Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Review & Ratings | Edmunds

Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Review

2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan

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Edmunds Summary Review of the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan

  • C Edmunds Rating
  • The 2013 Volkswagen GLI is the sportiest member of the Jetta sedan family, and although it's enjoyable within that context, buyers looking for true performance will be better served by rivals, including VW's own GTI.

  • Pros

    Lively, fuel-efficient turbo engine; spacious cabin; well-equipped; comfortable ride.

  • Cons

    Competitors are quicker and handle better.

  • What's New for 2013

    For 2013, Jetta GLI models equipped with the automated transmission (DSG) feature launch control. A rearview camera and bi-xenon headlights are added to Autobahn models with the optional navigation system. An adjustable armrest is also new this year.

Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan

What's New for 2013

For 2013, Jetta GLI models equipped with the automated transmission (DSG) feature launch control. A rearview camera and bi-xenon headlights are added to Autobahn models with the optional navigation system. An adjustable armrest is also new this year.


Eventually we'll stop comparing the VW GLI to its hatchback cousin, the GTI. But we can't help it. Not that long ago, the GLI sedan rose from the same platform as the GTI hatchback as a more practical car, but no less sporting. That era ended two years ago with the arrival of the redesigned Jetta, which grew in size while dropping in price to appeal to a wider audience. Although the 2013 Volkswagen GLI remains the sportier, performance-oriented Jetta, it isn't as entertaining to drive as its predecessor was, nor does it have the same premium feel on the inside.

Compared to the base Jetta, the GLI uses a more sophisticated rear suspension design and an upgraded steering system. And inside, it features a sporty, thick-rimmed steering wheel and higher-quality dash material. Plus, it still shares its turbocharged 200-horsepower engine with the GTI. This engine is as energetic and fuel-efficient as ever, and Volkswagen continues to offer it with either a conventional six-speed manual or the DSG six-speed automated manual transmission. A honeycomb grille, red brake calipers, darkened taillights and chrome exterior trim complete the GLI's sleeper sport sedan look.

For 2013, the GLI carries over largely unchanged from its return last year. Opting for the Autobahn model with navigation also nets you a rearview camera and bi-xenon headlights, while the DSG transmission-equipped models get launch control for speedier getaways from stoplights. And perhaps Volkswagen has heard some grumbling with elements of its Jetta redesign, as an adjustable armrest -- a minor, useful feature that disappeared from the new Jetta -- makes a return appearance in the GLI.

The 2013 Volkswagen GLI is certainly more appealing than a plain vanilla Jetta. It's also a fairly rare style of car -- the only other sporty small sedans with similar power are the 2012 Honda Civic Si and 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX. In this group, the GLI is a respectable choice, mainly because of its roomy interior and turbocharged yet efficient engine. But if you expand your search criteria a little, you'll find there are other, more appealing sporting models out there, including the Volkswagen GTI four-door and the new Ford Focus ST. And if you're just looking for a sedan with lively acceleration, the turbocharged Kia Optima or V6-powered Nissan Altima are good alternatives, too.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Volkswagen GLI is a four-door compact sedan available in 2.0T and Autobahn trim levels.

Standard equipment on the GLI 2.0T includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, keyless entry, air-conditioning, full power accessories, heated mirrors, height-adjustable and power-reclining front sport seats with cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a touchscreen interface, satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface.

The GLI Autobahn adds 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, automatic climate control, a cooling glovebox, heated front seats, leatherette vinyl upholstery and a premium nine-speaker Fender audio system. A touchscreen navigation system with rearview camera, bi-xenon headlights with Audi-like LED accent lights, and keyless ignition/entry can be added to the Autobahn.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2013 GLI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. A six-speed manual is standard, while a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual, known as DSG, is optional.

In Edmunds performance testing, a GLI with the manual gearbox sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. That time is a little slow for its class. This year's DSG comes with a launch-control mode, but it will only make a minimal difference to on-paper 0-60 acceleration; in prior testing without launch control, a DSG-equipped GLI went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds as well.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the manual and 23/29/25 with DSG.


Every 2013 Volkswagen GLI comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (now driver-defeatable), front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the GLI stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet -- below average for a compact sedan, especially one with sporting pretenses.

In government crash tests, the near-identical Jetta earned an overall score of four stars out of a possible five. Within that rating, it earned four stars for overall front crash protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Jetta its best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2013 Jetta GLI's interior is pleasant enough, largely due to the upgrades over the regular Jetta, including some higher quality materials. It's also pretty roomy -- the rear-seat area is large enough for full-size adults to sit comfortably. The 15.5-cubic-foot trunk is also one of the roomiest you'll find in this class. Should you need more cargo space, the split rear seat features a center pass-through and also folds down.

We like the available touchscreen stereo interface and its redundant dial knob, which is ideal for controlling a portable music player. The associated navigation system, however, is a bit of a letdown due to the small screen and limited amount of display information.

Driving Impressions

You'll largely need to check your sport sedan aspirations when driving the 2013 Volkswagen GLI. The GLI's steering isn't particularly sharp when turning into corners, while braking ability and overall cornering grip are both quite modest. If, however, you're simply looking for a livelier Jetta, then the GLI is a solid upgrade. The rear suspension features a more sophisticated multilink design than the base Jetta, so this car is better able to deal with bumps.

The 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers a nice wallop of torque and cool, snarling noises, especially when paired with the six-speed manual, which is direct and remarkably easy to drive even when stuck in traffic. The VW GLI also offers a hill-hold feature on the manual. In general, the GLI feels more than peppy enough around town and on fast-moving freeways thanks to its broad power band.

As for choosing a transmission, the DSG is quirky and less desirable, with an annoying delay in throttle response in its default D mode. Switch to Sport mode and it's overly eager to downshift and wring out revs. Using the DSG's manual shift mode mitigates both issues somewhat, but neither of these features is intended to be used in normal traffic situations where the DSG-equipped GLI remains tricky to drive smoothly. If you can deal with a regular manual transmission, it's actually the more livable of the two transmission options on the 2013 Volkswagen GLI.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Average Consumer Rating (See all 13 reviews) Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Not sure what car edmunds reviewed

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

My previous cars were WRX STI 2012, WRX 2011, Toyota Matrix 2006, Honda Civic Si 1998 with a couple Trucks thrown in. The GLI has by far been the best car I've owned. Going on 36K miles right now it has been reliable, comfortable, and fun. Coming from the Subaru WRX/STI world I obviously wanted a car with some pep, but mainly was looking for a car that didn't beat the daylights out of me driving around town. Bingo! To me, the performance is very similar to the standard WRX but the ride is infinitely better than both the WRX and STI. The cabin is nice with ample room. Trunk is out of this world. Stock Dunlop tires were garbage. Swapped with Bridgestone Potenza and it's night and day.

So far so good

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Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn PZEV 4dr Sedan w/Navigation, Prod. End 5/13 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I've really enjoyed this car for the last 2 years. I commute roughly 75 miles round trip for work, and almost have 30k miles on my car already. I've had no mechanical issues, but a bad door latch was replaced under warranty on the driver door at about 25k. I average about 31-32.5 mpg on a per tank basis depending on driving conditions for the week. The cold winters here in central NY are what cause the lower mpg numbers. I have averaged up to 35 or slightly better mpg on pure highway driving in good weather. City driving average mpg is usually around 27-28 mpg. Overall I'm pleased after almost 2 years of driving.

Good power (not not gti)

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Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI PZEV 4dr Sedan w/Prod. End 5/13 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)

I have had GTI (2000) and Passat (2001). This is my 3rd VW, and first one made in Mexico. This car has a lot of room. Trunk is huge. Engine has good power. DSG is love/hate. If you don't drive in commute traffic, you will love it. If you have a lot of stop/go, then DSG sucks. I manage to get 25mpg. It is not good for commute use, I sold it after 20 months with 19K.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful

What car were the edmunds people driving???

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

I have no idea what car the people at Edmunds were driving, but they are either insane or on the take. I have had my GLI for about 30 months, and I absolutely love it, and my only complaints are about some missing features (which are on the new cars, except for rain sensing wipers). Edmunds suggests that you consider other cars. Really? What, pray tell, can you buy LOADED for under 30K, that feels like a tight German sedan with a MANUAL tranny? The answer is NOTHING. For perspective, here are the cars in my past 1985 GTI, 1990 Corrado, BMW 330i, 2007 Audi A3, 1994 Porsche 911 Carrera and a sprinkling of SUV's. I sold my 911 because, frankly, the Audi was just more fun to drive and less

12k miles so far

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Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

Hard to find a manual transmission in a practical, affordable and sporty car these days. After 12k miles I'm still having a great time driving it, lots of fun to step on the gas and take it through the mtns. Actually a pretty big car inside and the trunk is huge. Not the fastest out there but for the price it can't be beat. Only been in for included scheduled maintenance, no squeaks or rattles and nothing annoying me yet. Seats are very comfortable even driving 800 miles in one day. Looks more grown up than most similar cars (civic si, focus st, mazdaspeed3) and flies under the radar for the most part. Torque really pulls you in second gear, thanks to vw for making an audi a4 I can afford!

Great pick

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn 4dr Sedan w/Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

This is my thirteenth car ranging from an E-class to Suzuki Sidekick. With 1000 miles on my car to date, this is a great blend of fun, business and comfort. I need something able to accommodate 4 adults comfortable for work at times, capable of being fast and agile, and relaxing when I want to chill out. It offers all of that. The nav system could be better if it offered traffic alerts, but with all other amenities, I can live without it. For those who say it is not fast, I would recommend trying the manual. I have no issues at all with great German handling and speed in all gears.

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Gas Mileage


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  • cty
  • 33
  • highway
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan in VA is:

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