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2019 Volkswagen Jetta SE Review by John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atalntic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SE

ENGINE: 1.4-liter turbocharged 4

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 147 hp @ 5,000 rpm/184 lb.-ft. @ 1,400 rpm

WHEELBASE: 105.7 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 185.1 x 70.8 x 57.4 in.

TIRES: P205/60R16

CARGO CAPACITY: 14.1 cu. ft.

ECONOMY: 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway/48.1 mpg test

FUEL TANK: 13.2 gal.

CURB WEIGHT: 2,970 lbs.

TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended

COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Hissan Sentra

STICKER: $23,005 (includes $850 delivery)

BOTTOM LINE: Just as the famed Volkswagen Beetle has died, so the redesigned Jetta may be posed to take its place, but with better economy from a stronger engine and more interior room.

Compact cars these days are trending toward smaller engines that are turbo/supercharged in an effort to improve fuel economy while not detracting from the needed power. It often doesn’t work.

The Volkswagen Jetta, on the other hand, seems to have it right. The engine is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four rated at 147 horsepower. This is good power for a car that weighs 2,970 pounds, and we had no power issues in more than 500 miles of driving.

I confess that the great majority of those miles were on long trips with considerable Interstate usage. I issue this caveat because we averaged a phenomenal 48.1 miles per gallon. Not only was our economy outstanding, but ride quality was very good. On good road surfaces - asphalt - there was almost no road noise transmitted into the cabin. Concrete road surfaces were a different issue.

The Jetta is hard-sprung, so you also feel all the little road imperfections. While these don’t contribute to a harsh ride, they do detract. The Jetta uses a strut-type front suspension with lower control arms and long-travel coil springs. At the back, there is a torsion beam setup with telescopic dampers.

We traveled to our daughter’s house and, naturally, brought food supplies along with our luggage. My golf clubs were also included. The clubs fit neatly horizontally in the trunk, leaving plenty of room for all the other goodies. there was no need to lower the rear seat backs for extra cargo capacity, but I did anyway to reduce the stuffing component. With the seat backs lowered, there’s a “frame” around the trunk opening that restricts space somewhat. I’m sure this metal helps strengthen the chassis.

My biggest complaint with the Jetta was with the trunk lid. If you didn’t make the extra effort to open it to its full gap, it had a tendency to drop down and whack you in the head. It definitely needs a stronger strut to hold it up.

Front seats are comfortable, if firm. Our tester had manual seats that were slightly difficult to adjust for maximum comfort. However, since we only had one driver, once we had it set there was no need to change it. Rear seats offer decent legroom and are more comfortable than the fronts. Sadly, there is no rear seat HVAC, so passengers back there must rely on the kindness of the front passengers.

Speaking of heating and cooling, we found the air conditioner to work like a charm, and the weather demanded it.

The driver faces a clear instrument panel with a digital speedometer chosen as the information panel display. Our infotainment was basic with a Bluetooth radio along with AM and FM.

Interior storage consisted of a large cubby at the base of the center stack, a medium-sized console/arm rest and room for water in the doors.

I’ll admit that some of the amenities in our tester were basic - seats, audio, etc. But, to compensate, the sticker price is outstanding, as is the economy. Many compacts can’t pass the comfort test on long rides, but the Jetta also did that in spades.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate

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