Last week the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave its top accolade to the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta—after the Jetta aced a retest in one particularly demanding area. And that now makes it one of the safest compact sedans if you shop by the ratings.
While the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta hasn't yet been updated with the automaker's latest MQB platform, which the new 2015 Golf is built on, the Jetta has received some significant upgrades to earn that better safety rating this year than last year.
A-pillars and door sills were strengthened for 2015, and Volkswagen added an available forward collision warning package, as part of the Driver Assistance package. That feature addition allows the Jetta to earn a 'Basic' rating for front crash prevention—now necessary to earn Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) status.
With those structural improvements, the 2015 VW Jetta earned a much-improved 'good' score for small overlap frontal impact—indicating a lower chance of injury in a relatively common type of real-world crash, when the front end of the vehicle contacts a relatively narrow object like a tree, a utility pole, the end of a barrier, or the corner of another vehicle.
The same set of 'good' ratings are earned by the 2014 Jetta in most categories, although its small overlap frontal scores were a much more worrisome 'marginal.'
It's worth pointing out that the Jetta's U.S. ratings aren't perfect—not even now. The model continues to earn a five-star overall rating in federal crash tests, as well as five stars for side impact, although it gets a four-star frontal score.
The IIHS classifies the Jetta as a mid-size car, though it most closely aligns with models like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Toyota Corolla. Of all the models in that class, other than the 2015 Jetta, only the 2014 Honda Civic and 2014 Mazda3 currently achieve Top Safety Pick Plus status.