• VW estimates 45 mpg combined for the turbo gas-electric Jetta.
  • Four trim levels available, with a starting price of $24,995.
  • Top-trim SEL Premium tops $31,000.

Volkswagen says its newest hybrid will bring performance to the world of gasoline-electric driving, thanks to a turbocharged engine and a sophisticated, 7-speed transmission. If so, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid will do it with a starting price of $25,000.

Volkswagen announced its first compact hybrid will start at $24,995, about $1,000 more than a base 2012 Toyota Prius. It's available in four trim levels: base Hybrid, SE, SEL and SEL Premium.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet rated the Jetta Hybrid's fuel economy, Volkswagen has provided its own estimate of 45 mpg combined. It says the hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 9 seconds, which is quicker than many hybrids. The latest Jetta uses a direct-injection 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that VW calls DSG. With the hybrid setup, the total system output is 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft torque.

The base model includes styling that's unique to the hybrid model plus alloy wheels, automatic climate control, Bluetooth and 6-speaker audio. Priced at $26,990, the SE model adds an iPod interface, color touchscreen audio, satellite radio and a proximity key with push-button start.

The SEL, priced at $29,325, gets a sunroof, navigation, heated front seats and a 6-way power driver's seat. Finally, the $31,180 SEL Premium gets extras such as a Fender audio system, Xenon headlights, 17-inch wheels and a backup camera. For comparison, the top-trim Prius Five is priced at $29,805.

But with only about 100 hp, Toyota's most popular hybrid may not be the best vehicle to compare to the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. Another Jetta model, the TDI, also offers both economy and sporty driving dynamics. The base 2013 Jetta TDI with a DSG transmission is priced at $24,090. That happens to be within $100 of the base 2012 Prius.

What it means to you: In the $25,000-30,000 range, automakers offer a range of fuel-efficient choices, from seasoned vets like the Prius to fresh models like the Jetta Hybrid. Check out the 170-hp Jetta Hybrid if you like a bit of performance with your economy.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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