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New Car Review – Volkswagen Jetta

In 2011, the Volkswagen Jetta underwent a major redesign to capture a larger portion of the North American market.  Previously, it was considered to be a more expensive alternative to Asian-American compact cars.  Today it has been repositioned as a larger and less expensive car.  The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta has added a variety of new features to the upper level trims and a new hybrid model has been introduced.

One of the primary drawbacks for hard-core Volkswagen fans was the new look Jetta released in 2011 felt cheaper and the cost-cutting measures were noticeable.  The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta has continued along this path.  While improvements have only been made to the upper trim levels, it should still be considered a solid choice within its class.

Interior and Exterior

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta offers a variety of trim levels including Base, S, SE, SEL, and TDI.  The base Jetta includes 15 inch steel wheels, height adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery, four speaker stereo system with CD player, and power windows.  The Jetta S adds air-conditioning, power locks, keyless entry, and heated side mirrors.  The S model which includes the addition of a sunroof provides the added bonus of gaining cruise control and a front center console.

The Volkswagen Jetta SE is where many people will start their search.  Not only does it include a more powerful engine, but it also has 16 inch steel wheels, two way power front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, and leather wrapped steering will, shift knob, and brake handle.  The Convenience package provides additional upgrades to the SE trim level.  They include 16 inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, and six speaker sound system with satellite radio and iPod interface.  A sunroof can be added to this package is well which will also provide an improved sound system with touchscreen interface.

The SEL trim level includes all of the SE optional equipment.  It also provides 17 inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, trip computer, and six way power driver seat.  Touchscreen navigation within a speaker Fender premium sound system can also be added on to this package.

The final trim level is the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.  It features a turbo diesel engine and is equipped similarly as the SE Convenience package.  The TDI Premium package also adds a sunroof, Fender sound system, navigation system, 17 inch alloy wheels, and keyless ignition and entry.


The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta offers buyers for powertrains and three transmissions, not including the hybrid sedan.  The least expensive Volkswagen Jetta includes a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine with either a six speed automatic or five speed manual transmission.  This car has a meager 115 horsepower, but it is the price leader.  One thing to consider is the more powerful Volkswagen Jetta sedans actually get better fuel economy numbers than the base model.

The next step up is the 2.5 liter, 170 horsepower five cylinder engine.  Not only does it accelerates faster, but it also provides better fuel economy than the base model.  The best performance option is the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.  The turbo diesel 2.0 liter engine features 140 horsepower and includes either a manual transmission or a six speed, dual clutch transmission.  In many situations, it has a fuel economy which rivals some hybrids hitting the market in 2013.


The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta includes very few changes from a safety perspective.  Fortunately, previous models consistently received high safety scores.  Some of the most notable safety features include traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and antilock disc brakes with brake assist.  As a result, it received an overall score of four stars in government crash test ratings.

Overall Quality

The 2013 Jetta sedan is larger than previous models making it larger than popular compact cars, but not as large as many midsize sedans.  Compared to the previous model, it is 2.9 inches longer to reach an overall length of 182.2 inches.  It is larger than other popular vehicles such as the Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte.  At the same time, it is not as large as the Hyundai Sonata or Subaru Legacy.  This shouldn’t be surprising as it is still considered to be a compact sedan.  The one drawback traditional Volkswagen Jetta fans consistently note is the material used on the interior, particularly the overabundance of plastic in some trim levels.

What to Expect from the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta

While the past few years have seen the Volkswagen Jetta turn into a more mainstream car for American buyers, the overall build is still decidedly German.  The ride quality continues to be smooth, although compared to other compact sedans the handling can feel a little heavier.  Most car buyers choose the Volkswagen Jetta S as the best overall value in the lineup, although there is a good case to be made for the Jetta SE which typically retails at only a few thousand dollars more.  While the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is one of the more expensive options, it is considered to be the ideal choice for commuters.  It features a low-end torque and impressive fuel economy.  Its benefits are even more notable when purchasing the manual transmission TDI.

In terms of overall packaging, the Volkswagen Jetta is superior to nearly every compact sedan.  It provides a large amount of interior space and solid safety scores.  At the same time, the Volkswagen Jetta sedan is designed specifically to appeal to value shoppers.  While it may not be the envy of traditional Volkswagen fans, there are a variety of benefits the 2013 line of Jetta’s can offer savvy car buyers.

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