Often called a Volkswagen Golf trunk for its exhilarating handling, the front-wheel-drive Jetta sedan is one of the best compacts on sale today. It is also in good company as it stands up well against new and more powerful competition such as Honda Civic or Mazda 3, which offers all-wheel drive. The Jetta has snappy handling that makes leaning on its 158-horsepower turbocharged inline-four engine fun. For more power and performance, turn to 228-horsepower Jetta GLI, is considered separately. While a six-speed manual transmission is standard, the Jetta can also be equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission for a few hundred dollars extra. Standard safety features and a host of excellent infotainment offerings fill the Jetta’s cabin, and we’d be remiss to point out that the last Jetta we tested posted an impressive 42 mpg during our real-world 75 mph highway fuel economy test.
What’s new in 2023?
Although the Volkswagen Jetta was updated last year, 2023 brings only minor cosmetic changes, along with the addition of remote ignition for the SE trim.
Pricing and which one to buy
The Sport trim level feels like a Jetta with lots of unique design elements and not too much of a price tag. Standard equipment on the Sport includes unique 17-inch wheels, black exterior and interior accents, and an electronic locking front differential for improved performance over the rest of the lineup.
Engine, transmission and performance
Every Jetta drives the front wheels with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The base model has a standard six-speed manual transmission, but an eight-speed automatic is optional. Our SEL automatic test car reached our test track 60 mph in 7.1 secondswhich is 0.6 seconds faster than the last automatic Jetta we tested. While the sedan offers a comfortable and quiet ride, its light steering is light but lacks a sense of precision. Compared to rivals such as Mazda 3, the Jetta isn’t a circuitous race car, but it leans into sharp corners when going above the speed limit. However, its serene nature will satisfy those who want a complacent transport.
Fuel economy and real mpg
The VW Jetta beat EPA estimates during our 75 mph fuel economy route, getting an impressive 42 mpg. While the EPA ratings for new Jettas with six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions vary slightly, the base automatic transmission is the most efficient with about 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Three-pedal Jettas are rated at 29 mpg and 42 mpg on the highway. Jetta Sport, SE, and SEL trims get slightly lower ratings due to equipment differences, with an EPA rating of 29 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg during highway cruising. For more information on the Jetta’s fuel economy, visit EPA website.
Interior, comfort and cargo
Inside, the Jetta provides a refined design and ample passenger space. While available features become more desirable with each higher trim level, each cabin caters to the driver and boasts excellent outward visibility. The best content, such as customizable interior lighting, wireless device charging and ventilated front seats, are reserved for the most expensive models. Surprisingly, the Jetta had more carry-on luggage than the regular Golf hatchback. There were seven bags in the sedan’s trunk, compared to the five that fit behind the Golf’s back seat. Likewise, the Jetta had three more extra bags than the Golf (18 total) with the rear seats folded down. The Jetta’s interior storage includes useful door pockets and a deep center console bin.
Infotainment system and communication
Every Jetta has an adaptive touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Along with the traditional volume and adjustment knobs, the Car-Net unit allows for swipe and zoom gestures. Likewise, every Jetta has a mobile hotspot if people are willing to pay for a subscription-based plan. Wireless charging is standard on the top two trims.
Safety features and driver assistance
Even the entry-level Jetta comes with a few standard driver assistance technology, and upgraded equipment such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist are available. For more information on the Jetta’s crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Road Safety (IIHS) websites. Key security features include:
- Standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control with Stop-and-Go technology is available
Warranty and maintenance
Volkswagen has an above-average limited warranty and below-average transmission coverage. To compensate for the latter, the company provides free maintenance.
- The limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- The transmission is covered by a four-year or 50,000-mile warranty
- Free maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles
Volkswagen Jetta 2022 SEL
Vehicle Type: Front Engine, Front Wheel Drive, 5 Passenger, 4 Door Sedan
Base/As Tested: $29,090 / $29,090
turbocharged intercooled DOHC, 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 91 inches31498 cm3
Power: 158 horsepower at 5500 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
Suspension, front/rear: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, front/rear: 11.3-inch ventilated disc/10.7-inch disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza LS100
205/55R-17 91H M+S
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Length: 186.5 inches
Width: 70.8 inches
Height: 57.7 inches
Passenger volume: 94 feet3
Trunk volume: 14 feet3
Curb weight: 3,131 lbs
C/D EXAMINATION RESULTS
60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4 mile: 15.5 seconds at 91 mph
100 mph: 19.2 sec
The results above are omitted 1 foot deployment 0.3 sec.
Start from 5 to 60 mph: 7.6 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.1 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.4 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 126 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 189 feet
Road resistance, 300-foot pad: 0.81g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 27 mpg
Highway driving at 75 mph: 42 mpg
Highway distance: 550 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 33/29/40 mpg