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2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T Review by John Heilig



Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4
ENGINE: 1.4-liter DOHC turbocharged I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 150 hp @ 5,000 rpm/184 lb.-ft. @ 1,400 rpm
WHEELBASE: 104.4 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 183.3 x 70.0 x 57.2 in.
TIRES: P205/55R16
CARGO: 15.7 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32.6 omg test
FUEL TANK: 14.5 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,025 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Audi A3, Chevrolet Cruse, Ford Focus
STICKER: $23,145 (includes $820 delivery)
BOTTOM LINE: In a crowded field of tinny compact cars, the Volkswagen Jetta stands out with its solidity and comfort.

There are compact cars and there are compact cars. While most of the cars in the segment are Asian, the Teutonic Volkswagen Jetta stands out. Where slamming the doors in some other cars may be a risk because you fear it may fall apart, the Jetta has a solid sound when you shut the door. No, it isn’t a Rolls-Royce, but is also isn’t your normal econobox.

Dimensionally, the Jetta stands out as well. It feels as if there is more passenger volume than some other cars we have driven. This is borne out with very good rear seat legroom, that rivals many mid-size cars. But, although VW claims the Jetta is a five-seater, there’s no way a middle passenger in the back could find comfort with that tall center hump in the rear.

Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four that replaces the 2.0-liter four in last year’s model. It delivers a respectable 150 horses fairly quietly to the front wheels and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. This results in very good acceleration from stop signs and when merging into traffic. I have one stop sign where there is a blind right-hand turn for the cars coming toward me and I often have to tromp on the pedal to make it onto the road safely. The Jetta did a great job for me. With my old full-size van, however, there were time when I would pull out and have to immediately pull off the road to allow oncoming speedsters to move on.

Ride quality and handling are good under most normal conditions, although I must admit we didn’t stress the Jetta too much. While we hit a variety of roads from Interstate to local to-the-supermarket roads, we did stay away from more difficult roads. The Jetta rides and drives more like a mid-size than a compact.

Jetta underwent a 2015 redesign that didn’t change the character of the car that much. It is still a Jetta and conforms to the VW family style (excluding the Beetle, of course). Again, in a segment of fairly similar cars, there’s no denying that the Jetta is a German car and a VW to boot.

Volkswagen has installed its new MIB II 5.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the Jetta. MIB II supports Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link with USB and VW-Car Net App-Connect (available by subscription). With this extensive menu, just about any type of entertainment the driver and passengers might want is available. We, however, stuck with the radio and felt the sound quality was excellent.

The Jetta has an interesting stop/start system. The “normal” key slot is plugged, and even though a key is av bailable on the fob, it isn’t used. There’s a pushbutton start/stop just ahead off the shifter on the center console.

The driver grips a fat flat-bottomed wheel with cruise switches, audio and information panel choices. The instrument panel is basic, with a tachometer, information panel, and speedometer.

For heating and cooling, there is a set of three knobs for temperature, fan speed and air direction. It takes some getting used to but once learned it is easy.

The front seats offer good support in the kidney area as fellas in the seat. Of course, there is the requisite pair of cupholders on the center console and room for water bottles in all four doors. The pull-down armrest between the outboard rear seats holds a pair of cupholders as well. There is also a pass-through to the trunk when you pull down the arm rest.

The trunk is a good size at 15.7 cubic feet. The rear seat backs can be folded flat to accommodate more cargo is wanted. Releases for the rear seat backs are located in the trunk.

Overall, the Jetta has a solid feel and ride quality that belies its size. It’s a compact that wants to be a mid-size.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

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