2017 Volkswagen Jetta Review


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2017 Volkswagen Jetta Overview

The concept of a compact sedan doesn’t always conjure up images of the highest-quality vehicles. In fact, it probably makes most people think of bare-bones commuter cars. But not all compacts need be “appliances" that serve up about as much excitement as a refrigerator. Cars like the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta deliver daily drivability with much more style and panache than you can find in other corners of the compact sedan market.

Incredibly, the Jetta has been in production since 1979, with the current-generation model arriving for the 2011 model year and carrying over to 2017. It has more straight lines and sharper angles than the models that preceded it, and almost visually reaches to the styling of third- and fourth-generation models. This clean styling gives the Jetta a substantial feel that is echoed in the 5-passenger cabin. Too often, automakers have fallen victim to the need to make the interiors of their cars overly busy, as if outfitting the command deck of a spacecraft. Simplicity makes for features and controls that you can operate when it's dark out or by using only your peripheral vision.

Trims for the Jetta are the S, SE, and SEL. The standard climate control system consists of three simple dials–for temperature, fan speed, and fan direction. It also incorporates other features that blend simplicity and style, including standard equipment such as a multi-function steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a 5-inch color touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity with streaming audio, and a USB smartphone connection.

The SE trims come with 16-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, heated front seats, a 6.33-inch touchscreen with the Composition media system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and VW App Connect. App Connect lets you link smartphone apps for streaming music and voice-controlled text-message composition.

The range-topping SEL provides standard features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers, Bi-Xenon HID headlights with attractive LED inserts, daytime running lights, ambient interior lighting, and the Discover Media navigation system. This touchscreen system has “pop-up” menu items, where certain buttons disappear from the screen when not being used; when you bring your hand up to the screen, the system detects it and brings those buttons back for use. The SE and SEL have V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, which lend a smart, upscale look to the cabin. The Jetta is also available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which include voice-controlled text messaging, apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Podcasts, and even your phone’s navigation capabilities.

The standard engine on the Jetta is a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (I4) that makes 150 hp, sent to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with manual and sport modes. Also available is a 1.8-liter turbocharged I4 making 170 hp, sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic. For the more sporting sedan buyers, the Jetta GLI is offered. This vehicle has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 210-hp I4, sending power to the front wheels through either a slick-shifting 6-speed manual or VW’s advanced 6-speed DSG direct-shift gearbox, with the sport and manual-shift modes.

A Jetta Hybrid was sold up through 2016 but has been discontinued for ’17.

Fuel economy for the 2017 Jetta has not yet been announced, but expect it to be close to 2016 fuel-economy numbers. The base 1.4-liter with the 5-speed manual achieves 28 mpg city/40 highway/33 combined. The 1.8-liter manual gets 25/37/29, while the GLI with the manual returns 23/33/27.

Standard safety features include a full complement of front- and side-impact airbags, electronic stability control, and hydraulic brake assist. The Jetta also comes standard with a post-collision braking system, which was devised under the notion that few collisions are ever isolated and there is a high chance of a secondary impact; this system automatically applies the brakes when the airbags are deployed, reducing the chance of any secondary impact.

An available Driver Assistance Package adds some peace of mind with forward collision warning with autonomous braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, which can sense if cars are approaching from out of your line of sight while backing up.

Pricing for the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta has not yet been announced, but expect it to be similar to pricing for 2016, which ranges from a base MSRP of $17,680 to $24,645 for the SEL and $26,920 for the GLI.

From the base 1.4-liter to the racy GLI, the Jetta brings much more than just everyday convenience to your compact daily driver. Sitting behind the wheel of a Jetta is generally a better experience than in the average commuter car, and with plenty of standard and available features, the Jetta can back up its upscale look with terrific technology and comfort.


From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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