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New Car Review – 2014 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta is beginning to meet expectations set by consumers after a long series of excellent releases. In 2011, the Jetta was drastically changed when the made-for-America model was released as it felt less like a Jetta and more than an average car. It underwhelmed for several years but seems to have returned to form in 2014. A majority of the previous downgrades such as hard plastic dashboard, poor rear drum brakes, and reduced amenities have returned to meet or exceed its competition.

For a long time, the Jetta was considered to be a top pick in its class as a small and affordable sedan but it quickly becomes an afterthought. Fortunately, things have dramatically improved since 2011 which makes the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta and excellent value.

Performance

One of the reasons the Jetta was instantly popular was performance. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta has introduced a new 1.8 liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine which is light-years ahead of the five-cylinder engine it replaces. Higher trim levels offer much more power which has received high marks from reviewers, especially the diesel engine. At the same time, the base engine is still not well received as many people feel it is too weak to offer a quality ride.

The base engine features 115 horsepower which is paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. The new turbocharged engine offers up to 140 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Overall, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta offers an estimated 23/29 miles per gallon city/highway which is comparatively low when considering its competition. On the other hand, the diesel engine boasts 30/42 mpg city/highway.

Compared to previous versions, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta features a much more impressive steering and braking system. This creates a smoother, steadier ride. While some competitors such as a Ford Focus get the headlines for performance, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta offers an agile alternative, especially at the GLI trim level.

Interior

The base 2014 Volkswagen Jetta still suffers from an overuse of plastic materials throughout the interior and the standard features are still lacking compared to some of the more popular alternatives. At the same time, the higher trim levels easily compete with the best alternatives available, especially when considering the soft-touch surfaces and excellent audio system. The overall layout is easy to get used to and the controls are simple to master. The highlight of the interior is definitely the cabin space. The larger than average trunk and roomy back seat is comparable to mid-sized sedans.

The base 2014 Volkswagen Jetta utilizes a tilt and telescoping steering wheel while higher trim levels offer heated front seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Visibility is solid which makes the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta easy to drive without worrying about blind spots.

The base 2014 Volkswagen Jetta offers only a CD audio system but does include an auxiliary audio jack. As trim levels increase, Bluetooth is available as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod interface, Fender audio system, navigation, sunroof, and rearview camera. A unique addition is the VW Car-Net system. This system links the car’s security, maintenance, and navigation together and allows information to easily be accessed from a Smartphone app.

Safety

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta includes a variety of safety features include airbags (driver, side head, side, passenger, and rear head), electronic stability control, child safety locks, brake assist, 4-wheel ABS, traction control, and daytime running lights. The overall rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is good although the small overlap front test results received a marginal rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta four or five stars across the board.

Available Trim Levels/Options

Very few people will be overly impressed with the base 2014 Volkswagen Jetta which makes the additional trim levels and options the key to this car’s success. Currently, the Jetta is available in five trim levels – base, S, SE, SEL, and TDI. The base model is stick shift only and must be special-ordered from dealerships in most cases. It includes a 2.0 liter engine, 15-inch wheels, height adjustable front seats, four speaker CD system, and cloth upholstery. The Jetta S adds keyless entry, air conditioning, power door locks, and heated side mirrors. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta S is what most buyers will see as the “base class” at dealerships.

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE is where the 1.8-liter turbo engine is introduced. It also includes electric power steering, body-color exterior mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, two-way power front seats, trunk pass-through, and six-speaker sound system which includes satellite radio and iPod interface. The SEL adding 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, driver lumbar adjustment capabilities, heater washer nozzles, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Car-Net telematics. A sunroof and keyless entry/ignition can be added as well.

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SEL includes all of the SE options as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, soft-touch dashboard, rearview camera, touch screen navigation system, and eight speak Fender premium sound system. The final option is the Jetta TDI. This is model which boasts the turbocharged diesel engine. Overall, it is similar to the SEL with Connectivity but feature different 16-inch alloy wheels. TDI can also be upgraded to Premium which adds a sunroof, rearview camera, and Fender sound system.

Driving Impressions

Most people agree the base 2014 Volkswagen Jetta with 2.0-liter engine should be avoided because the fuel economy is fairly low for its class and the engine feels underpowered when driving in the city or on the highway. On the other hand, the 1.8-liter turbo is excellent for the class. Plus, the automatic transmission is smooth with well-timed shifts. Overall, the TDI provides the best fuel economy and makes it much more powerful than the horsepower suggests. In general, the manual transmission gets better reviews because the automatic intermittently suffers from a delayed response when left in normal Drive mode.

How the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Stacks Up

While the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta is a vast improved over its predecessors, it still doesn’t rank at the top of its class. Anyone interested in the Jetta should also consider similar alternatives within the class such as the fully redesigned Mazda 3 or Chevrolet Cruze. The higher the trim level, the more competitive the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta becomes.

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