2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium Sedan (1.4L 4-cyl. Turbo Hybrid 7-speed Automated Manual)
Driven On 12/7/2013
A premium fuel requirement and a relatively high price result in the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid not saving you much money despite its commendable observed fuel economy. The fact that the cheaper Jetta TDI will come close to its efficiency is another issue. Still, this new Jetta is more engaging and natural to drive than most hybrids.
PerformanceThe Jetta Hybrid's unique powertrain -- a 1.4-liter turbo-4, dual-clutch automanual and an electric motor -- is responsive and energetic like no other hybrid sedan. The brakes and decent handling further contribute to this being a more engaging hybrid.
The turbo engine and electric motor provide a solid one-two torque punch, making for energetic acceleration and highway passing. Hills are no sweat. Zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds is quick for a hybrid.
The brake pedal has a more natural feel and action than the regular Jetta and other hybrids. Its 60-0 panic stop in 117 feet is among the best in the segment.
The steering has an elastic-band quality. It feels numb with dead play at center, then the effort weights up as you turn in. This is an okay setup on the highway, but it needs more response and feedback.
Grip (0.82g on the skidpad) and pace on mountain roads are acceptable, but there's a general lack of feedback. Compared to a Toyota Prius, though, it feels like a hot hatch.
The brake pedal, throttle response and engine behavior create a hybrid that doesn't draw excessive attention to its hybrid-ness. Feels more like a normal car.
ComfortThe Jetta's mediocre damping on choppy pavement made it less comfortable than expected. The seats are excellent, but this isn't the cushy all-day road trip car you might expect it to be. Bigger hybrid sedans are more comfortable.
The firm and supportive seats hold up better on lengthy drives than many other compact sedans. Space is plentiful front and back. The driver's seat has power recline, but all other directions are manual.
We found the ride overly firm and borderline rough at times, especially on rough sections of highway. It lacks the well-damped feel you expect from a German-tuned sedan.
A turbocharged engine is far more pleasing to the ears than most other hybrid engines. There are fewer electric whirring noises, too. Less wind and road noise than a Prius, more than a Fusion Hybrid.
InteriorThe Jetta's cabin is large for a compact sedan, but its price point puts the Jetta in line with bigger, more family-friendly hybrids. As such, its back seat and trunk are a little less useful. The electronics interface is also less advanced.
Touchscreen with redundant knob and buttons work well, but screen is tiny and navigation rudimentary. The small rearview camera can be tough to see. Hybrid-specific power gauge is nonsensical.
With its sizeable interior proportions and big doors, this is an easy compact sedan to get in and out of. Squared-off roofline means fewer clunked heads for rear passengers.
The Jetta is nearly a midsize car, as a pair of 6-footers can sit front-to-back. Headroom is plentiful. It's a better family car than other compacts, but smaller than the hybrids it competes against.
Big windows, thin pillars and square roofline create good visibility. A rearview camera comes standard on SEL models, but display is tiny. Low-sheen dash doesn't suffer from reflections like normal Jetta.
Trunk is much smaller than the regular Jetta's, and less useful than a Toyota Prius. Rear 60/40 split-folding seat at least sets it apart from other hybrid sedans. Can handle golf clubs.
ValueThe Jetta Hybrid is about $2,000 cheaper than other comparably-equipped hybrid sedans. It feels even cheaper, though. Furthermore, the availability of the less expensive and nearly as efficient TDI model makes it a questionable value purchase.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The Jetta's materials are average at best. Richer than a Prius or regular Jetta, but other hybrid sedans are a clear step above. The vinyl seats breathe well and resist stains.
Jetta Hybrid SE includes cruise control, leatherette, an iPod interface, Bluetooth phone/audio and push-button start. Heated seats, sunroof, rearview camera, premium audio are optional.
The Jetta Hybrid SE starts at $28,080, with our loaded SEL Premium test car at $32,265. These prices are too close to bigger, more refined and equally equipped hybrids. The Jetta TDI is also cheaper.
We achieved 43 mpg over 735 miles of fuel economy testing, with 47.3 mpg in suburban driving and 47.7 mpg on the highway. Premium fuel requirement wipes out any advantage it has against competitors.
The Jetta Hybrid comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty. The drivetrain is covered for 5 years/60,000 miles.
Roadside assistance is covered for 3 years/36,000 miles, plus it has a 2-year free scheduled maintenance program. We had a long-term Jetta test car of this generation, and it was largely trouble free.
Fun To DriveAs far as hybrids go, the Jetta is quite fun. Its responsive turbocharged engine provides a degree of engagement no other hybrid can match, while its relatively compact proportions make it feel like a slot car amongst sloths.
Though relatively mundane in its regular form, the Jetta Hybrid feels far more athletic when put up against other hybrids. You're more likely to remember the experience.
Though the Jetta Hybrid is more involving to drive, hybrid owners often look for distinctive styling and quasi-futuristic interiors. The Jetta Hybrid offers little more than a normal Jetta.