This year, the Jetta is 3.5 inches longer and offers 2.6 inches more of rear leg room than the car it replaces. That translates to lots of room for rear passengers, and it also means the Jetta carries on with its uncharacteristically large trunk.
The Jetta is offered in five trim levels, with four different powerplants. The base model is the S, which offers a 2.0L inline-4 cylinder engine that makes 115 hp. SE and SEL models are powered by a 170-hp 2.5L 5-cylinder. TDI Jettas come with Volkswagen's proven 2.0L direct-injection turbodiesel, which is good for 140 hp and 236 ft-lb of torque and 42 mpg on the highway. Finally, the top-of-the-line Jetta GLI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder, which produces 200 hp. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on S, SE and SEL models, while a 6-speed automatic is optional. A 6-speed manual is standard on the TDI and GLI, and Volkswagen's slick dual-clutch automatic manual 6-speed is optional.
To better compete with the pricing of compacts that come from Japan, Volkswagen trimmed some items that have previously been standard. For instance, rather than outfitting the Jetta with 4-wheel disc brakes, SE and SEL models now have rear drums. The independent rear suspension has now been replaced with a torsion beam setup in all but the GLI. Volkswagen simplified the options list, with 18 equipment combinations now available.
Despite the cost-savings, the new Jetta hasn't lost a step. S models come equipped with standard goodies such as heated power side mirrors, one-touch up/down power on all four windows, an AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 playback, 6-way manual adjustment, air conditioning and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. Jetta SE adds V-Tex leatherette seating, an armrest and pass-through for the rear seat and cruise control. SEL trims bring 17-inch alloy wheels, bumper-integrated halogen fog lights, chrome accents, touch-screen navigation, Bluetooth, heated front seats, interior leather accents and a multi-function trip computer. GLI models set the bar higher, with a soft-touch dash, aluminum interior trim, that handy independent rear suspension for ultimate road-hugging performance as well as a host of other niceties.
Packaged convenience options for the SE add many of the premium features of the SEL, including heated seats, a premium audio system, and Bluetooth, while a sunroof package includes an even more robust touch-screen stereo system with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer and SD memory card reader, plus a tinted power sunroof. The sunroof is available on the SEL as well, as is a sport package that adds a specially tuned suspension, sport seats, and aluminum trim on the pedals and door trim.
Standard safety equipment on all Jettas includes anti-lock brakes, driver and front passenger front and side thorax airbags, side curtain airbags, traction and stability control and engine braking assist.