Fuel efficient. Nice interior amenities. Ideal for the daily commute.
Safety & Tech Features
Premium Audio System
Engine Power At Times
If you’re not entirely sold on SUV and crossovers, and are thinking a sedan might be better for you, then check out the 2019 VW Jetta. The Jetta, now in its seventh-generation, gets a full remodel for 2019. With the redesign, it receives more safety technology, an option for a manual transmission, and a new SEL Premium trim, which we recently drove.
Here is our full review of the 2019 VW Jetta SEL Premium.
The sheet metal is new, front to rear, but the more significant changes apply to the underpinnings. The new exterior surrounds VW’s front-drive Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture. The same structure has supported the VW Golf hatchback since 2015. MQB brings more rigidity to the Jetta’s chassis to help with handling, safety, and fuel economy. MQB also ushers in a longer wheelbase (+1.3 inches) and a roomier interior, particularly for rear passengers.
All Jetta models receive the MIB II touchscreen infotainment system, with pinch and zoom capability. SEL and SEL Premium come with Car-Net Security & Service, a suite of features that provide additional peace of mind while also allowing owners the ability to remotely access their 2019 Jetta.
Our 2019 VW Jetta SEL Premium ($27,695) came with high-end features like leather seats, adaptive cruise control, an eight-speaker BeatsAudio system, and an upgraded infotainment system with an eight-inch display. Our tester also had satellite and HD radio, a fully-digital gauge cluster (Digital Cockpit), and an extra USB port. The SEL Premium trim comes with plenty of winter goodies like heated seats (front and rear), heated steering wheel and mirrors, and automatic wipers with heated nozzles.
Safety items for the SEL Premium include lane keeping assist and automatic high-beam control. The latter activates the high beams above 37 mph on poorly-lit roads if no oncoming traffic is detected. We found the feature useful as we made our way home late the other night. Other safety features for the Jetta lineup include blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert and VW’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
Lastly, our SEL Premium tester had 17-inch alloy wheels, 10-color interior ambient lighting, and a panoramic sunroof. Total MSRP as tested, including destination: $28,590. By comparison, the 2019 VW Jetta starts at $18,745.
Volkswagen has given the new Jetta a more upscale look with soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. We especially liked the leather seats (with an attractive stitching), and the new ambient lighting in 10 different colors. The front seats are heated but also ventilated, which we used liberally on our drive with temps hitting the mid 90s in Denver recently. What we didn’t need was the heated steering wheel, but that will be welcomed this fall and winter along with the heated seats.
We enjoyed the other upscale goodies inside, like the 400-watt BeatsAudio premium sound system. It made our commute through the heavy Denver traffic far more pleasurable. Our Jetta SEL Premium tester also came with Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit, allowing drivers to customize the instrument display to their preferences. The standard Driver Personalization system offers further customizing of the Jetta’s features, including driver seat memory settings, climate control, and radio presets among others. We didn’t have our tester for very long, so we didn’t input our preferred settings, but we believe this is something buyers will use and appreciate.
In the back, Jetta’s longer wheelbase made it easier for our passengers as we traveled to lunch. However, like most compact sedans, it’s best when used primarily for kids and child seats. The rear seat offers 60/40 folding for cargo and the trunk brings 14 cubic feet of space.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
VW’s 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder carries over as the powerplant of choice for the new Jetta. It produces 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Our tester came with the eight-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual is available on lower trims. EPA fuel economy ratings with either transmission come in at 30/40 city/highway and 34 combined, although a start/stop system is standard for the automatic. In terms of fuel economy, the 2019 VW Jetta holds its own when compared to others in the segment.
Driving Dynamics: Solid & Stable
We especially like German-made cars because they have the Autobahn designed into their DNA. With no speed limits, their cars are built to be extra stable at higher speeds. The 2019 Jetta gave us confidence on I-70 leading out of Denver. With its new underpinnings acting as the foundation, the 2019 Jetta feels sturdier than the outgoing model. Drivers who find themselves in a lot of traffic each day will appreciate how composed the 2019 VW Jetta feels. The steering, for example, at highway speeds, becomes more firm, while at slower speeds assistance is increased for parking and turning corners.
The small turbo engine spools up and delivers enough power, and did so for us as we passed slower cars even going uphill. We felt the 2019 VW Jetta could use a bit more power, especially when loaded with passengers and cargo, but for most situations power is adequate enough. We chucked the compact Jetta sedan hard around the tighter mountain curves to test the new architecture. Overall, body roll was minimal and the 2019 Jetta kept relatively flat. We even hit a few dirt roads and everything was smooth enough, considering the terrain.
Driving Dynamics: More Quiet Than We Remember
The shifting action of the new eight-speed automatic is smooth and responsive, downshifting readily when we needed more power. We barely noticed the start/stop feature when we were at a light. We also noticed a reduction in wind, engine, and road noise in this new generation Jetta. Still, if that stuff bothers you, just crank up the 400-watt BeatsAudio system. That’s the best way to keep the noisy world out.
At just under $30,000, the 2019 VW Jetta SEL Premium offers a good value for the money and plenty of standard features for the price. It’s fairly roomy up front and quiet and confident when on the road. It gets excellent fuel mileage so you will be stopping less at the convenience store to get gas. For a young family, the Jetta also is a good choice as a daily commuter.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
2019 VW Jetta Gallery
Photos: Volkswagen of America, Inc. (additional trim levels shown).