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2025 Volkswagen Jetta and Jetta GLI First Look: Improved, But Is It Enough?

Style on a budget

2025 Volkswagen Jetta and Jetta GLI group
  • The Jetta and Jetta GLI are refreshed for 2025, highlighted by a more upscale, though more anonymous, exterior.
  • Cabin is upgraded with new seat designs and additional upholstery color choices.
  • Engines remain the same, but you can no longer get the standard Jetta with a manual.
  • Additional features are sprinkled throughout the trim range.

The current Volkswagen Jetta has been on sale since 2019. and after six years, most automakers would debut a brand-new model to keep up with competitors. But with interest in traditional cars waning relative to that of SUVs, some manufacturers are introducing a second wave of updates to a vehicle line in lieu of a full redesign. That's the case with the 2025 Volkswagen Jetta and its performance-oriented Jetta GLI variant. For 2025, VW's only sedan comes with new bumper and grille designs, which make it look a little more anonymous but also less ungainly. The Jetta also receives new front and rear light bars and a host of revisions inside. It might not have the new car smell of recently redesigned rivals like the Honda Civic or Kia K4, but the enhancements attempt to keep the Jetta from feeling stale.

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2025 Volkswagen Jetta interior

The 2025 changes are apparent from the moment you step into the cabin. An 8-inch touchscreen is now standard on all trims (it was previously reserved for the expensive SEL and GLI trims), and it sports a floating design this year, rather than the integrated look of last year's Jetta. The knobs and buttons for the climate controls are replaced by a capacitive touch panel; while we don't love the approach, it's more usable than some other VW applications. It has grooves to help place your fingers without looking at the panel and backlighting for easy nighttime operation.

VW is also sprucing up the upholstery options across the range. Jetta Sport models bring the fractured design on the seats of last year's Jetta GLI 40th Anniversary Edition to a more attainable price point, while the midtier Jetta SE gets a new synthetic leather called Microcloud that is said to have a softer, velour-like texture. A pair of two-tone upholsteries is available: gray/black and blue/gray. The Jetta SEL continues with leather seating, with new gray or brown inserts for a more upscale look. The GLI uses a gray and black motif for its leather upholstery, with contrasting red stitching for a sporty flair.

2025 Volkswagen Jetta GLI front

The Jetta soldiers on without any meaningful changes under the hood, with one exception: The standard models are no longer available with a six-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged 1.5-liter paired with the previously optional eight-speed auto is the sole powertrain configuration. Thankfully, VW is offering a mea culpa for axing the manual by lowering the starting price compared to last year's automatic. The 2025 Volkswagen Jetta starts at $23,295 (including the $1,300 destination charge), while the 2024 auto carried a base MSRP of $23,460. Fans of row-your-own gearboxes can still spec the six-speed manual — or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic — in the Jetta GLI, making it the only Volkswagen with an available manual (the MT is sacrificed for the 2025 refresh of the Golf GTI and Golf R). Also on the value front are a handful of features, like satellite radio and wireless smartphone compatibility, that make their way down from the top-spec Jetta SEL to the SE.

2025 Volkswagen Jetta profile

Edmunds says

The 2025 Volkswagen Jetta and Jetta GLI look more premium in this refresh, and we like that some features are coming to more budget-friendly trim levels. It undeniably offers strong value, but we're not sure if the changes are enough to unseat A-tier rivals like the Civic or Mazda 3.