Quick Spin: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium
2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium in Pyrite Silver Metallic

Quick Spin

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

Class: Compact Car

Miles driven: 299

Fuel used: 10.1 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA-
Power and PerformanceB
Fit and FinishA-
Fuel EconomyA-
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 GuyB
Tall GuyB
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 Specs147-hp 1.4L
Engine TypeTurbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drive WheelsFront-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


Quick Hits

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

More Volkswagen price and availability information


CG Says:

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.

Jetta SEL Premium
Standard LED headlights and taillights, a panoramic sunroof, and heated power exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals help give the Jetta SEL Premium an upscale look.

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.

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Jetta SEL Dashboard
The Jetta’s control layout is clean and easy-to-use, and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit gauge cluster provides some nice eye candy along with extra functionality. The front seats offer a decent mix of comfort and support.

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.

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Jetta SEL Rear Seat Heaters
Heated outboard rear seats are an appreciated comfort feature, but there are no central HVAC vents for the rear-seat area. The rear-seat space itself is quite competitive for the compact-car class, however.

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.

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Jetta Engine and Wheels
Unless you want to step up to the Jetta GLI and its 228-hp turbo 2.0-liter, the Jetta’s lone engine choice is a 1.4-liter turbo four that puts out 147 horsepower. SELs come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels.

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.

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2019 Jetta SEL Premium
The redesigned-for-2019 Volkswagen Jetta loses a bit of is premium European feel and ride/handling refinement in exchange for more-affordable pricing and a number of new comfort and technology features.

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