1999 Volkswagen Jetta Review


Pros & Cons

  • Fun to drive, comfortable ride, available VR6, solid construction, rich interior materials, lots of standard features, generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
  • Some controls hard to decipher, CD player should be standard, expensive compared with other compact sedans.
List Price Estimate
$650 - $1,655

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Vehicle overview

The Jetta, Volkswagen's sedan version of the Golf, has always been one of our favorites. Like many cars conceived in Germany, the Jetta possesses an uncanny ability to keep the driver in touch with every undulation and irregularity on the road without sacrificing comfort. Introduced in 1993, the chunky third-generation Jetta has earned quite a following among consumers who like to drive and enjoy the Jetta's roomy, user-friendly cabin accommodations. However, this Jetta is now in its sixth year of production, so Volkswagen has seen fit to introduce a completely redesigned fourth-generation sedan halfway through the model year.

Both generations will be sold as 1999 models, but the new version is easily the better choice. Advantages include greater structural rigidity, which yields tighter body panel fits and improved handling characteristics; engine, suspension and brake upgrades; more standard equipment and a more stylish interior (replete with VW's signature blue and red backlighting at night) with more comfortable seats.

The base engine for both Jettas is a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four, but a new cross-flow cylinder head in the redesigned hatchback allows drivers to access the engine's horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque lower in the rpm range. You can choose either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, though fuel economy is nothing to write home about with either transmission (24 mpg city/31 mpg highway versus 22/28). Still, we'd encourage you to go with the manual gearbox if possible, so that you can make the most of what little power the base four has. Long-distance commuters will want to check out the available 1.9-liter turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel four-cylinder, which is rated at 42/49 with a manual and 34/45 with an automatic. Although the TDI is low on horsepower, its 155 lb-ft of torque at just 1,900 rpm will ensure that your Jetta has plenty of pep for quick maneuvers.

The top engine for the Jetta family is a smooth 2.8-liter VR6. It makes 172 hp in the older Jetta, while a new intake manifold in the new generation allows it to generate 174 hp and 8 more pound-feet of torque (for a total of 181) at a much lower rpm (3,200 vs. 4,200). A manual transmission is standard, and an automatic is optional. If you're looking for something to bridge the gap between the economy-oriented four-cylinders and the VR6, just wait until the 2000 model year when VW offers its excellent 150-hp 1.8T.

Trim levels for the third-generation Jetta include the base GL, the frugal TDI, the well-equipped Wolfsburg and the loaded GLX. The GL comes with the base four-cylinder, a height-adjustable driver seat, keyless entry, an anti-theft alarm and power locks; options include air conditioning, cruise control, ABS, a stereo with cassette player, a CD changer, side airbags and a moonroof. The TDI is outfitted just like the GL, save for its diesel engine and standard cruise control; the options list includes power windows and mirrors in addition to the above items. The Wolfsburg is saddled with the base four, but it gives you all of the above (including the CD changer), except ABS, side airbags and a moonroof, which are optional. The GLX comes with the VR6 engine, a sport suspension, traction control, rear disc brakes, ABS, the moonroof and a cassette stereo, leaving you to purchase leather upholstery, seat heaters, side airbags and CD changer as options.

Fourth-generation Jetta buyers can choose between GL, GLS and GLX trim. Right away, you'll note that VW has substantially increased the amount of standard equipment, as even the GL includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side airbags and a telescoping steering wheel, as well as A/C and a stereo. Further, GL buyers can choose between the base 2.0-liter four and the 1.9-liter TDI. The GLS adds power windows, heated power mirrors and cruise, with leather upholstery, seat heaters, moonroof, CD changer and alloy wheels available as options. What's more, you can purchase a GLS with any of the three engines; if you select a GLS VR6, you also get a sport suspension (previously limited to the GLX). The GLX is, of course, equipped exclusively with the VR6, and now it's even more upscale, as VW has added heated leather seats to the standard features list. Sport seats have joined the CD changer on the options list.

Though engineered to provide a comfortable ride, both Jettas are endowed with communicative suspension and steering setups, which makes them more fun in corners than a typical Honda Civic or Accord. The fourth-generation Jetta also gives you a lot more style and content than you could ever hope to find in any competitor. What the VW doesn't give you is Honda's reputation for dependability, but we've been impressed by the solid construction of the Jetta specimens we've examined recently -- enough so that we feel that most Jettas can provide years of entertaining service (while backed by a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty).

1999 Highlights

Volkswagen offers two generations of the Jetta for sale in 1999. The third-generation Jetta has been around since 1993, and it is a carryover for 1999. VW deletes the GT, K2 and GLS models from the lineup, leaving only the GL, GLX, TDI and Wolfsburg models. Later in the model year, the company introduces a completely redesigned Jetta with a smooth new European body, improved versions of the base inline four and the VR6 and a simplified lineup of GL, GLS and GLX models. If you can hold out for a 2000 model, VW will offer a 150-hp 1.8-liter turbo for the GLS.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Jetta's run over 200,000K If treated well
I have owned 2 Jettas 1999 and a 1995. One Got into an accident and had a little over 175,000 miles and the other is still running till this day at 206,000. Jettas are great reliable cars. If somone has a complaint about jetta's they either got the very few bad ones out of the bunch or the previous owner just mistreated it before it came to you. My aunt has one that is over 250,000 miles and running. If these cars are well maintained they run like champs for a very very long time.
The miracle find
I just bought my 1999 VW Jetta, private sale, and it only had 97K on the vehicle. I reconditioned it this weekend and I honestly can't believe this car is 16 years old. It drove well on the ride around the block, so I just knew it had potential to be one of these cars that you hear about making it to 300K. So I have taken the maintenance schedule in stages, because I am not under any illusions that things won't need to be replaced, BUT it will still be cheaper than making a car payment and paying full coverage insurance and maintenance costs.
My badass vr6 Volkswagen Jetta
GLX VR6 4dr Sedan (midyear)
I love my Jetta vr6 2.8 liter it's fast I'm going to be adding a turbo to it the only thing about it is that I do not like about the car was replacing parts that expensive hard to find for the vr6 otherwise the car is great to drive looks nice on the road with all the fences stuff that I put on it hard to find the right suspension system to lower my car now I gotta replace the clutch after 182000 miles on the car but the cars been great to me never had major problems so now is time to give her stage 1 racing clutch and a full air suspension ride behandle bility and replace my 17 inch low profile rims and tires for 18 inch low profile rims and tires my wife hates the car because I love my car more than I love her Thank You Volkswagen I wish you made another vr6 in the newer model with the sunroof I would buy it in a heartbeat but now I will not give up this car no matter what even for new one even if you gave it to me for free I still would not trade it in for seems to me every time I go by the dealership somebody's always offering money to buy my vr6 they said it's hard to find and very rare in this condition special all the things I've added to the car to make sure dress up beautiful and fast it's hard to give up something that you built by hand
This Car Saved My Life
I totaled my Jetta in a head on collision with a guard rail after a tire blew, and walked away with minor bruises. I then turned around and bought the same exact car. People can say what they will about cup holders breaking and plastic peeling, but I say quit complaining. You either are a VW person or your not, and I am 100%. I had to replace my battery, timing belt @ 120,000k (which was a choice to avoid problems), brakes, and my battery, but these are all things that should be fixed on any vehicle with over 100,000 miles. I am a VW believer all the way.

Features & Specs

21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
115 hp @ 5400 rpm
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
115 hp @ 5200 rpm
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
115 hp @ 5400 rpm
17 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
174 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 1999 Volkswagen Jetta features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta

Used 1999 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The Used 1999 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Jetta Sedan, Jetta Diesel. Available styles include Wolfsburg 4dr Sedan, GL 4dr Sedan (midyear), GL 4dr Sedan, GLS VR6 4dr Sedan (midyear), GLX VR6 4dr Sedan, GLS 4dr Sedan (midyear), GLX VR6 4dr Sedan (midyear), TDi 4dr Sedan, GL TDi 4dr Sedan (midyear), and GLS TDi 4dr Sedan (midyear).

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Volkswagen Jetta?

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Which used 1999 Volkswagen Jettas are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Volkswagen Jetta?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Jetta lease specials