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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Five stars overall; four front impact protection, five stars side impact
Top Safety Pick; 'marginal,' small overlap frontal
There's also no ESP-disable button.
The Jetta may not have all of the latest safety gadgets on its order sheet, but it has solid ratings from both of the agencies that crash-test cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that both the Jetta sedan and SportWagen belong on its Top Safety Pick list. One caveat: the sedan has had a preview of the new small-overlap test, and its performance is deemed just "marginal", a rating that prevents it from being named a Top Safety Pick+.
Thanks to an improved side-impact result, the 2014 VW Jetta sedans now get a five-star Overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), placing it in the company of the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, and Toyota Corolla, among others.
Six airbags are standard on every Jetta, including dual front, side and curtain airbags. So are stability control and anti-lock brakes; active headrests; and tire pressure monitors. The Jetta also features a crash-response system that turns off the fuel and turns on the flashers after an airbag deploys.
One advantage to the Jetta's upright sedan profile is good outward visibility. The rear roof pillars are tall, the rear-seat headrests are low, and the glass area is large--all of it adding out to better rear and three-quarter visibility than in, say, the more elongated and swoopy Hyundai Elantra compact sedan. But the rearview camera feature is restricted to the more expensive versions, and no Jetta offers blind-spot detection or parking proximity sensors, even as options.
The Jetta earns the IIHS' Top Safety Pick award, but the NHTSA hasn't released full 2014 data yet.