Heels On Wheels 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
A longstanding fixture in the Volkswagen lineup, the Jetta injected Fahrvergnugen into the sedan market that ultimately turned this commuter ride into an iconic drive. Yet somewhere along the line – roughly in 2011 – the vehicle fell from grace by trying to be more affordable, which sadly translated to cheaper materials and lackluster base model power. The 2014 model year attempts to regain lost status with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
I drove a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta with the new turbocharged 170-horsepower 1.8-liter TSI engine matched to a five-speed manual transmission. My SE trim test drive – a more modest choice dressed up with a few optional packages – came with the following standard equipment: s six-speaker sound system; V-Tex leatherette upholstery; partial power front seats; XM Radio; a Media Device Interface screen; and sixteen-inch wheels. Price as described came to $18,895.
For 2014, the new turbocharged1.8-liter engine is the main headliner along with the availability of VW Car-Net connected services. Competition depends upon what smaller sedans can push great style – the Kia Optima for example – or a range of powertrain choice such as the Chevrolet Cruze.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The black leatherette upholstery and steering wheel give the interior some gloss, but I can name half a dozen compact competitors that outshine the Jetta with sleeker center stack designs and more quality-oriented materials throughout. The Media Device Interface is just a smallish digital readout screen – my trim lacked a navigation option, with the only packages for the SE being the in-car connectivity features and sunroof for a total vehicle cost of $22,065. Credit goes to the truck space with a wide enough opening to easily fit awkward-shaped objects like large tricycles. Rear loading for car seats and kids is another high point with sufficient legroom for the front passenger.
Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety equipment includes Intelligent Crash Response System, front and rear disc brakes, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and anti-slip regulation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2014 VW Jetta ratings of “Good” in all areas omitting the small overlap front which earned a score of just “Marginal.” You can view crash test images for the Jetta on their website. It is not yet rated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Cost Issues: One of the highlights of the Jetta is its affordability at a base cost of $16,720 – but this only gets you the 115-horspower 2-liter four-cylinder engine with power mirrors, keyless entry and a CD player as the most exciting standard equipment. If you want a Jetta with all the proper fixings like a decent performing engine, navigation, an upgraded Fender sound system and nicer seventeen-inch wheels, a TDI Clean Diesel Jetta can cost $26,315. The Hybrid SE runs $27,260 and the sportier GLI Autobahn with the extras is $28,495.
Activity & Performance Ability: One of the attractions – as well as downfalls – to the Jetta is the array of engine choices. You can opt for the all-new turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that was gutsy and delivered (although the manual transmission was rough); a 140-horsepower 2-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine; a 210-horsepower 2-liter TSI engine with a sportier steering wheel and suspension; or a hybrid with a 170-horsepower 1.4-liter gas-powered four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor. Rear visibility is limited due to rear seat construction, making this a tough sedan to park; you’d have to opt for the rearview camera available on the SEL and up so you’re now looking at $25,590 for the Jetta just to get this feature.
The Green Concern: The 1.8-liter turbo gets 23-city/33-highway while the TDI Clean Diesel gets 30-city/42-highway and the Hybrid 42-city/48-highway.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
Once a token of poise and prestige, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta still feels shed of cutting edge design, finer interior materials and basic technology. The addition of an all-new turbocharged engine definitely steers this sedan in the right direction, but too many engine choices and packaging discord can make your final selection difficult, an ultimately not as affordable as hoped.
©2013 Katrina Ramser