s wheel base has been extended over the previous generation, its second row is actually slightly tighter. I couldn’t quite believe that when I got on board, and a big reason for that is that the roofline, which has been recontoured. It feels more spacious. And when it boils down to liveability, our rear facing car seat test still came out with some very solid results. We measured 28.5 inches from the back of the front passenger seat cushion up to the glove box. So even at 6’2, I was fine up there. And with my wife driving, there was tonnes of space in the back seat for me, too

 

Cons:
– While the new MQB platform has allowed VW to bring in some better safety tech like adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist, it’s a $1,000 option. That seems a little chintzy given the Toyota Corolla includes these features as standard on all trims and it starts just over $16,000
– That’s one big Achilles heel for this car. It’s certainly not the value choice in the compact sedan segment with all of its big competitors starting at far lower price points
– The 1.4-litre engine is the same on all trims of the Jetta. It cranks out 147 horsepower and is certainly adequate for cruising in the city or on the highway. But bury your foot off the line and there’s some healthy turbo lag at play
– While the new 8 speed automatic is really pleasant, there are no paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Since this car is eager in the corners, that would be a nice touch
– And while this new MQB platform is a real star for making the car stiffer, stronger and more composed, the steering feel makes it tough to really appreciate it. It’s rather numb and detached feeling
– Trunk space isn’t walking away with the lead spot in the class. It has 399 litres of capacity – which is a bit bigger than the Corolla or the Mazda3 but is edged out by the Civic and Elantra
– And here’s something a little annoying about the trunk… if you don’t fully lift the trunk lid, it comes clunking down on your head all the time! Watch the video to see what I mean

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4.5/5 (62 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 39/50= 78%

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