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2013 Volkswagen Jetta: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions October 2014

Volkswagen gave Americans a more affordable new-generation Jetta for 2011 that was reimagined for American tastes and driving habits. As with the 2011 model, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta eliminated the independent rear suspension (except on the sporty GLI model) and expensive-looking interior materials of the previous-generation car, offering a larger, roomier compact sedan with a beam rear axle and more hard plastic on the inside. New for 2013, the Jetta Hybrid joined the lineup as Volkswagen's first hybrid for the U.S. market.

What We Like

Sporty handling and 200 horsepower in the GLI model; rear-seat legroom; fuel economy and generous torque of 2.0-liter diesel engine; solid structure; roomy trunk

What We Don't

Weak acceleration of base 2.0-liter gas engine; hard-plastic trim and low-cost look of interior; no USB port; poor linearity of hybrid brake response

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Jetta S comes with a 2.0-liter, single-overhead-camshaft 4-cylinder. Output is a very modest 115 hp, and it develops 125 lb-ft of torque. It has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission and 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.

The Jetta SE and SEL are powered by a 2.5-liter double-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 20-valve 5-cylinder, which produces a generous 170 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. It's EPA-rated at 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with the standard 5-speed manual and 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.

Jetta TDI models get their grunt from a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder turbodiesel with 140 hp on tap, and an impressive 236 lb-ft of torque offers good response. The diesel's EPA fuel economy rating is 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy with both the standard 6-speed manual transmission and the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The Jetta GLI features a zippy 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder gas turbo, pumping 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. It's teamed with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, with the manual EPA-rated at 22 mpg city/33 mpg hwy and the automatic at 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. Premium fuel is required.

The Jetta Hybrid comes with a 150-hp 1.4-liter gas turbo, a 27-hp electric drive motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. Hooked to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, it's EPA-rated at 42 mpg city/48 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2013 VW Jetta sedan is available in S, SE, SEL, TDI and GLI trims.

The base Jetta S sedan offers the basics. Typical equipment includes a 115-hp engine, cloth upholstery, height-adjustable front seats, air conditioning, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, 4-wheel disc brakes, a split folding rear seat, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and power windows, mirrors and door locks.

The Jetta SE upgrades to the 170-hp 5-cylinder engine and adds standards such as cruise control, leatherette-covered seats, a security system, a lockable glove box, front and rear center armrests, front reading lamps, visor vanity mirrors, power-reclining front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and 16-in wheels. The SE also adds a power moonroof, an upgraded 6-speaker stereo and heated front seats to the options list. A Hybrid version is also available.

Next up is the SEL. Standard fare includes fog lamps, a navigation system, steering-wheel audio controls, an upgraded audio system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, push-button starting, 17-in alloy wheels, a trip computer, heated front seats, a power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, a soft-touch dash and 2-tone interior trim. A Hybrid version is also available.

The Jetta TDI comes with Volkswagen's excellent 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine and includes all of the SE-level features, plus a power moonroof, a premium touchscreen audio system, heated seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, parking brake and shifter.

The GLI is the sportiest Jetta, featuring a 200-hp gas-powered turbo 4-cylinder engine, a sport suspension, 17-in alloy wheels, aluminum-trimmed pedals, sport seats, an aero body kit and most of the amenities on the SEL. The Autobahn version gains a sunroof, navigation, a backup camera, 18-in alloys, heated seats, LED running lights and a Fender premium sound system.

Pricing

Despite not matching products from Honda and Toyota in terms of reliability, there will always be buyers who gravitate toward the fun-to-drive quality of European cars. Because a lot of Jettas were sold in recent years, many are coming back into the market as used cars, which tends to moderate pricing.

For an understanding of the 2013 Jetta sedan's price range, you can look up used-car values at KBB.com. Search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recall for the 2013 Jetta sedan:

On Hybrid models, the gearbox control module may corrode, causing a short circuit and a stall-like condition, increasing the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they will fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta sedan received a 4-star rating for frontal impact and a 5-star rating for side impact from NHTSA.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2013 Jetta sedan a Good rating for moderate-overlap frontal impact, side impact, roof strength, and for head-restraint and seat crash performance but only a Marginal rating for small-overlap frontal impact.

Volkswagen covered the 2013 Jetta with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 12-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty. Additionally, routine maintenance and roadside assistance were covered for a 3-year/36,000-mile period.

Volkswagen certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 6 years old or less. Every CPO Jetta undergoes a 112-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Volkswagen CPO warranty covers the whole car (bumper-to-bumper) for 2 years or 24,000 miles and includes roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2013 Chevrolet Cruze -- Like the Jetta, the Cruze's Opel roots give it a solid feel and fun-to-drive handling characteristics. The 1.4-liter turbo engine blends ample performance with good fuel economy. The Cruze isn't involved with GM's ignition-switch recall because it uses a newer, improved design.

2013 Toyota Corolla -- Toyota's evergreen Corolla is consistently near the top of the compact sales race due to its reputation for good fuel economy, trouble-free operation and good resale value. The Corolla driving experience is plain vanilla, but an EPA rating of 28 mpg city/35 mpg hwy from a 132-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is nothing to complain about.

AutoTrader's Advice

Though the 2013 Jetta may lack some of the premium feel that pricier German sedans have, the Jetta's bones provide a solid basis for a well-sorted, fun-to-drive compact car with personality. Avoid the weak-kneed base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (it's also too early to tell if the Jetta Hybrid will hold up in the market), but it's hard to go wrong with the up-level inline 5-cylinder gas engine, the remarkably efficient (42 mpg hwy) TDI turbodiesel, or the sporty, fun-to-drive GLI gas turbo. Look for a Volkswagen certified pre-owned car if they're available.

Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale

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Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
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Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Sedan
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Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta SE
Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
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Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta SE
Used 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
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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.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta: Used Car Review - Autotrader