The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta debuted earlier this year at the Chicago Auto Show. This seventh-generation model replaces a fine but generally underwhelming car that lost much of the premium feel that made the Jetta such a strong car in the past.
Our tester was a mid-grade R-Line. Currently, the only available engine is a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four. We’re crossing our fingers for a new GLI performance model sometime soon.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore — The latest version of the Jetta feels like an Audi-lite. Dressed in R-Line trim and a snazzy shade of red paint, this tester certainly could pass for something from Ingolstadt. Under the skin, the Jetta has a solid chassis and a peppy 1.4-liter turbo-four. Dynamically, my only beef is with the steering, which feels overly light.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder — When I sat in the Jetta on the Detroit auto show floor, I was unimpressed. I’m not a huge fan of the new looks — the grille, the excessive hood creases, the interior full of odd, angular shapes. But actually spending time in it on the road, it quickly grew on me.
I enjoy the behavior of the 1.4-liter turbo, too. I’m especially fond of the power it summons once the turbo spools up, which I find helpful passing fools on the highway.
On the drive home, I took it through some sweeping turns. I was impressed with its poise as I held or built speed. The body seemed to set itself as I dialed in more steering angle — it reminded me of the 2018 Mazda6’s early-to-mid-corner behavior. When I gave it a little gas, the nose wanted to lift a bit, but the lateral stability remained. I noticed the same, with pleasure, as I took tighter corners with a little gusto.
As I noted with the Golf Alltrack, I like the way Volkswagen steering wheels feel in my hand, and the Jetta is no different. It’s got a nice shape and weight to it. The steering feel is a bit numb on center, but imparts more road feel (and resistance) as you dial in more angle.
After all that, I looked at the price. Just less than $24,000. I have to say that seemed like a nice price for this car. As much as some of the looks weren’t my thing (though less not-so after some staring), the sense of quality is there. It certainly feels updated — and the Jetta was a car that really needed it. I think I like this car.