2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium
Class: Compact Car
Miles driven: 299
Fuel used: 10.1 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||147-hp 1.4L|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged 4-cylinder
|Drive Wheels||Front-wheel drive|
Real-world fuel economy: 29.6 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 30/40/34 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $27,695 (not including $895 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $28,590
The great: Clean and simple control layout, passenger room
The good: Decent list of comfort and convenience features for the money
The not so good: Ride is a bit less refined than in some class rivals; some cost-cutting evident in the interior materials
We drove one early, we drove one late, so now your pals at Consumer Guide are certain that they’ve got the SEL Premium version of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta pretty well figured out.
On the surface, about the only thing that separated our two ’19 SELs was paint color. However, they were priced differently—the more recent Pyrite Silver Metallic one $795 more expensive than the Sage Green job we tried out in autumn 2018. Why? The standard-equipment manifest has taken on a few new items, a cold-weather package that adds a heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats, heated windshield-wiper bay on the lower windshield, heated windshield-washer nozzles, and remote engine start.
Beyond that, though, the two compact sedans are peas in a pod from room and comfort to driving demeanor. As a quick reminder, this is the start of the seventh-generation Jetta, now built on a platform from the VW global product portfolio. It is slightly wider, taller, and longer than the previous model, with more interior room and added technology features. It does, however, come with a simpler rear suspension and a slight reduction of trunk capacity.
With more detail to be found in our earlier reviews of the Jetta SEL Premium, R-Line, and GLI, we’ll just point out that the SEL’s 147-horsepower 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and new 8-speed automatic transmission enable decent standing-start acceleration—after a brief moment of turbo lag—and prompt kickdown for confident expressway passing. Fuel economy hovers around—and even exceeds—30 mpg in real-world driving.
The cost-cutting shift to a twist-beam rear axle leaves the Jetta more prone to a rougher ride. Light steering strikes us as a little numb, but a selectable “Sport” mode standard on the test car tweaked steering feel and throttle response.
At least passengers find themselves welcomed by comfortable, supportive seats and a roomy cabin that can fit as many as three adults across the rear seat in a pinch. The standard Digital Cockpit display shows variable information right in front of the driver. The Discover Media audio/navigation system in the SEL Premium and the triple-dial climate system are both easy to use. Cabin-storage options aren’t bad—the glove box is huge—but there’s evidence of cost-cutting in back where a single pouch is attached to the back of the front passenger seat.
Two cubic feet have been lopped from the trunk, but the Jetta still has a lot of cargo room for a small car. You can get more by folding the backs of the 60/40-split rear seats, though they rest about four inches above the level of the trunk floor, and a bulkhead behind the seats reduces the size of the passage from the trunk area.
Now better suited to duty in areas where winter means business, the Jetta SEL Premium comes to $28,590 with delivery. That price also includes leather seats that are heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable in front; LED headlights and taillights; fog lights; automatic high-beam control; rain-sensing windshield wipers; heated external mirrors; panoramic sunroof; leather-wrapped steering wheel; 10-color ambient lighting; keyless access; push-button starting; premium-finish 17-inch alloy wheels; adaptive cruise control; forward-collision warning and mitigation; lane-keeping assist; and blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic alerts. While perhaps less of a bargain sport sedan with its chassis changes, the Jetta is still a good value play.