For the past two years, the Volkswagen Jetta was a finalist for the Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year (#VOTY). There are many reasons why it is a finalist.
The main reason is that the Jetta is a very good car. It is a compact sedan that puts a smile on the face of the driver and its passengers. It has an accommodating trunk space that expands into the cabin. The 1.4-liter turbocharged TSI engine not only delivers on performance; it returns in fuel economy.
We can stop this article here. Or, I can go on. In this case, I will continue.
Revisiting the Volkswagen Jetta – this time, a 2020 R-Line sedan – is like getting behind the wheel of an old friend. It is reacquainting one’s self with a car that competes with other serious-looking and acting compact sedans that were not developed in Germany.
Which brings me to some consumer advice – and the focus of this missive. You have a choice of Jetta models, including a couple of GLIs. These seven Jetta and GLI trim levels stretch over a budget from under $19,000 to just over $30,000. Finding the right one may be easy on the surface, but, Jetta owners know that picking the right one will result in a long-term relationship that should be without regret.
At every step, you must ask yourself some questions. What equipment level do you want on your Jetta? Manual gearbox drivers will love the fact that you have a choice of four Jetta and GLI models you can row your gears in. You can get the digital cockpit screen on three of these models, including the SEL and SEL Premium models, along with the GLI Autobahn. There are also a host of driver assistance features that are found across the lineup – both standard and as available equipment.
Then again, you still have plenty of choices to make when it comes to making a buying decision. What about me? What would I choose?
Like you, I have a tough decision. I ama budget-conscious consumer and I still want everything I could possibly get in a vehicle. Sometimes you have to compromise to get what you want or leave some features aside for the sake of what you can live without.
I love the Jetta R-Line. It is a sporty number that encourages you to do the most important thing with a car – drive.
I love technology, but I also love how Volkswagen formats their analog instrumentation. It is augmented by a TFT digital information screen giving me the information I need all the time. The infotainment screen is easy to reach. Do I need on-board navigation? Nope. Not with App-Connect integrating my smartphone and its mapping app. Plus, I can play the music I want through the standard speaker set-up.
The seats in the Jetta R-Line are just right. They are firm and supportive with a great two-tone leatherette upholstery motif. Rear seat room is good for a vehicle in its class. Seriously, I can sit back there without any fatigue behind myself – one of my more critical tests in any vehicle.
One thing the Jetta is known for is very generous trunk space.
If you choose a Jetta with the 1.4-liter turbocharged TSI engine, you made a good choice. It is not the 147 horsepower that will confirm your choice, but the 184 pound-feet of torque will seal the deal. In the compact class, these are among the best power numbers – if not, the best! Which shows, as it makes driving a pleasure – from pure passing power to smooth cruising on the highway.
As for fuel economy, the Environmental Protection Agency states you should get 30 MPG in the city; 40 MPG on the highway. I have seen actual mileage reside in this range and beyond.
Everything else is wonderful on this Jetta R-Line. The 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels are perfect for this car, as is the blacked-out grille. The ride and handling mix is great with a fine balance for any great drive you take. It looks the part and drives the way it looks.
In all, the Volkswagen Jetta is a great choice in a field where the emphasis is on providing middle-of-the-road transportation and some excitement in the lineup. I come back to this car as every trim level offers the same experience of encouraging enthusiasm while sipping fuel.
Which brings us to my original premise: If it were your money, which Volkswagen Jetta would you choose? Think of what I mentioned before about having a long-term relationship with your car. Think of the fun you will have as an owner. Think of what you want, what you need, and how much are you willing to spend.
Which Jetta would I pick? Maybe this R-Line. Who knows? No matter which Jetta you choose, you have a real winner to drive for a very long time.
With everything that has been said here, could this be the year the Volkswagen Jetta win #VOTY2020? It’s too soon to talk about it, really – not until October.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volkswagen of Inver Grove, Inver Grove Heights, MN
All photos by Randy Stern