2019 VW Jetta Review: Grows in Size, Shrinks in Price

The redesigned 2019 Volkswagen Jetta made some favorable impressions after its debut at the 2018 North American Auto Show in Detroit. Not only was it chosen as a platform for a Bonneville speed record attempt, the consummate compact sedan was named to Wards 10 Best UX list, selected as a finalist for Green Car Journal’s 2019 Green Car of the Year award, and turned a few heads at the SEMA Show when three tuners chose to showcase their parts and creativity using the new Jetta.

2019 vw jetta sel sedan
2019 VW Jetta SEL

What’s New for 2019

  • New seventh generation Jetta built on VW’s MQB architecture
  • Exterior design features shorter overhangs and a bolder front fascia
  • A driver-centric interior design that uses more premium materials
  • 1.4-liter TSI engine available with six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions
  • 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, App-Connect and full LED lighting are standard
  • Available driver-assist technology includes: front collision warning, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and light assist
  • Available select features include VW Digital Cockpit, 10-color ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated leather seats, and 400-watt BeatsAudio® system
  • The six year/72,000-mile (whichever comes first) People First Warranty coverage
  • Starting MSRP of $18,545, which is less than the outgoing model
2019 vw jetta sel sedan
2019 VW Jetta SEL

Growing Up in Size

The new Jetta grows dimensionally in every direction. It offers a longer wheelbase—105.7 inches compared to 104.4 inches—with shorter overhangs, and is longer, wider and taller than the previous generation model. You would think the stretched exterior equates to more interior space but overall passenger volume measured at 94.7 cubic feet, which is less than the Civic, Corolla, Elantra, and Forte.

Thankfully, real-life fitting of live bodies says otherwise. It turns out that a pair of six-foot individuals seated in the back seat won’t have their knees tucked under the chin.

Did the Jetta’s boot get bigger? Just the opposite. The trunk has 14.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity compared to the previous-gen model that offered 15.7 cubic feet. This downsizing also came up short when compared to its class competitors.

Year Model (sedan) Passenger Volume ft3 Trunk Space ft3
2019 Jetta 94.7 14.1
2019 Civic 97.8 15.1
2019 Corolla 97.5 13.0
2019 Cruze 94.0 13.9 – 14.8
2019 Elantra 95.8 14.4
2019 Forte 96.0 15.3
2019 Versa 94.1 18.8

Cabin Effects

The redesigned cabin isn’t spacious in comparison to its outer dimensions but redeems itself with a nicely upgraded cabin and a slew of new technology and safety components. For example, the Driver-Assistance Package that brings forward-collision warning and mitigation along with blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic alerts.

The Jetta SEL and SEL Premium models feature a standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display descended from its Audi cousins. The reconfigurable display provides drivers with essential data and the ability to position navigation data in front of your nose for easy viewing.

The available Volkswagen Car-Net system provides a suite of connected vehicle services, including standard App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. 

Not be overlooked, the new Jetta is the first Volkswagen in the U.S. to offer an available 400-watt BeatsAudio system. Sound quality is a significant step up from the Fender Audio system presented in the A6 Jetta. The audio stage was great with a nice open sound and enough bass to satisfy most listeners. Turn up the volume and the system played loud with greater ease than the standard Bose systems found in my cars today.

More MPG, Less Zip

Under the hood lies VW’s 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine that delivers 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. Standard is a six-speed manual transmission in the entry-level S trim. The eight-speed automatic is standard equipment on the SE trims and higher. Overall EPA fuel economy rings in at 34 mpg. Driven at safe and sane speeds on the freeway, the new Jetta thriftily sips gas to achieve 40 mpg.

Combined with improvements in chassis structure and rigidity, the Mk7 Jetta behaves better on the road. Acceleration feels sedated but body roll is well controlled, and it does a fair job of soaking up bumps and rough pavement. All-around visibility is what you would expect from a compact sedan, with cabin noise and vibration muted to a pleasant German high standard.

TFLcar’s Take

VW did an admirable job of making the seventh-generation Jetta into something that may soothe your daily drive. The redesigned 2019 model looks better, drives with sharpened skills, sports a nicely appointed cabin, has a fair amount of tech and safety features, and gets excellent fuel economy. Overall, it’s still on the bland side but is worth considering if you’re in the market for a small sedan and want to have some change left over for other fun things in life.

The roster of available trim levels for the 2019 VW Jetta include S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. An R-Line appearance package is also available at launch time and features bold styling accents, exclusive interior and exterior design elements, R-Line badging, and XDS electronic differential.

If a 1.4-liter engine is not enough, there’s also a more powerful Jetta GLI coming soon.

2019 vw jetta sel sedan
2019 VW Jetta SEL

2019 VW Jetta MSRP

Trim Level 6-Speed Manual 8-Speed Automatic
Jetta S $18,745 $19,545
Jetta SEL   $22,395
Jetta R-Line   $23,245
Jetta SEL   $24,695
Jetta SEL Premium   $27,695

**$895 destination charge applies to all models

2019 VW Jetta Specs

Engine1.4L turbocharged I-4 cylinder
Horsepower @ rpm147 @ 5000
Maximum torque, lb-ft @ rpm184 @ 1400
Drivetrain Layoutfront-wheel drive
Transmission6-sp manual or 8-sp automatic
Fuel Economy34 mpg (combined)
Wheelbase105.7 in.
Length x Width x Height185.1 x 70.8 x 57.4 in.
Ground Clearance5.6 in.
Front SuspensionStrut-type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear SuspensionTorsion beam, coil springs, telescopic dampers
Curb Weight (manual / automatic)2888 / 2970 lbs.