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2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Eric Brandt November 2018
  • The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta begins the seventh generation of the brand's long-running compact sedan.

  • The new Jetta benefits from the MQB architecture that underpins several new Volkswagen and Audi models.

  • The Jetta has gotten bigger and has gotten a modest price cut compared to the outgoing model.

The Volkswagen Jetta has never had a reputation for being the most exciting car in its class, but it's a compact that's served as an affordable entry point into German engineering dating back to the 1970s. Fast forward to 2019, and the Jetta is entering its seventh generation with a new look, a new chassis and a full makeover to keep it modern and competitive.

Let's take a look at some of the differences between the 2018 and the 2019 Jetta.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Exterior

The styling of both the 2018 and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta could be considered conservative, but the new 2019 model has a little more character than its predecessor. It has a more sculpted body and a more distinct front end that continue the toned-down aesthetic while still making a statement.

The Jetta also got a little bigger for 2019. The 2018 model was already somewhere in between compact and midsize, and the new model takes it further towards midsize while still being considered a compact sedan. The new Jetta is a little longer and a little wider than the 2018 model, but it retains the same height.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Interior

Like the exterior, the all-new Jetta's interior continues a conservative styling ethos but looks a bit more premium than the 2018 Jetta. The center stack is more clearly pointed towards the driver with controls that are easy to reach and not too cluttered. What's really nice is the optional 10.3-inch digital cockpit that can replace the analog gauges in the dashboard with a lovely customizable screen.

Despite the car getting bigger, it actually loses a little bit of interior space. Headroom is about the same for all occupants, and there's a little less legroom. It's still in line with other cars in its class, and there's adequate room in the back to seat two comfortably. The 2018 and the 2019 Jetta both have five seats, but like in most compacts, it's a little cramped when all five seats are in use.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Mechanicals

The Jetta got a new base engine for 2018, and it continues as the only engine available in the 2019 model. However, there are two engines in the 2018 Jetta that you can't get in the new one -- at least not yet.

2018 Volkswagen Jetta Engines

  • 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four; 150 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque; 28 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway

  • 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four; 170 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque; 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four; 210 hp, 207 lb-ft of torque; 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Engine

  • 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four; 147 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque; 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy

As you can see, performance isn't the main focus of the new Jetta. Its sole engine option isn't bad, and its fuel economy numbers are respectable, but it would be nice to see a little more mechanical variety in the new Jetta. We're expecting the Jetta GLI to return for the 2020 model year, which should be a little more exciting for enthusiasts looking for a practical sedan.

All Jetta models are equipped with front-wheel drive and are available with either a manual or automatic transmission. For 2019, the manual goes from a 5-speed to a 6-speed, and the automatic goes from a 6-speed to an 8-speed.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Technology

On top of the fantastic digital cockpit we mentioned earlier, there's a lot of desirable tech available in the new 2019 Jetta. Its 8-in touchscreen infotainment system is responsive and user-friendly with a really nice-looking screen. It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, which are excellent features to have for integrating your phone into your car.

The new Jetta is also available with the VW Car-Net mobile app, which does all kinds of cool tricks. If your Jetta is equipped with a sunroof, it has a rain notification. If it knows the sunroof is open and knows that there's rain in the forecast, it can send you a notification to let you know. However, you can't close the sunroof from the app. The app can also save parking information and remotely lock and unlock the doors.

For peace of mind behind the wheel, the 2019 Jetta is available with all kinds of driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, lane-keep assist, park-distance control and forward-collision warning.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Pricing

Despite getting bigger and more modern, the Jetta gets a slight price cut for 2019. The starting MSRP of the 2018 model is $18,645, and the 2019 model starts at $18,545. The higher trims of both can get into the mid-$20k range, with the 2018 Jetta GLI almost reaching $30k. The higher trims get you nice features like leather seats, navigation, Beats premium audio, the digital cockpit and more.

2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Conclusion

For a modest compact sedan that's something a little different from the more mainstream offerings, the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is a nice alternative. It's stylish with a very nice interior, modern technology and an efficient powertrain. It would be nice to see more variety under the hood, but we think we will as the new generation of Jetta grows into its own.

If you're comparing the 2018 and the 2019 Jetta, the 2019 model is an easy recommendation considering the similarity in pricing. However, we'd recommend the 2018 GLI to the enthusiast looking for a little more excitement.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: What's the Difference? - Autotrader