DURHAM, N.C. — Volkswagen has never gotten enough credit for the interior of its vehicles, especially the fit and finish. And now they’ve done it again with the 2019 Jetta sedan.
Upper trim levels of the new Jetta had an all-digital instrument layout that was attractive, functional and striking. At least that was the way I felt about it when I first climbed into the sedan. What’s more, Jetta interiors with analogue instruments were just as impressive.
They reworked the interior so that the instrument cluster was at eye level. The center dash was now angled toward the driver and that added to an upscale feel.
When I got into the car the instruments were right there, I did not have to look beyond the steering wheel. What’s more, the digital dash was configurable. We used the navigation system to get to the lunch spot, the digital odometer and speedometer disappeared and an arrow telling us how far the next turn was and of course which way to turn took their place.
The 2019 Jetta was equipped with start stop, it was really quiet and the four-cylinder engine sounded really good when the car was under hard acceleration. My driving partner and I had an SEL Premium and that meant a leather interior. I found it soft, almost pliable. The dash was soft to the touch, the fit and finish was as good as I‘ve seen on any vehicle. Other Jetta trim lines have leatherette or cloth interiors.
The car also had adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera which is now mandatory for all vehicles. We went over some railroad tracks faster than recommended and the wheel articulation was great. The front suspension was a strut type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic damper and anti-roll bar. While for the rear suspension, the 2019 Jetta had a torsion beam, coil springs and telescopic dampers.
The car also had blind side alert. On the road this car felt light but sturdy, weighing about 3,000 lbs.
This is the seventh generation of the Jetta which has been on sale in this market since 1978. In that time, 3 million have been sold here and 17.5 million globally.
The Jetta uses Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix platform or MQB. It is a flexible chassis. The sub compact Golf sits on it as does the three row Atlas crossover. Volkswagen sale were five percent higher because of its updated and new utility vehicles. Now the automaker wants to get a sales boost from its sedans. VW’s overall sales were up almost 2 percent in a down market.
The Jetta has a six-year 72,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty that can be transferred. The car had been completely re-engineered. It was wider, longer, and taller with a much longer wheelbase. That translated into more interior space.
I checked out the rear seats in my Jetta test car and found lots of headroom. There was plenty of hip room but that was with two people. Because of the tall tunnel sitting on the hump is almost impossible. Though it is rated as a five-passenger sedan, this car can carry four people in real comfort.
VW said designers reshaped the body, creating a longer wheelbase, wider track, and a shorter front overhang. The fast-sloping rear roofline translated into a coupe-like profile. Compared with the current car, the new car grew outside in every direction. It was longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model. The increased exterior proportions added up to more interior space than the previous car as well.
The combination of a large front grille and sharper lines exuded a bold character, while the addition of more chrome and LED lighting lent a premium feel. The front end design, with its emphasis of horizontal lines, at once identified the new Jetta as a Volkswagen.
Specific to the model is the distinctive unit formed by the radiator grille and the standard LED headlights. The trapezoidal grille was composed of four chrome bars, two of which flowed into the headlight housings where the LEDs picked up the lines and connected them for a wrap-around effect.
Despite the dramatic design, the new Jetta featured a remarkably low drag coefficient of just 0.27, a 10 percent improvement over the previous model. To attain this figure, the Jetta had an active radiator shutter and air curtain intakes on each side, which allowed air to flow smoothly past the front wheel arches. To further optimize airflow, Jetta utilized aerodynamic wheel designs and underbody panels.
The 2019 Jetta was powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that made 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque at 1,400 rpm. Combined with its light-weight the Jetta felt potent.
It got 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg combined. After driving 75 miles to get to the lunch spot, the gas needle had barely moved. A six-speed manual transmission is standard but an eight-speed automatic is available.
We had the automatic and the Jetta was impressive on the road. It accelerated smartly at highway speeds. The roads here had sweeping curves, not a lot of elevation but the Jetta stayed centered and the engine moved the car with authority. I had got on the accelerator once on a lonely stretch and the car got to 100 mph without a lot of effort and would have kept accelerating.
I thought the seats were really comfortable. But my driving partner was disappointed that the passenger seat, though manual, could not be raised. Nor could the passenger side sun visor be slid forward or back. The driver seat was power and the driver side sun visor could be slid along its railing to better shield from the sun.
The car had a fast roofline, a character line from nose to tail, they lowered the rear roofline. All the wheel choices were alloy and they came in either 16 or 17 inches. Full exterior LED lights were standard and there will be 10-colored interior ambient lights. And for the first time there will be an R-Line trim.
The Jetta had remote start, heated and cooled front seats, a panoramic roof is available, and App connects, infotainment touch screen and driver personalization. Our test vehicle had four drive modes: normal, sport, eco and custom.
You can get heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. I found the post collision braking feature intriguing. Volkswagen said that after a collision, a vehicle will continue on striking other vehicles, people or objects. But post collision braking will keep the Jetta straight and apply the brakes after a collision.
The Beats audio system generates 400 watts and has seven speakers. I think Volkswagen is leveraging Beats co-founder Dr. Dre trying to attract a younger buyer. Although they did say the 2019 Jetta was for everybody.
The S trim line starts at $18,545 for the manual and $19,345 for the automatic. The SE starts at $22,155 while the R-Line starts at $22,995. The SEL starts at $24,415 and the top of the line SEL Premium starts at $26,945. There is an $850 freight charge.
Prices have been lowered while the content went up. That’s always a good combination for consumers. The Jetta goes on sale in May.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.