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The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta is the brand's best-selling car in the U.S., and VW has given the Jetta a number of significant upgrades for the compact four-door sedan's fifth model year. New gasoline and diesel engines are more fuel-efficient and new active-safety features have been added, while VW has refreshed the interior and mildly updated a few styling cues on the outside. The goal is make the Jetta a better value against increasingly tough competition from newer compact sedans.
The 2015 Jetta's mission is wide-ranging: It has to squeeze in what might be the most usable amount of interior space in the compact class; deliver an impressive sweet spot of performance, refinement, and fuel economy; and pack in plenty of features, all while keeping the price point in the mid-$20,000 range. Somehow, the Jetta accomplishes all of that, while a multitude of powertrains allows it to be all things to almost all people. At least those shopping for compact cars, anyhow.
One thing hasn't changed: If you want style and flair in a compact sedan, you'd probably be better served going for a model like the Dodge Dart, Mazda3, or Ford Focus. The Jetta's refresh brings a few subtle changes to the front and rear fascia, which VW claims should improve the Jetta's aerodynamics, but it's still one of the more conservatively styled options in the segment.
At the rear, there's a new trunk lid with an integrated aerodynamic trailing edge, and GLI and Hybrid models get newly optional LED taillights. The rear-end changes give the car a conspicuous premium look, as it resembles very closely the current Audi A4. The car's interior has also been updated with a new steering wheel and revised infotainment and climate controls.
Most Jetta models will be powered either by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (1.8T) or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel (TDI). Both models now receive an active radiator shutter that closes to shorten engine warm-up times and also reduce aerodynamic drag when extra cooling isn't needed. The diesel engine in the TDI models is a new unit, and VW anticipates that engine will deliver an EPA highway rating of 45 or 46 mpg, which nearly closes the gap between diesel- and hybrid-powered Jetta models. The anemic naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four returns to the lineup in base models.
The Jetta Hybrid is also expected to carry over, with its 1.4-liter turbocharged four, hybrid system, and additional battery pack—all adding up to a car that's more fun to drive than a Prius, albeit not quite as efficient. And the GLI, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four and sportier demeanor, will continue as the Jetta that packs the most fun. The Hybrid and GLI models are expected to go on sale early in 2015.
The 2015 Jetta is still so spacious, it barely squeezes into the compact class. A great driving position, the back-seat space of a mid-size sedan, and obvious German heritage throughout, from the first turn of the steering wheel: It's all part of the experience in the Jetta, which is one of the most livable and refined of its kind.
The other important news for 2015 is that VW has decided to bring some of its advanced-tech features and active-safety equipment to the U.S.; previously, these expensive items were only available in Europe and other overseas markets. Blind-spot detection, frontal collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert are all newly available this year. Shoppers interested in well-equipped models will have the option of adding bi-xenon headlamps with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, which were previously exclusive to GLI and Hybrid Jetta trims. We're glad to see the inclusion of these technologies, seen in many luxury cars, because when this Jetta generation was launched in 2011 it fell victim to U.S.-centric cost-cutting that denied our market of many of the premium-feeling materials and features available on Jettas elsewhere.
One other Jetta program note: For 2015, the SportWagen gives up its Jetta name, with an all-new SportWagen now becoming part of the Golf lineup. It had always been based on the Golf platform, so Golf SportWagen is a more honest name, even if the change might throw some consumers.
- Sweet handling
- Diesel, hybrid, 1.8 turbo all have great fuel economy
- Spacious back seat
- A contemporary look, still
- Trunk is very large
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Looks conservative in its class
- Prices escalate quickly
- Nav system is subpar
- Base four-cylinder's a skipper