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2015 Volkswagen Jetta: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2014

Although the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta might not look too different from last year's model, it offers a few updates and changes. There's a revised interior, for example, that puts a larger emphasis on materials quality than last year's model did. There are also some new features, such as a recently released telematics system, and some updates under the hood, including a slightly revised diesel engine that boasts better gas mileage than before.

In general, however, the Jetta is about the same as it ever was. That's a good thing because it boasts a roomy interior, European-car handling, reasonable pricing, and competent, capable engines and transmissions -- all of which we'll cover in greater depth below.

What's New for 2015?

The Jetta is face-lifted for 2015 with slightly revised styling, an improved interior, a few new features, and updated tuning for better gas mileage with the diesel powertrain.

What We Like

Roomy interior; reasonable pricing; potent 1.8-liter turbocharged engine; fuel-efficient diesel

What We Don't

Outdated technology; diesel can be pricey; subpar base-level 2.0-liter engine

How Much?

$17,000-$32,900

Fuel Economy

The Jetta is offered with three engines. Base models use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder powerplant that makes just 115 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. They return 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with a standard manual transmission or 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with an optional automatic.

We highly recommend upgrading to at least the new 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which came out last year. It makes 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and gives the car a fairly potent feeling. Interestingly, gas mileage is better with the 1.8T than with the 2.0. The 1.8-liter Jetta model returns 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with an automatic or manual transmission.

For shoppers who want even more power, Volkswagen is expected to offer the Jetta GLI. That model uses a 210-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It returns 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with a manual transmission or 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with an optional dual-clutch automatic.

Topping the Jetta lineup for fuel economy are diesel and hybrid engine options. Rated at 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, the brand's 2.0-liter turbodiesel powerplant returns 31 mpg city/46 mpg hwy with a manual, or 31 mpg city/45 mpg hwy with an automatic. These ratings are up a few mpg compared to last year.

Although Volkswagen has not officially moved the Jetta Hybrid to a 2015 model, the 2014 version boasts 170 hp and returns 42 mpg city/48 mpg hwy. Once the Jetta Hybrid makes the switch to a 2015 model, we'll cover it in a separate review.

Standard Features & Options

The Jetta comes in a wide range of trim levels with a wide variety of engine options. As gas- or diesel-powered models go, there are five trims: a base-level Jetta, followed by the Jetta S, the SE, the Sport and the SEL. While the Jetta SportWagen hasn't yet made the switch to a 2015 model, it only offers S, SE and diesel-powered TDI trims. Then there's a fuel-efficient Jetta Hybrid, which is covered separately, along with a sporty Jetta GLI. Even the GLI is divided into two trims: SE and SEL.

The base-level Jetta ($17,000) is only offered with the brand's 2.0-liter engine. Only available on special order, it includes very few features, including power windows, a 4-speaker stereo with a CD player, and not much else. Unless you're on a very strict budget, this probably isn't the model you want. It doesn't even include air conditioning.

Next up is the Jetta S (starting from $18,100), which is offered with a 2.0-liter gas or turbodiesel engine, in sedan or SportWagen body styles. It adds all the basics you'll want, such as Bluetooth, air conditioning, a 4-inch touchscreen, power door locks and cruise control.

The Jetta's midlevel SE trim level (starting from $19,800) is its most popular. It also offers the most engine and body style options. There's a standard 1.8T engine, with options including a SportWagen variant, a turbodiesel powerplant, and even a sporty GLI model with more power. Standard features include heated front seats, alloy wheels and satellite radio.

Next up is the Jetta Sport ($21,900), which is only offered with the 1.8T engine. Sport models add larger alloy wheels, fog lights, a backup camera, leatherette upholstery, a rear spoiler and fog lights.

Above the Sport is the SEL model (starting from $26,000), which is offered in 1.8T, turbodiesel or GLI guise. It adds to the SE model, offering a standard navigation system, a power driver's seat, a Fender premium sound system, automatic wipers, and keyless ignition and entry.

Although most of the Jetta's features are included in one of its many trim levels, there are a few other options such as forward-collision warning, rear parking sensors, a blind spot monitoring system and xenon headlights.

Safety

Although the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta has not yet been crash-tested, similar 2014 models earned a perfect 5-star overall rating from the federal government's NHTSA. In crash tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2015 Jetta earned the group's top rating: Top Safety Pick+.

As for safety equipment, the Jetta offers a long list of available items. Standard features include front- and side-curtain airbags, while options range from simple gadgets like parking sensors and xenon headlights to forward-collision alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, we didn't notice any huge differences compared to the outgoing Jetta model. That is to say that the 2015 version offers a compliant ride, hushed road noise, secure -- but not sporty -- handling, and reasonably strong acceleration, especially from the new 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. In other words, we're still impressed with the Jetta, but not overwhelmed. We suspect that this will be a good thing for most compact car shoppers.

As for the new interior, we think it's a much better place to spend time than the old model's cabin was. While it retains the same roomy atmosphere as the outgoing model, the interior materials are substantially -- and noticeably -- upgraded, giving the 2015 Jetta a more luxurious feel. Volkswagen tried hard to change the cabin's quality, and it shows.

When it comes to acceleration, our biggest advice is to avoid the old 2.0-liter engine. Not only is its technology highly outdated, but its fuel economy is actually considerably worse than the more potent 1.8T. We like every other powerplant more, from the GLI's sporty turbo engine to the 1.8T -- and even the frugal 4-cylinder engine in the Jetta Hybrid.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Focus -- Although it's getting a bit old, the Focus offers reasonable pricing, sedan or hatchback variants, and an excellent interior with a wide range of new technology.

Honda Civic -- The Civic is still one of our favorite compact cars, touting legendary reliability, several available engines, and two unique body styles.

Mazda3 -- The Mazda3 is our favorite compact car, as it combines excellent styling and muscular engines with cutting-edge technology and impressive fuel economy.

AutoTrader's Advice

If we were choosing a Jetta, it would be a diesel-powered TDI model in the SE or SEL trim. Not only do you get the usual Jetta features like a smooth ride and competent handling, but the well-equipped Jetta TDI also boasts a long list of features and a frugal 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine -- a powerplant that only seems to be getting better as the years go by.

Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
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Certified 2015 Volkswagen Jetta SE Sedan
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Certified 2015 Volkswagen Jetta SE Sedan
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Used 2015 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.
2015 Volkswagen Jetta: New Car Review - Autotrader