The compact sedan segment is full of well-accomplished competitors but you may find them all a bit too playful. If you desire a more grownup car that brings German character at lower price, 2018 Volkswagen Jetta with a starting price of $18,645 is worth a look. It looks business, is well built and has a combination of precise steering and compliant ride quality.
Moreover, the huge rear seats with abundant legroom and cavernous trunk make it as family friendly as a midsize sedan. However, the interior may feel a bit too bland and there are plenty of hard plastics – it’s not as upscale inside as some of the rivals. Engine options include a 150-hp 1.4L turbo I4 engine delivering 33 mpg combined. A 170-hp 1.8L TSI and a gusty 210-hp 2.0L TSI offer more oomph.
On safety front, the 2018 Jetta gets 5-star in NHTSA crash test rating. The Jetta has below average resale value. To address that, Volkswagen offers 6-years or 72,000-mile bumper to bumper warranty that’s fully transferable to second owner. Also, an all-new 2019 VW Jetta is on the way so you can get great dealer offers on current 2018 Jetta.
The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta comes at a starting price of $18,645 is worth a look. It looks business, is well built and has a combination of precise steering and compliant ride quality.
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Features
A 1.4L TSI coupled with a standard 5-speed manual powers Jetta S, Jetta Wolfsburg Edition, and Jetta SE. However, it’s recommended to spend $1000 more and get the 6-speed automatic on these three trims. If you need more power, Jetta SE sport and Jetta SEL gets the 1.8L TSI with standard 6-speed Automatic Transmission. The Jetta GLI gets properly sporty with 2.0L TSI engine and sports suspension.
LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Rear View Camera System
Composition Color touchscreen sound system
16″ Linas alloy wheels
Keyless access with push-button start
VW Car-Net App-Connect
Power tilting/sliding sunroof
17″ black alloy wheels
Black-painted rear spoiler
Gloss black interior trim and black headliner
Dual-zone climate control
Discover Media touchscreen navigation
18″ Bathurst alloy wheels
V-Tex sport leatherette with red stitching
Too many to choose from? We help you find the best trim
Although the 1.8L TSI in Jetta SE sport is exciting, it slaps a huge 4 mpg penalty for just 20 hp more. That’s why we will stick with still satisfying but very efficient 1.4L TSI. The SE trim looks sensible to us as it has leatherette upholstery, 6.5-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and power sunroof for just $3000 more than base Jetta S.
If you need excitement, skip the 1.8L engine and go straight for the 2.0L TSI equipped Jetta GLI. The 210-hp 2.0L TSI delivers almost similar efficiency to the 1.8L TSI but produces 40 hp more power. It’s also a blast to drive through curvy roads thanks to its sportier suspension.
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Engine
The Volkswagen Jetta drives with a German character with precise well-weighted steering and composed high-speed manners. The three available TSI engines complement the chassis well too. The base 1.4L engine offers excellent efficiency and satisfying drive while the larger 1.8L TSI and 2.0L TSI engines offer more grunt. Chauffer driven owners will also appreciate the supple suspension.
“With three turbocharged engines and a balanced chassis, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta has a mature, almost sporty feel.” – Carconnection
The Jetta comes only with Front-Wheel drive drivetrain. The Jetta S, Jetta Wolfsburg Edition, and Jetta SE get base 1.4L TSI engine delivering 150-hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque. This engine gets a slick shifting standard 5-speed manual with a light clutch. Also, there is a 6-speed automatic available as an option. Although there are some occasional hiccups at slow speeds, it’s otherwise smooth and silky.
1.4-Liter, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine
2.0-Liter, 4-cylinder Engine
1.8-Liter 4-Cylinder Engine
1.4-Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder Engine
150 hp @ 5000 rpm
158 hp @ 6500 rpm
132 hp @ 6000 rpm
153 hp @ 5600 rpm
184 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm
138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
128 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
177 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Next up is the 1.8L TSI with 170-hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque. This engine comes exclusively with a 6-speed automatic. Although the 1.8L TSI provides 20-hp more than 1.4L TSI, the 4-mpg fuel efficiency penalty is not justifiable. If you need power, the 210-hp 2.0L TSI has it in abundance (this engine also powers the much more expensive Audi A3). It’s mated to a lightning fast 6-speed dual clutch automatic.
“All three of the Jetta’s powertrains are turbocharged four-cylinders. All of them are refined and satisfying, though only one is exciting.” – Car and Driver
All three turbocharged engines in the Jetta have a slight delay in power delivery at lower revs that quickly vanishes as the turbos spool up. While the base Jetta with 1.4L TSI engine performs just like other compact sedans here with 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds, the Jetta with 1.8L TSI ups the game.
16.3 sec @ 86.2 mph
16.7 @ 86.1 mph
17.4 sec @ 83 mph
16.2 @ 86 mph
1.4-Liter, inline 4-cylinder, 16V, turbocharged
1.8-Liter 4-Cylinder DOHC
1.4-Liter ECOTEC DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder
Emission(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
This renowned engine can accelerate the Jetta from 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds – fastest among the competitors. Then comes the sportiest Jetta – the Jetta GLI with a 210-hp turbocharged Inline-4 1.8L TSI engine. It performs like a sports sedan with a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds.
“Pop for the Jetta GLI and you’ll get the automaker’s excellent 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 210 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. This strong engine provides the Jetta with robust acceleration thanks to peak torque at just 1,700 rpm.” – Carconnection
Ride and Handling
The Volkswagen has replaced the earlier twist-beam rear suspension in the Jetta with independent multilink rear suspension resulting in a more composed ride quality. This is further aided by cushy 16-inch wheels in 1.4L TSI equipped Jetta. The steering has a German well-weighted feel giving it a grown-up character against other compact sedans and the long wheelbase aids high-speed stability.
“Volkswagen has been improving the Jetta’s driving dynamics since it launched this generation in 2011. An independent rear suspension is now standard for every model, contributing to the supple ride. ” – Car and Driver
The 17-inch wheels in the 1.8L TSI Jetta increase ride harshness without improving dynamics at all – another reason to avoid it. Although the Jetta GLI is considerably more expensive, its sports-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and wider stickier tires combined with its strong engine lend it a genuinely sporty character. We say it again – when in need for speed, jump straight to the GLI.
The Jetta gets 11.3-inch brake rotors in front wheels and 10.0-inch rotors in the rear wheels. The brake pedal feels light and has long travel. This combined with linear response makes smooth stops an easy affair. The Jetta stops from 60 mph in 123 feet – that’s better than average among the cars compared here. The sporty Jetta GLI gets larger brakes to contain the speeds it’s capable of.
“In our emergency braking test, the Jetta posted impressive performance for a small sedan. Around town, the brake pedal has a long-travel, low-effort feel.” – Edmunds
60-0 MPH (ft.)
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Fuel Economy
The Jetta 1.4 TSI with a manual transmission delivers excellent fuel efficiency even for this efficiency focused segment – 28 mpg in city and 40 mpg on highway. Adding automatic transmission to this engine decreases highway fuel economy figure by 2 mpg.
The Jetta 1.8 TSI imparts a huge 4 mpg penalty against the 1.4 TSI Jetta just for 20 hp more even with same automatic transmission. This is why we recommend the 2.0L TSI equipped Jetta GLI. Even with its 40 hp bump in power, it delivers similar fuel economy to the 1.8 TSI. This impressive efficiency can be attributed to the dual clutch transmission.
“The 1.8-liter engine on Jetta SE Sport and SEL variants is an older design and guzzles a lot more fuel despite only adding 20 horsepower. It’s rated at 24/33/28 mpg with the mandatory automatic transmission.” – Carconnection
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Interior
The Volkswagen Jetta’s spacious interiors and the largest trunk in class may make you believe you are sitting in a midsize sedan. The great outward visibility just adds to the airy feeling. However, it’s miserly appointed and there are plenty of hard plastics – the competitors feel decidedly more upscale. Build quality is as solid as expected from a German product though.
“The Jetta’s interior feels minimalist and clean, with DNA from its European cousin Audi.” – Kelley Blue Book
Seating and Comfort
The Jetta interior has one thing in abundance – space. In fact, the Jetta is second only to the Toyota Corolla in terms of rear seat legroom and the large rear doors make ingress and egress easier (and elegant). That said, the headroom is average in the class. While the base Jetta S comes with basic fabric upholstery, all other Jetta get leatherette draped interiors.
“The Jetta’s generous size would be the reason to consider this car, especially in one of its less expensive lower trims. Quite simply, this is one of the most affordable ways to get a new family-friendly sedan.” – Edmunds
Passenger Volume(ft cube)
Impressively, heated front seats are optional in base Jetta S and standard on all other trims. However, you will find the interior a bit too conservative. There is not much feel-good factor and the abundance of hard plastics may bother you. The competitors decidedly feel more upscale. The build quality and fit are flawless though.
After the expansive rear seats, the cavernous 15.7 cubic feet trunk capacity continue to impress and the low lift height makes loading the luggage convenient. However, like the plain interiors, the trunk lid also lacks cladding.
“At 15.5 cubic feet, the Jetta’s trunk is as big as that of a midsize sedan.” – Kelley Blue Book
Trunk volume (ft.cube)
The infotainment system is mounted lower on the dashboard in Jetta. While the base Jetta S gets a 5.0-inch infotainment, the Jetta SE and higher trims get 6.3-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The touchscreen has crisp graphics and offers quick response. The Jetta SEL and GLI with fender premium audio system cater to the audiophiles.
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
The Volkswagen Jetta gets an unmistakably German looks with clean lines and very conservative styling. This is one of the few compact cars that offer easy and elegant access to the rear seats thanks to the large rear gates. Its understated charm will definitely impress you if you long for those large expensive German saloons.
“While the Jetta may not scream, “Look at me,” it will stand the test of time better than a fair share of its rivals.”- Kelley Blue Book
Dimension and Weight
The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta measures 182.2 inch in length – that’s comparable to other compact cars. However, its shortest in-class wheelbase is surprising as the Jetta offers among the best in class rear seat legroom. At 2939 pounds, the Jetta is also one of the heaviest compact cars.
Track width(in) F/R
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Safety
The Volkswagen Jetta now gets standard backup camera. The list of available active safety features includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Blond-Spot Monitor, Forward Collision Warning and more.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), and Engine Brake Assist (EBA)
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA)
Driver and front passenger, front and side thorax airbag supplemental restraint system
Crash-optimized front end
Side Curtain Protection head airbags, front, and rear
Front safety belts, height-adjustable, with pretensioners and load limiters
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child seat anchor points
Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta received the best possible rating from IIHS – Top Safety Pick +. That’s a testament to the crashworthiness of the Jetta. Since the 2018 Jetta has superficial changes, it will also perform excellently in a crash.
Small overlap front driver side
Small overlap front passenger side
Moderate overlap front
Head restraints & seats
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating overall
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Competition
Volkswagen Jetta vs Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is frequently called the best available compact car and for good reasons. It magically blends terrific fuel economy with enthusiastic engine. It rides comfortably and offers corner craving dynamics as well. Its interior is attractive and feature loaded and it’s priced competently too. However, the Jetta is more spacious and many appreciate its understated looks at age well.
Volkswagen Jetta vs Toyota Corolla
The Corolla is the car that defines compact-car segment and has the distinction of best-selling car in the world. The reason is simple – immense practicality, bulletproof reliability, sofa-like rear seats with unbelievable legroom for a compact car and excellent value for money. It’s a perfect point A to B tool.
Volkswagen Jetta vs Chevy Cruze
The Chevy Cruze is one of the cushiest and most refined compact car available. It also gets plenty of upscale features as standard and there is even a turbodiesel engine on offer – at a cost. However, the Jetta is decidedly more fun-to-drive and offers exceptionally spacious rear seats. Still, if you need a comfortable and feature loaded compact car, the Cruze is an excellent choice.
2018 Volkswagen Jetta Final Verdict
The Volkswagen Jetta has carved a niche for itself among the playful crop of compact cars with its uniquely German understated looks, solid build quality and composed driving manners. It has precise handling and all three turbocharged TSI engines offer delightfully smooth performance. Most distinctively, the current Jetta offers expansive rear seats and largest in the class trunk.
However, the Jetta lacks any of the wow factor offered by the competition. Although the interior is usable and conveniently laid out, it’s too bland with plenty of hard plastics. Same goes for exterior – it’s very conservative. However, if this simplicity and functional approach impress you and if you are okay with buying a Volkswagen product after all the dieselgate drama and DSG reliability issues, buy one.
Oh wait, an all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is also on the way based on latest MLB platform promising improved dynamics and updated feature list. But if you are not willing to wait that long, you do have one advantage – dealers are providing attractive offers on the current 2018 Jetta as its going out of production.