The Jetta has multiple engine options, but the Mazda3 only has one engine choice for 2019.
The compact car class is as competitive as ever in 2019. Two old names in this segment have new generations this year that make a strong effort to improve on their predecessors. We’re talking about the Mazda3 and the Volkswagen Jetta; two cars that may have shown up on your shopping list if you’re in the market for a new affordable compact.
Let’s take a look at what’s new with these two cars and see which is better.
The exteriors of both of these cars are totally new and follow the respective design languages of the brands they come from. The new Jetta is leading the charge in a new aesthetic that is spreading through the Volkswagen lineup while the look of the new Mazda3 falls in line with the brand’s more recent SUV designs. They both carry a nice, premium look, but we think the Mazda looks a little more interesting than the more conservatively-styled Jetta. See the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta models for sale near you
These two compact sedans are almost identical in size meaning they’ll take up just about the same amount of room in your garage and in parking spots. See the 2019 Mazda3 models for sale near you
The inside of the Mazda3 is a bit more upscale than the interior of the Jetta. Both are definitely improvements over their predecessors, but the Jetta’s interior quality is a little behind that of the Mazda’s. We’re not saying the VW has a bad interior, the Mazda3 interior is just that nice.
One advantage the Jetta has over the Mazda3 is a little more passenger space. A cramped back seat is one of our few complaints about the Mazda while the Jetta’s back seats are more accommodating for adults. Depending on the side of your passengers, this could make the Jetta a more suitable family vehicle and it has a big trunk further adding to its practicality.
The Mazda3 only has one engine available for 2019, but Mazda has stated that more variety under the hood is coming to the car in the near future. The Jetta has two turbocharged engines available: an efficient base engine and a higher-performance engine in the sporty JLI model. The Mazda3 sedan comes exclusively with an automatic transmission and the Jetta is available with your choice of a manual or an automatic.
2019 Mazda3 Engine
2.5-liter inline-four; 186 horsepower, 186 lb-ft of torque; up to 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway
2019 Volkswagen Jetta Engines
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four; 147 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque; 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four; 228 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque; 25 mpg city/32 mpg hwy
The efficient choice is clearly the Jetta with the base engine that’s capable of up to 40 mpg on the highway. However, the base engine in the Mazda3 has considerably more horsepower along with more of an overall fun-to-drive factor that’s disappointingly absent from the base Jetta. However, that changes when you upgrade to the Jetta JLI, which delivers performance that the Mazda can’t match.
Both of these cars come standard with front-wheel drive, but only the Mazda has available all-wheel drive, which is something to consider if you live in a snowy climate or just want the extra traction.
Both of these compacts have good, intuitive infotainment systems and it’s hard to declare one better than the other. The Mazda has a standard 8.8-in screen while the Jetta has a standard 6.5-in screen and an optional 8-in screen. The Mazda’s system is controlled with a rotary dial and the VW uses a touchscreen interface. It’s worth noting that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on the Jetta, but optional on the Mazda3.
Both cars are a little light on standard driver assistance technology, but there’s a lot of cool safety tech you can get for an extra cost. Available safety tech in both cars includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and more.
The 2019 Jetta has an affordable starting MSRP of $18,745 and the 2019 Mazda3 sedan starts at $21,000. The most affordable AWD Mazda3 sedan you can get starts at $24,000 and if you want one fully loaded with the Premium package and AWD it will set you back $27,900. The range-topping Jetta JLI with the dual-clutch automatic transmission starts at $29,995 and there are multiple trims throughout the $20-30k range to choose from with varying levels of equipment.
With a lower starting price, a more efficient base engine, and more standard connectivity tech, the Jetta is the value proposition between these two compacts. However, the refined Mazda3 is the nicer car if you have more room in your budget. A premium interior, engaging performance, and available AWD all make the Mazda3 a true stand-out in its class. Find a Volkswagen Jetta for sale or Find a Mazda3 for sale