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FEATURES | 8 out of 10
The base Jetta S …is the only Jetta model that comes with cloth seats.
VW insists that its "leatherette" (textured vinyl), perforated to let your backside breathe, is just as handsome and comfortable. It did seem more than OK in our drives.
…we saddled up in an SEL-spec (with sunroof) tester…Keep your hands off the dash and on the wheel, and the experience is remarkably more pleasant, but at $23,395, it better be.
There appears to be no option for an upgraded stereo system, HID xenon headlights, or leather seats -- although the leatherette on the SE and SEL models is very nice.
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta sedan range has six separate models, with a careful progression from low-cost entry-level up through the specialized GLI and new Hybrid models at the top of the range. This year, VW has added features to selected sedan models to address some of the perceptual issues around its slightly cheap-looking interior. The Jetta SportWagen continues with few changes, starting at a price significantly higher than the Jetta sedan that's the volume model.
For 2013, all Jetta models come with four-wheel disc brakes, which were previously fitted only to high-line versions.
The base Jetta S sedan comes with the old, slow 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; cloth seats; and an audio system that comprises AM-FM-CD player plus a single auxiliary jack. This model is the price leader and the lure to get budget-minded buyers into the showroom, and it starts at just $16,675 plus delivery. Options include a center console, cruise control, a sunroof, and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The mid-level Jetta SE model can be ordered with the 2.0-liter four or upgraded to the more popular 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder. It starts at $18,995 plus delivery, and comes with vinyl upholstery; a center console; cruise control; a glovebox lock; floor mats; and a satellite radio with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. For 2013, the SE adds leather wrapping for the steering wheel, parking-brake handle, and shift knob; a powered recline function for the front seats; and chrome-trimmed interior switches and knobs. It also adds chrome trim for the grille and windows. Add the Sunroof package, and you get not only the retractable glass roof but also touchscreen controls for the audio system as well.
Then there's the high-end Jetta SEL model, which for 2013 gets standard two-tone interior trim, a soft-touch dash, and a power driver's seat. It adds to the SE spec 17-inch wheels; pushbutton start; keyless entry; and fog lamps. Its standard audio is a 400-Watt Fender system that includes Panasonic speakers and a sub-woofer that can rattle its rear package shelf. You can order the sunroof on this one too, as well as a Sport package with tighter suspension tuning, metallic trim, and more pronounced seat bolstering.
The 2013 Jetta TDI diesel sedan comes with the trim package of the SE, but it will get the SEL's standard soft-touch dash later in the model year. It also adds the dual-clutch transmission as an option, as well as the touchscreen navigation system. Base prices starts at $22,990, and with a heavy hand on the options list, this one can reach $28,000.
The sporty Jetta GLI is powered by the turbocharged 2.0-liter four, with a six-speed manual gearbox standard and an optional seven-speed DSG transmission with paddle controls. Standard features includes 17-inch wheels; red-painted calipers for the disc brakes; red-stitched sport bucket seats; aluminum pedals and interior trim; fog lamps; and a steering wheel with a flat bottom and red detailing. Two different 18-inch alloy wheels can be ordered as options, along with dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, the Fender audio system, and the sunroof. For 2013, the GLI adds launch control, a rearview camera, and bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights. The Jetta GLI starts just under $24,000, and can top $27,000 with delivery included--and it still doesn't offer leather seats (or even a grippier cloth-seat option).
Lastly for the sedans, there's the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid. It's base-priced at the top of the range, at $24,995--fully $2,000 more than the diesel TDI model. But with data showing that hybrid buyers are older and more affluent than diesel buyers, VW feels this is the right place for the hybrid--and it comes with essentially the full SEL trim level as standard.
For the Jetta SportWagen, on a platform now nearing a decade old, there are fewer trim levels and a lesser options list. The base model comes with all-season tires on its 16-inch alloy wheels; air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, locks, and mirrors; a tilting-and-telescoping adjustable steering wheel; power front seats; and a trip computer. The standard audio system has AM, FM, and CD capabilities, but Bluetooth connectivity is standard. Options include 17-inch wheels and a sunroof; the more expensive TDI wagon adds additional options, including pushbutton start, keyless entry, and a touchscreen navigation system, all of which can take its price up to around $30,000.
VW limits some features and doesn't offer others, leaving it a bit behind the most advanced, luxurious compact cars.