2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Review: Good Value For The Money

2019 Jetta   SEL 8121 750x400 - 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Review: Good Value For The Money
92
Good
Overall Impression
Ambient lights are a nice touch.
Good value for the money overall.
High performance variant would be nice.
Pros
Spacious Cabin
Solid Handling
Smooth Transmission
Cons
Engine Power (At Times)
SEL Needs Larger Wheel Options

The redesigned Volkswagen Jetta gets bigger for 2019 and it looks to be an improvement over the outgoing model. The new SEL Premium trim has more comfort and quality has not been sacrificed. Buyers get a taste of luxury-car life thanks to high-end features in the SEL we drove this week.

What’s New For 2019

The Volkswagen Jetta has been fully redesigned for the 2019 model year.

It gets more in-car and safety tech and a new SEL Premium trim. The new Jetta is slightly longer, wider, and taller than the outgoing model, with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. Jetta gets a new wraparound grille with LED headlights (standard on all trims) giving the small sedan a more aggressive look.

Features & Options: Mostly Tech & Safety

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T SEL ($24,415) comes standard with an eight-speaker BeatsAudio system, an upgraded infotainment system with an eight-inch display, satellite and HD radio, a fully digital gauge cluster (Digital Cockpit), and an extra USB port. It also features heated V-Tex leatherette seats, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, and a power-tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof.

We were surprised the SEL only gets 16-inch alloy wheels, however.  

Other safety items include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, auto high-beam control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A 10-color adjustable ambient lighting system is standard as well. Total MSRP including destination: $25,265. By comparison, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta starts at $18,545 with a manual transmission; $19,345 with an automatic. 

Related: A brief walk through the 2019 Jetta lineup.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Review: Good Value For The Money 1

Interior Highlights: Comfortable & Warm 

The Jetta’s all-new interior is more modern than the outgoing model with excellent build quality. The first thing we noticed was the larger, eight-inch screen and VW’s Digital Cockpit, a fully digital and customizable gauge cluster. Interior cubby space has increased, with larger door pockets and a larger center console bin for storing your valuables.

The 10-color ambient lighting is another interesting feature.

Jetta SEL gets a more premium look with new fabrics, new colors, attractive stitching, and the nicely-bolstered bucket seats are more comfortable. We made liberal use of the heated front seats that also bring extra winter comfort. Front-seat passengers benefit from more knee and shoulder room, and your rear-seat passengers will have increased legroom because of the longer wheelbase.

The trunk is a bit smaller, but the 14.1-cubic-foot capacity is still competitive for the class.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Review: Good Value For The Money 2

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The VW Jetta continues to come with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder producing a modest 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and acceleration is reasonably quick for the class.

EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 30/40 city/highway and 34 combined, slightly better than last year. The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is on par, for the most part, in terms of fuel economy when compared to the competition

Behind the wheel, the driving dynamics of the new @VW #Jetta will have you thinking you're in a more expensive German sedan. Click To Tweet

Driving Dynamics: Smooth & Quiet

The 1.4-liter engine powers up with the push-button start and pulls hard above 2,500 rpm. Handling capability is stable, and the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta rides smoothly on the highway. The Jetta is built for the Autobahn; its architecture conveys that on the mountain roads and tight curves. We felt completely confident at higher than posted speed limits on a curvy section of the Colorado interstate.

In the city, the new Jetta is highly maneuverable too. Visibility is above average in this small sedan, nice when driving through city traffic. 

You will find the 147 horsepower engine has enough power for most driving situations. Although we are interested in seeing a high performance option for the new Jetta, on the open road we could power around slower traffic. We found the small sedan to be quiet inside too. We didn’t detect much road or engine noise as we cruised around this week.

The new eight-speed automatic is smooth and responsive, downshifting readily when we needed more power. Overall, the new automatic’s shifting is well-suited to the engine’s power. And the start/stop feature (limited to the automatic) is smoother than most.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Review: Good Value For The Money 3

Mounted in a lightweight, two-piece steel subframe, the Jetta’s strut-type front suspension has lower control arms and long-travel coil springs. At the back, a torsion beam rear setup with telescopic dampers offers an ideal balance of ride comfort, handling, and weight reduction.

Conclusion: Good Value For The Money

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL offers plenty of luxurious features and is still a good value for a small sedan. The new Jetta is roomy and quiet, offering a smooth-shifting automatic. Behind the wheel, the driving dynamics will have you thinking you’re in a more expensive German sedan.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Gallery

Photos: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

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