Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 VW Jetta/Jetta GLI: The Brand’s German-Engineered Compact Sedans

Highlight: In the hyper-competitive compact segment, this is the only vehicle that includes free maintenance for 2 years or 24,000 miles.

Test Vehicles MSRP:

Base: $18,500
SEL: $24,470
GLI: $31,200

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; Daytime Running Lights; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (Base Model): 15-inch wheels; manual adjustable front seats; cloth seats; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a 5-speed manual transmission; a 5-inch touchscreen; cruise control; an electronic speed steering system; 60/40 split folding rear seats; and a pre-wired theft alarm system

Standard Equipment (1.8 Turbo SEL): 17-inch wheels; automatic transmission; electronic stability control; body folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals; automatic headlights; fog lights; power sunroof; heated power side mirrors; front and rear carpeted floor mats; rain sensing wipers with heated washer nozzles; a/c; heated front seats; leather-like seats; rear seat center armrest with cupholders; sun visors with illuminated mirrors; a rearview camera; 6.3-inch touchscreen; a navigation system; HD radio; satellite radio; and smartphone integration

Standard Equipment (2.0 Turbo GEL): 18-inch wheels; a 210-horsepower engine; a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission; a sport suspension system; a 6-speaker premium audio system; adaptive bi-Xenon headlamps; concerning headlights; LED headlights/taillights; GLI trim package; red brake calipers; dual zone automatic climate control; paddle shifter on steering wheel; cooled glove compartment; a park distance control system; a blind spot detection with a rear traffic alert system; an automatic post-collision braking system; a push-button keyless ignition system; a power driver’s seat; and an automatic dimming rearview mirror

Options: None

Other Trim Levels:


Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 4-speaker with AM/FM/CD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Standard

USB Connectivity: Depending on trim

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder turbo/150-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: The VW Jetta went through a major overhaul in 2015, while the Jetta GLI received its bold and sporty upgrades during the 2016 model year. For the 2016 model year, all Jettas will be available with two turbo engines. The 2.0-liter non turbo has been dropped for the model year.

Why: In a time period where many automakers have shifted toward sexy curves to flank the exterior and interior of the vehicle, VW has shied away from such, taking more of a traditional approach. With its conservative design and basic interior layout, the 2016 continues to be available in a variety of trims. Buyers can opt for either a manual or an automatic transmission.

Depending on the trim, the Jetta can be outfitted with such optional features as a frontal collision warning system, an electronic blind spot lane changing system, an automatic forward braking system and a rear back up camera with a cross traffic alert system. There is also a new optional driver’s assistance package that consist of a radar activated cruise control system, a forward warning collision system and autonomous braking

Moreover, the higher level trims now incorporate the latest connectivity, too. This feature includes USB connectivity and VW Car-Net App, which integrates iPhones and smartphones.

And for those stepping up to the GLI, they can expect a sportier and bolder looking Jetta. The GLI, which is the sedan version of the Golf GTI, offers more horsepower, a sports tuned suspension system, larger tires and a variety of advanced safety driving features.

So there is a Jetta to fit every budget and price, as long as a diesel isn’t on the shopping list.

But: Folks in the market for a compact may not realize the Jetta competes in the segment. It’s sort of a tweener, being that it’s larger than most compacts, but smaller than such midsize vehicles as the Honda Accord, the Chevy Malibu and the Toyota Camry.

And pricing for the German-engineered VW starts out higher than other compacts in the segment. While we don’t have a definitive answer, we think it is due to the vehicle’s German heritage, which automatically adds on a premium. However, it’s hard to justify these days when put up against the Honda Civic and Chevy Cruise.

Also so with the recent fuss of the diesel debacle with the brand, folks might steer clear of VW. However, the issue impacts diesels, not the gasoline models. So, for those looking for a diesel (or a hybrid after the 2016 model year), you might have to look elsewhere. VW is pulling the plug on the Jetta hybrid. And we’re still not sure of VW plans as it relates to producing diesel engines in the near future.

Lastly, the VW’s have definitely been decontented over the years. Electronic brakes, which are now available on the Chevy Cruze, are no longer available on the Jetta. In an effort to cut costs, the current generation Jetta has steered clear of some of the German touches that made this compact a standout.

Verdict:  These days most of the recently restyled compacts offer something that is exclusive to their brand. Chevy has a stop-and start gas saving feature, Hyundai has a radar-activated trunk, while Honda offers a visual lane changing system, which is integrated into the rearview camera. Jetta sets itself apart from its competitors by offering a larger vehicle, German instrument gauges and a German-tuned suspension system, when one steps up to the reworked 2016 GLI. So, while most folks who buy a Jetta will probably never cross shop most of the competitors in the segment, this vehicle is for those who want a traditionally style vehicle, which offers most of the latest high-tech safety and connectivity features.

Competition: 2017 Hyundai Elantra; 2016 Chevy Cruze; 2016 Ford Focus; 2016 Dodge Dart; 2016 Honda Civic; 2016 Nissan Sentra; 2016 Kia Forte; 2016 Mazda3; 2016 Subaru Impreza; and 2016 Toyota Corolla


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