- The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta starts at $21,245 before freight and delivery charges.
- Fuel-efficient engine, great driving dynamics, good interior room.
- Smaller trunk than in previous-gen car, bland styling, not a bargain.
The Jetta is a popular compact sedan in Canada, and sells almost as well as the Volkswagen Golf hatchback. If we combine their sales together, they rank third among the country’s most popular cars in the first quarter of the year. Still, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta must do battle with household names such as the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, the Hyundai Elantra, the Mazda3 and the Kia Forte.
Four trim levels are offered on the Jetta, if we include the GLI that the brand is marketing as a separate model. The $21,245 Comfortline comes standard with a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, LED headlights and taillights, 16-inch Rama alloy wheels, heated front seats as well as heated outside mirrors and washer fluid nozzles.
Next up in the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta range, the $24,345 Highline adds rain-sensing wipers, a power sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, leatherette upholstery with a choice of three different colours, blind-spot monitoring, a smart key with push-button start and an eight-inch touchscreen. Autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic headlights are part of the $1,005 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems package, while the $2,170 R-Line package tacks on 17-inch Viper alloys, a more aggressive exterior appearance, fog lights, a Cross Differential System (XDS), interior ambient lighting, wiper defrosters, heated rear seats and a remote engine starter.
The $29,895 Execline gets the XDS diff, a BeatsAudo eight-speaker sound system, navigation, wireless phone charging, 17-inch Tornado alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, black or black & beige perforated leather upholstery and chrome trim.
Each of these 2020 Volkswagen Jetta variants is equipped with a turbocharged, 1.4-litre four that develops 147 horsepower as well as 184 pound-feet of torque at 1,400 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the Comfortline and Highline, which can be replaced by an optional eight-speed automatic—which is standard in the Execline.
And then there’s the $31,945 Jetta GLI, which boasts a turbo 2.0-litre engine that unleashes 228 horsepower as well as 258 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm, matched to a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic. The GLI benefits from what the brand calls Dynamic Chassis Control with a drive mode system, 18-inch Polanko wheels along with a mix of the Highline and Execline’s content.
What the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta Does Well
- The Jetta’s 1.4L turbo engine is particularly efficient, posting city/highway/combined ratings of 7.9/5.9/7.0 L/100 km—or 7.8 in the city with the automatic. That makes the VW one of the most frugal cars in its category, and during our last test, we averaged 7.2 L/100 km. Even the performance-infused GLI isn’t too shabby with a combined average of 8.4 L/100 km.
- Every Jetta is fun to drive—not just the GLI. The sedan’s chassis tuning, communicative steering and torque-rich engines provide plenty of smiles behind the wheel.
- Despite its sporty character, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta can still serve up a comfortable, refined and quiet ride.
- Although some low-rent plastics can be found in the Jetta cockpit, overall fit and finish is quite good, while the interior design is conservative, but contemporary.
- Despite less rear-seat legroom than in the previous-generation car, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is roomy for a compact sedan.
What the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta Doesn’t Do Well
- Since the redesigned Jetta arrived for the 2019 model year, it’s been criticized for the blandness of its exterior styling. The overall lines are typically German, but the front end does look somewhat generic.
- The old Jetta used to have the biggest trunk in its segment. Not anymore.
- More and more compact cars are being equipped as standard with advanced driving aid systems, but the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta isn’t one of those. Buyers must move up to the Highline trim to get blind-spot monitoring, and dish out at least $25,350 for emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, among other things.
- In the same vein, an investment of $26,515 is required to equip a Jetta with a heated steering wheel. It’s included in a $21K Forte or Elantra. The BeatsAudio stereo sounds great, but why limit its availability to the Execline and GLI?
What We Tell Our Friends
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta offers driving involvement that can only be rivalled by the Mazda3—and the Golf—in the compact-car segment. It’s fuel-efficient, comfortable and roomy, too.
We’d go for a Highline decked out with the R-Line package, as it benefits from a fairly good level of features and its sporty appearance is nice to look at as well. And if higher performance is required, the GLI is a more tantalizing choice than the Honda Civic Si, the Kia Forte GT, the Mazda3 GT and the Hyundai Elantra Sport.
However, the Jetta may not be the best choice for those seeking specific comfort and convenience features, and the Korean brands offer more for the asking price.