2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review
Which Jetta GLI does Edmunds recommend?
Unless you have your heart set on the base-level S, we'd recommend the top-of-the-line Autobahn trim for its wealth of extra features for only a few thousand dollars more. You get a panoramic sunroof, a digital instrument panel, and heated and ventilated leather seating as well as an 8-inch touchscreen.
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Genuine GTI performance hardware in a Jetta body
- Plenty of interior storage
- Premium BeatsAudio system is excellent
- Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
- Cabin feels a bit plasticky compared to others in the class
- Adaptive suspension only available on the 35th Anniversary trim
- Not enough USB ports
- Fully redesigned
- More powerful engine and new transmissions
- More in-car and safety tech
- Part of the seventh Jetta generation introduced for 2019
This Jetta is about as close to a GTI as you can get without actually buying one. The engine has a satisfying amount of power at almost any rpm, and either transmission makes easy work of city traffic or a great back road. The brakes and suspension can keep up as well, making the GLI quite the well-rounded sedan.
VW has struck a very good balance with the GLI's ride quality. You've got compliance and control, seemingly without sacrificing one or the other. The engine note is subdued but livens up when you select Sport mode. The front seats are comfortable but lack the lateral support we expect from a sport sedan.
Instantly recognizable as a VW, even with the optional digital dashboard, the GLI's cabin feels immediately comfortable. The shape and design of the steering wheel and driving position are both befitting a sport sedan. Visibility is good and typical for a sedan. On the downside, the excess of hard plastic interior panels cheapens the experience.
The Jetta GLI has one of the larger trunks in the small-sedan class. The rear seats are split 60/40 and can be folded to enhance utility. Interior storage for your personal items is ample and includes storage under the armrest and in front of the shifter. The hard plastic door bins are generously sized.
Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto work well enough with the 6.5-inch touchscreen, but the optional 8-inch unit is the one to have. The digital instrument panel is also pretty sharp and adds welcome sophistication to the interior. The optional BeatsAudio system sounds great.
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Most helpful consumer reviews
35th Anniversary Edition 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
I bought this as a 2nd family car in case I need to haul my 3 kids. It has plenty of room for them. I'm 6'2 and I can fit in the backseat without rubbing my head on the roof. I like it because of the fun factor. It handles great and has plenty of power to get you in and out of traffic. The acceleration isn't bad. Cabin noise is minimal but you do notice when you're going around 60 with the radio off. The interior is not bad but it could be better. It is a bit plasticky. The instrument cluster is kind of bland. If you can afford it get the autobahn edition, it has the virtual cockpit. I got the 35th anniversary edition because of the transmission. I do like the android auto and the voice control commands. One thing I have against it is the front seat isn't that comfortable. Not sure I would want to take a long trip in it. The ride quality is pretty good, better than the mustang I had. I use premium non-ethanol gas and I'm averaging 28 mpg which is mostly in town. Took it on a 2 hour trip, all interstate and was averaging 38 mpg in comfort mode. One big selling point was the 6 year/72,000 mile warranty and oil changes every 10k miles or once per year whichever comes first. Anyway, if you're a good negotiator you can get a new one for 24k, maybe less. Test drive a few of the competitors. If you want to drive what everyone else does get a Honda or Toyota but if you want to stand out get the Jetta GLI. Update 5/14/20 - As of this post, I've had the car 9 months. I've put 5400 miles on it. No problems to report. Just had an oil change. I did notice the oil was about a quart low before I took it in. This is normal for new engines as they tend to burn a little oil when they're being broken in. Anyway, the car is still fine. The handling is nice, acceleration is good, infotainment is great when paired with android auto. One major concern, for me at least, is the resale value. Not much I can do about that. Also, just want to add that I typically drive less than 9k miles per year. I use the car for short commutes, errands and the occasional trip out of town. Would I buy the car again? Probably not. I don't hate the car but I'm not in love with it either. Hindsight is 20/20 and no one can predict the future. With this pandemic going on and working from home, I would have just kept my old car. Trading the car in now makes little financial sense as I would lose $5k or $6k. And since we're not driving much, there's no point in getting something else. 10/12/20 - I've had the car for over a year now and it has 6800 miles on it. Nothing new to report really. Car is still running great. Occasionally I've had people compliment the car and ask questions, which is kinda surprising. It's not a bad looking ride, I think the roof could be a little more sloped in the back to give it a more sporty look. Anyway, I'll probably keep the car until the warranty runs out lol
35th Anniversary Edition 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
Easy to live with, good mpg, suspension DCC upgrade from Audi gives you a range of different driving modes that dramatically change from comfort to sport mode. Design inside and out is very minimalist but also gorgeous lines mistaking people that take it for an Audi. New generation has more leg room in the front and back seat than previous generation. Has great safety and entertainment features. Apple car play...etc... It also has launch control mode when you want to launch the car... The rims and blacked out rims, roof, mirror caps, and spoiler is gorgeous. Great sports car for the money.
Cliff in Nashville,12/06/2019
S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
I love this car. I've been driving it for 4 months now, and I still get that new car buzz when I take off. Roomy (for a small sedan) and uncluttered cabin with nice tech touches. Sporty and nimble as hell performance. Quick acceleration and smooth ride, even at higher speeds. Almost a GTI in those regards. Looks like a serious, sophisticated sedan in the European tradition, but with just a hint of American muscle-car-style flair. A wolf in sheep's clothing. UPDATE: 15 months in and I still love this car.
S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
At 25-29k this vehicle serves as an affordable and responsible family car that can also serve as a sporty daily driver. All new for 2019 on a better chassis, better suspension and handling hardware, upgraded disk brakes, and increased horse power and torque in the 2.0 turbo, this Jetta GLI S, has just the right amount of everything for the price; passenger space, cargo capacity, horse power, manuvering, MPGs. I opted for the 6 speed manual and am enjoying it with better than reported MPGs. This vehicle has a satisfying, yet not overwhelming amount of tech and safety features. My GLI S base model has cloth seats and frankly after two leather seat vehicles, I dont miss the leather or sport bolsters as with these cloth seats I don't slide on the curvy mountain our roads I commute daily. Many reviews complain about some harder plastic surfaces, but I see an elegant, just enough interior design with a classy VW look to it, that will be easy to maintain. The trunk shelf is too reflective and shows in rear window sometimes however. When comparing this with other cars one has to be careful that the comparisons are fair by remembering the price, it's tempting to compare it to mid sized sedans or luxury cars because it offers as much in many ways. I need a car that can excellerate well uphill to merge onto mountain interstates this GLI does it well. The steering and handling are nice and crisp and can be tweaked with several drive modes including a user defined custom setting. Not a gutless wonder by any means however with proper technique this car can be responsibly green (or blue), and includes a feedback display to help increase/optimize MPGs, a nice feature in a car that can carry five comfortably with luggage. The Cargo Mat system is wonderful. My 2011 Tiguan has it and so does this GLI. My groceries don't get flung about and take home boxes arrive home well. Flower pots and arrangements as well as tool boxes and such are all orderly passengers with the cargo mat and dividers. The exterior styling to my eyes is a bit more mature and sophisticated than the competition, many of which appear to be marketed to teenagers, yet at the same time the styling is modern and assertive. This is especially apparent in the hood and grills as well as the lines that make their way to the rear. The LED head lamps are wonderful. If you want even more look at the middle and upper trim levels which offer many more luxuries for not much more cost making then great values as well.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the Jetta GLI models:
- Blind-Spot Warning System
- Alerts you with visual and audible warnings if another vehicle is in your blind spot.
- Post-Collision Braking System
- Applies the brakes once the airbags go off to reduce the possibility of further damage during an accident.
- Forward Collision Warning
- Sounds an alert when a front collision is imminent and can automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn't react in time