The 2020 VW Jetta is an affordable car for buyers of any age. At this publication, our minds are mixed when it comes to VW vehicles. In an earlier review, we didn't have good luck with the Tiguan, but the Jetta really shined for us. We would go for the R-Line personally, but you can opt for the S or SE trim and save on the MSRP.
Safety & Tech Features
Sporty & Fun
Manual Transmission Available
No AWD Option
If you want a Jetta with a little extra flair, the R-Line is sporty, fun to drive, and you can get a rare manual transmission with this trim. The 2020 VW Jetta R-Line comes with extras like special black exterior trim for visual excitement and an electronic locking differential that helps enhance traction to ramp up your driving fun.
This week, we drove the 2020 VW Jetta R-Line. Here is how our test drive went.
The Jetta was redesigned last year but has new tech features like VW’s Car-Net communications app for 2020. Every 2020 Jetta comes with the Car-Net telematics system, on-board Wi-Fi, and the MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. SEL and SEL Premium trims add a standard wireless device charging.
The 2020 VW Jetta is available in five trim levels: S, SE, R-Line, SEL, and SEL Premium. The six-speed manual gearbox, which came with our Jetta tester, is standard on the R-Line.
Features & Options: A Good Mix
Our 2020 VW Jetta 1.4T R-Line tester came with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, and a touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the inside, our Jetta tester had two USB-C ports, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and V-Tex simulated leather upholstery.
The Driver Assistance package came with forward collision warning (alerts you of a possible collision with the car in front), blind-spot monitor (alerts you if a vehicle in the next lane over is in your rear blind spot), and rear cross-traffic alert (notifies you if a vehicle behind you is about to cross your path while in reverse).
What’s Included In The R-Line Package?
The R-Line trim adds a sporty rear bumper, gloss-black exterior accents, and an electronic differential lock (Cross Differential System) that helps improve traction when accelerating. R-Line models receive a unique, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 17-inch wheels paired with 205/55 R17 low-profile all-season tires.
This Jetta R-Line tester came with the optional cold weather package ($500). This gave us a remote start, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and heated windshield washer nozzles.
What Does The 2020 VW Jetta Cost?
Total MSRP, including destination, for our Jetta R-Line tester: $24,115. By contrast, the 2020 VW Jetta starts at $18,895. We think the Jetta is competitively priced, but depending on local incentives in your area, you might be able to save a little more. This free and easy search tool* will show you which dealers near you are offering the best price.
Interior Highlights: Modern & Functional
The Jetta’s interior has a modern vibe and the build quality is excellent. The dash features an eight-inch touchscreen and VW’s Digital Cockpit, a fully digital and customizable gauge cluster. We made use of the standard Bluetooth connectivity by streaming music on our drive.
The R-Line comes with attractive two-tone seats and a sporty steering wheel to set it apart from the other Jetta models. If you need to travel, the Jetta offers plenty of room for your stuff. We made use of the small item storage areas, large door pockets, cell phone tray in front of the shifter, and sizable cupholders.
We think the Jetta’s cabin is a nice place to spend time, and we found the driver’s seat offers a considerable amount of height adjustment. The steering wheel has ample telescoping and tilt range too.
Passenger Room & Cargo Space
There is plenty of knee and shoulder room, and rear-seat passengers have enough legroom for longer rides, but the headroom is average. There is only room for two adults because of the wide center console and rear hump in the center of the floor.
The trunk isn’t the largest in the segment (14.1 cubic feet), but there is enough room for two carry-on suitcases. There’s a large opening behind the rear seats when folded flat for extra storage.
Engine & Powertrain
The 2020 VW Jetta is powered by a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder producing a modest 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed manual (standard on S and R-Line models) or an eight-speed automatic. An auto start/stop system is standard on the automatic Jettas.
EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 30/40 city/highway and 34 combined, regardless of transmission choice. We didn’t get anywhere close to those numbers, but we were pushing the car hard all week (because it’s fun to be able to actually drive a manual these days!).
The sporty Jetta R-Line feels quick around town thanks to the turbo engine and electronic locking differential. The 1.4-liter plant isn’t all that powerful, but the six-speed manual gearbox allowed us to find the ideal revs to maximize its 147 horses. You will find the 147 horsepower engine has enough for most driving situations. Although we would like to see a higher performance option for the R-Line
The 2020 Jetta feels stable around tight corners, and the R-Line rides smoothly enough on the highway. The Jetta is built for the Autobahn; its architecture conveys that on the mountain roads and tight curves we traveled near Denver. 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 heavy traffic. We found the Jetta to be quiet inside for the most part. We didn’t detect too much road or engine noise as we cruised around this week.
Conclusion: Only One Thing Missing
Overall, the Jetta R-Line is sportier than most other small sedans in this price range. On top of that, it’s fuel-efficient if you don’t drive like we do. If VW would just offer an all-wheel drive option, it would be the perfect all-weather 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
Photos: Volkswagen of America, Inc.
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