Engine: 1.4-liter TSI DOHC turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Torque: 184 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 30/city, 40/highway, 34/combined
Base price: $22,155
As tested: $23,005
Overview: The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan is as well-mannered on the highway as it is fun to drive on winding two-lane blacktops — as we found out on a recent trip to Atlanta, where our friends at Prestige Auto Specialists provided us with a Jetta SE. The small, 1.4-liter powerplant delivered surprising performance, and it handled better than expected.
Walkaround: The conservative styling is more evolutionary than groundbreaking, with clean and elegant, but crisp lines. The sheetmetal sits atop a sophisticated platform similar to the Golf and other VW models. There are five Jetta trim levels: S, SE, R-Line, SEL and SEL Premium, plus three GLI versions available. Our test driver was the SE, and this review will focus on that model only. Alloy wheels and full LED lighting are now standard, as is active-safety technology on all Jettas, except the S trim — which can be similarly equipped by adding the optional $450 Driver Assistance package.
Interior: The Jetta makes good use of its interior space, featuring finished looks and a solid feel. The synthetic-leather front seats are firm and nicely bolstered. Two adults can easily sit in back, and wide rear doors give occupants easy access. Rear legroom tops that of typical small cars. The dashboard is driver-focused, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apply CarPlay/Android Auto and analog instrumentation. At 14.1 cubic feet, trunk capacity is adequate for a midsize sedan.
Behind the Wheel: The 2019 VW Jetta has a docile personality, and had no trouble keeping up with traffic on I-75, where the 70-mph speed limit is a mere suggestion, and often flowed nearer to 90. From our base in Gray, Georgia, to our destination of SunTrust Park in North Atlanta, we had 21 miles of winding, twisting, two-lane blacktop to navigate between Gray and I-75 — both ways — on four different trips. The Jetta handled the two-lane well, with tight steering and excellent braking — especially in sport mode. It’s an excellent highway cruiser as well, thanks to its 40-mpg fuel economy on the interstate. The soft suspension yields a comfortable, reasonably quiet ride.
Bottom Line: Well-built, competent, solid, spacious and comfortable, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is simply one excellent value.