The latest VW Jetta has a dual mission: to win over compact buyers with its super size and newly trim base price, and to keep Volkswagen fans in the fold with the alterna-flavored GLI and TDI models.
The problem: inexpensive compacts like the Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra that offer much more in the way of bargain pricing and features, and even reputations for durability, with admittedly much less driving excitement factored in the sticker price.
The Jetta's a lot like the Suzuki Kizashi, an almost invisible entry in the segment with available all-wheel drive and a suave interior, but not much outright performance and a perception that it's smaller inside than it really is.
The next size class above the Jetta pits the VW against cars like the 35-mpg Hyundai Sonata, the wildly styled, psychographic opposite to the calm, collected German, and the Subaru Legacy, a big sedan that bests the Jetta for interior room and equals its sure-footed feel.
|2012 Volkswagen Jetta SedanBrowse Used Listings||2012 Hyundai ElantraBrowse Used Listings||2012 Hyundai SonataBrowse Used Listings||2012 Kia ForteBrowse Used Listings||2012 Suzuki KizashiBrowse Used Listings|
|23 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy||28 MPG City / 38 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 39 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy||20 MPG City / 31 MPG Hwy|
|N/A||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4|
|N/A||Midsize cars||Large Cars||Compact Cars||Compact|
|4-Door Automatic SEL||4-Door Sedan Manual GLS (Alabama Plant)||4-Door Sedan 2.4L Manual GLS||4-Door Sedan Manual LX||4-Door Sedan Manual FWD S|
|N/A||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive|
|N/A||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan|