2018 Volkswagen Jetta Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious cabin feels like a class larger
  • Large trunk has plenty of space
  • Quick acceleration with optional engines
  • New, longer warranty coverage
  • Downmarket cabins in many trim levels
  • Limited availability of advanced safety features
  • Not much fun to drive because of lifeless steering and handling
List Price Range
$10,487 - $17,186

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Which Jetta does Edmunds recommend?

The range-topping GLI is the most compelling of all the Jetta trims for those shoppers who prioritize performance. But we recommend that most buyers take a look at the SE Sport, which hits the sweet spot among Jettas for performance, comfort and value. Its engine has more oomph than the one in the base Jetta, and it has a solid complement of standard creature comforts.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

6.4 / 10

In previous generations, the Volkswagen Jetta delivered a decidedly European driving experience and had refinement in spades. In its current iteration, the 2018 Jetta is all about size — a large cabin and trunk are its standout features. Refinement and fun are nowhere to be found. It's as if Volkswagen finally caved and traded the Jetta's uniquely Germanic values for generic attributes in the search for mass-market appeal.

Certainly, having a lot of interior space is a good thing. And the Jetta boasts a couple of turbocharged engines that provide strong acceleration and agreeable fuel economy. But your choices for a small sedan are varied, and many of them surpass the Jetta in terms of style, handling and features.

It's likely that Volkswagen will completely overhaul the Jetta for the 2019 model year. In the meantime, might we suggest taking a look at models such as the Honda Civic, Kia Forte and Mazda 3? Volkswagen's Golf hatchback is a more desirable choice as well.

2018 Volkswagen Jetta models

The 2018 Jetta is available in six trim levels — S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, SE Sport, SEL and GLI. All Jettas are four-door sedans that seat five occupants, and all are offered exclusively with front-wheel drive. The trim levels are differentiated mainly by engine and feature content.

The base S model is pretty sparse. It has 16-inch aluminum wheels, cloth upholstery, manual seats, heated side mirrors, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split rear seats, a rearview camera, and a four-speaker sound system with a 5-inch touchscreen interface, a CD player, a USB port, and an auxiliary audio jack. An optional Cold Weather package adds heated front seats and windshield washer nozzles; this package is standard on every other trim level.

A 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (150 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque) is the only engine available in S, Wolfsburg Edition and SE trims. All three of those trims have a standard five-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic transmission.

New for 2018 is the Wolfsburg Edition trim, which is largely similar to the S trim save for a few additional features. It adds foglights, simulated leather upholstery and driver lumbar, heated front seats, a backseat pass-through, and a leather-wrapped transmission selector knob and parking brake cover.

SE models add a few goodies, including a sunroof, color-keyed mirrors and chrome side window trim, blind-spot monitoring, keyless ignition and entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 6.3-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

The SE Sport model is like an SE with more power. SE Sport models come with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (170 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque) and a six-speed automatic. A trunklid spoiler, 17-inch wheels, gloss black cabin trim, and a black headliner and roof are part of the deal.

SEL models share their engine and transmission with the SE Sport and add a few creature comforts such as automatic headlights, automatic wipers, a power-adjustable driver seat, navigation, a premium Fender sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a cooled glovebox. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are also included.

The GLI trim is where things get zesty. It gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (210 hp, 207 lb-ft of torque), a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, larger brakes, 18-inch wheels, and unique body and cabin trimmings. Standard equipment includes sport seats, a unique steering wheel with shift paddles, parking alerts and a self-dimming mirror. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are two notable deletions, however.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium (turbo 1.8L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Jetta has received some revisions, including the addition of driver assistance features and minor revisions to the infotainment system. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Jetta.

Driving

7.0
The Jetta with the 1.8-liter engine is a bit of a drag racer among compact cars — faster than almost all its rivals. But show it a corner, and it fails to deliver any semblance of responsiveness, engagement or confidence. Lower trims with the smaller 1.4-liter engine would fare even worse.

Acceleration

7.5
The 1.8-liter turbo-four is a superb engine (lower trims have a 1.4-liter turbo-four). Low-end power galore makes it feel every bit as quick as it is — 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds is topped only by a few, very quick competitors.

Braking

5.5
In our emergency braking test, the Jetta posted impressive performance for a small sedan. Around town, the brake pedal has a long-travel, low-effort feel.

Steering

6.5
The steering has an elastic-band quality — it's numb, with ample dead play at center, then weights up when turning increases. Scarce response and feedback. It's hard to think of a competitor that is worse.

Handling

6.5
Overall grip is on a par with rivals, but there's an awful lot of body roll when you're going around a turn. It's not at all playful, and it utterly lacks feedback. You don't feel confident driving it energetically, nor would you want to.

Drivability

8.5
Many will dislike brake pedal effort and travel, along with its positioning relative to the accelerator. Jumpy acceleration at times.

Comfort

6.5
The Jetta is a small sedan you could envision taking a cross-country road trip in as it is suitably quiet and comfortable. Is it more so than its competitors? Not really, and it also can't match the altogether more impressive Volkswagen Golf.

Seat comfort

6.5
Power seats, even on loaded trims, adjust only six ways (there's no front-seat bottom lift), reducing potential driver comfort. Acceptable adjustment in lower trims. The seats themselves are firm and supportive.

Ride comfort

6.5
The Jetta is composed, and it imparts a sense of solidity when going over bumps and undulations. No impact harshness detected over potholes and especially bad pavement. This is one of the few ways the Jetta feels like a proper German sedan.

Noise & vibration

7.0
The turbocharged engine is more pleasing to the ears than most other four-cylinders in the segment. Levels of wind and road noise are average for the segment. A road trip would not become tiresome.

Interior

7.0
The Jetta's generous size would be the reason to consider this car, especially in one of its less expensive lower trims. Quite simply, this is one of the most affordable ways to get a new family-friendly sedan.

Ease of use

7.5
The smallish infotainment screen is mounted a bit low, but it has crisp graphics, quick responses and nicely sized icons. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with this 6.3-inch system. Straightforward controls elsewhere.

Getting in/getting out

7.0
With its sizable interior proportions and big doors, this is an easy sedan to get in and out of. The squared-off roofline provides additional head clearance for rear passengers.

Roominess

7.0
The Jetta is a lot like a midsize sedan, as a pair of 6-footers can easily sit in a row. Headroom is plentiful, even with a sunroof. A viable family car — most competitors cannot claim that.

Visibility

7.5
The big windows, thick pillars and squared-off roofline create good visibility all around. A rearview camera is standard on all but most basic Jetta. Excessive reflections from plastic trim front and rear.

Quality

6.0
High-quality switchgear, but the only soft-touch surface is the squishy dashboard found on upper trims. Everything else is hard and shiny. Materials are subpar for this segment and in no way indicative of an as-tested $28,000 car.

Utility

6.5
A huge trunk goes a long way toward making the Jetta a truly practical sedan. Its cabin storage isn't quite as impressive, ranking about average.

Small-item storage

6.0
Small-item storage for the front occupants is just OK. The forward bin works well to keep a phone and wires out of the way.

Cargo space

8.0
This trunk is enormous — wide and very deep. Its 15.5-cubic-foot dimension is on par with capacity in midsize sedans and easily bests compact rivals.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall6.4 / 10
Driving7.0
Comfort6.5
Interior7.0
Utility6.5
Technology5.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Fun, Zippy, Great Handling Roomy Sedan
Mclaren Spencer,01/10/2018
1.4T S 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
The clutch is super easy to use, the truck and back seat have all the room you could ever need. Very high quality build and materials. A fun, zippy turbo. Best bang for your buck out there.
A lot of car for the money
Aikiman,11/03/2018
1.4T SE 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Edmunds’ review is lukewarm, but mine isn’t. This car has been engineered with the driver in mind. It’s German roots are everywhere; from the quick acceleration, confident braking, and on-point handling it is a joy to drive. After one year the car has had no problems and is still as fun to drive as when it was purchased.
A zippy sports sedan without a high price tag
LF,05/27/2018
1.8T SE Sport 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I LOVE my new 2018 Jetta. I have the Sports model and I could not be happier with it. I have been a loyal VW driver for 18 years and this car does not disappoint.The exterior is so slick looking and eye catching. I love the way it gets looks when I am driving and the "invitation" to "race" from much more expensive cars, has me gleeful every time.. The interior is also quite sleek. The black headliner and all black interior is so sexy. The driver's seat fits me and is comfortable, unlike the seats in the 2015 Golf (my previous car). The infotainment center has undergone a huge upgrade and it is so easy to use, practical and fun. There are not a lot of bells and whistles but I don't need them. The only things I miss from my Golf are the sunshade extenders and having air/heat vents in the back seat. Why aren't there any there? I think this is a major design flaw. I also wish the stereo was heftier. The speakers are already in need of some tune up and it has only been a month. I am enjoying the more comfortable ride of the Jetta. It is smooth and responsive. It feels like it is "floating" over the road in a good way. The acceleration is quick (but not as zippy as the Golf) and the car feels heavy and safe. I am getting used to the keyless entry. I don't love that ....and I am so happy to have the ENORMOUS trunk. I adore this car. I look forward to (hopefully) many years of fun and safe driving.
Fantastic
William,05/25/2018
1.4T S 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
This is our third Jetta since 2014, all 5sp manual. The 2014 was very roomy, comfortable, reliable. The 2.0 engine was underpowered and poor fuel economy (26 avg), but great budget car. We then bought a new 2016 jetta S. The 1.4 turbo engine and gearing changes made this car perfect. Plenty of power and avg 36mpg. A tree fell on the car and forced another purchase. The 2017 was identical, with addition of LED daytime running lights. We get 36mpg city and 42mpg highway. The best part is we bought the last two in mid July, they were on sale for $13,000. Last year I rented a Chevrolet Malibu for a 1400 mile drive in 2 days. Mpg was 35 and very uncomfortable. I just made a 2 day 1400 mile drive in the Jetta, 42mpg and plenty comfortable. Love this car. *UPDATE* Made another 2 day 1400 mile trip. Avg speed 68-70mph. 51mpg. Car is amazing. *UPDATE 2* 21K miles. No issues. Mpg still unbelievable. Note: idling greatly cuts mpg. With no idling while parked, we consistently get 36-42mpg around town, 48-51mpg hwy.

Features & Specs

MPG
28 city / 40 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
150 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
150 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
150 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
28 city / 40 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
150 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Jetta models:

Blind-Spot Warning System
Alerts you with visual and audible warnings if other vehicles are 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 likely, and primes and applies the brakes if necessary.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta

Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in the following submodels: Jetta Sedan, Jetta 2.0T GLI. Available styles include 1.4T SE 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 1.4T SE 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), 1.4T S 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), 1.4T Wolfsburg Edition 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 1.4T S 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 1.8T SEL 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), 1.8T SE Sport 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), 1.4T Wolfsburg Edition 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and 2.0T GLI 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T S is priced between $10,487 and$14,962 with odometer readings between 18178 and62804 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T SE is priced between $14,215 and$15,900 with odometer readings between 18775 and38556 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T Wolfsburg Edition is priced between $14,490 and$15,700 with odometer readings between 9938 and38865 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SE Sport is priced between $14,995 and$15,795 with odometer readings between 37141 and51112 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL is priced between $17,186 and$17,186 with odometer readings between 30943 and30943 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T GLI is priced between $14,998 and$14,998 with odometer readings between 51614 and51614 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 Volkswagen Jettas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Volkswagen Jetta for sale near. There are currently 22 used and CPO 2018 Jettas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $10,487 and mileage as low as 9938 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Volkswagen Jetta.

Can't find a used 2018 Volkswagen Jettas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $10,566.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 12 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $21,150.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Jetta for sale - 8 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $18,977.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 12 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $22,496.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.

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Check out Volkswagen Jetta lease specials