Early Volkswagen Jettas placed a strong emphasis on driving precision and an upscale personality. More recently, VW gave the Jetta a more practical and comfort-oriented direction, but it came at the cost of refinement. It wasn't an approach we were particularly fond of. The redesigned 2019 Volkswagen Jetta looks to be an improvement, though. It continues the trend toward greater size and comfort, but this time around quality hasn't been so obviously sacrificed.
The new Jetta is slightly longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model, with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. The exterior styling is more distinctive, with sharp character lines, a larger grille, and a much larger presence on the road. There's more room and comfort for front passengers, though the trunk is slightly smaller this time around.
The interior design is certainly more modern. The Jetta's lower trim levels come with a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The more expensive trim levels get a larger 8-inch screen plus VW's Digital Cockpit, which is a fully digital and customizable gauge cluster. Almost every Jetta comes with useful driver safety aids, including forward collision mitigation and blind-spot monitoring.
For power, the Jetta continues to come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four (147 horsepower) that is connected to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is reasonably quick for the class, and the EPA estimates you'll get 34 mpg in combined city/highway driving, which is slightly better than last year. VW says it will also offer a sportier GLI variant in the future.
Overall, the new 2019 Jetta is a solid small sedan. We think it's worth considering alongside other top models such as the Honda Civic, the Kia Forte and the Mazda 3.
trim levels & features
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is a compact sedan that's available in five trims. The base S aims to undercut its competition with a lower price point without sacrificing features. The SE model adds more convenience features, while the R-Line has similar features but with different styling elements. The SEL and SEL Premium trims add enough tech to turn the Jetta into a mini luxury sedan.
All are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The base S comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with an eight-speed automatic optional. The eight-speed auto is standard on the remaining trims.
Highlights for the Jetta S include 16-inch alloy wheels, LED head- and taillights, air conditioning, a 6.5-inch touchscreen-based infotainment system, a rearview camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a USB port, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system.
An optional Driver Assistance package adds forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Jetta SE has those features as standard plus a sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless entry with push-button start.
If you want a slightly different look, opt for the Jetta R-Line. It has similar equipment to the SE, but it rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and replaces the chrome grille and mirror caps with gloss-black pieces. A unique rear bumper finishes the look. On the inside, contrasting stitching on the steering wheel and R-Line badges remind you of your purchase. To help improve the Jetta's traction when powering out of turns aggressively, VW's XDS, an electronic differential lock, is standard on the R-Line only.
With the Jetta SEL, buyers get a taste of luxury-car life thanks to high-end features such as adaptive cruise control, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch display, satellite and HD radio, a fully digital gauge cluster (Digital Cockpit) and an extra USB port. Other safety items such as lane keeping assist, auto high-beam control, automatic wipers, and auto-dimming rearview mirror are standard as well. Oddly, the SEL drops back down to 16-inch alloy wheels, though you do get a 10-color adjustable ambient lighting system.
A Cold Weather package is available on SE, R-Line and SEL trims. It includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a heated windshield wiper park zone, heated windshield washer nozzles, and remote start.
The SEL Premium is the icing on the cake for the Jetta line. It has the features from the Cold Weather package plus 17-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat with memory settings, and a navigation system.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.