2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn in Pyrite Silver Metallic

Quick Spin, Consumer Guide Automotive

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Class: Compact Car

Miles driven: 294

Fuel used: 12.0 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA-
Power and PerformanceA-
Fit and FinishA-
Fuel EconomyB-
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 Specs228-hp 2.0L
Engine TypeTurbocharged 4-cylinder
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive WheelsFront

Real-world fuel economy: 24.5 mpg

Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/32/28 (city/highway/combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $30,745 (not including $920 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: None

Price as tested: $31,665


Quick Hits

The great: Clean and simple control layout, excellent ride/handling balance, fine passenger room for a compact car

The good: Satisfying acceleration, generous list of standard comfort and convenience features

The not so good: Pricier than similarly powerful class rivals, limited options available

More Volkswagen Jetta price and availability information


CG Says:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record since the Volkswagen Jetta was redesigned for 2019, we at Consumer Guide think the likeable compact sedan lost something in ride quality and maybe a little in handling when it traded its independent rear suspension for a cheaper twist-beam axle. It got some of that back with the midyear addition of the multilink-rear GLI, a car that also came with more horsepower and unique trim.

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

The GLI model brings a higher level of performance to Volkswagen’s Jetta compact sedan–it gets a more powerful engine and a more sophisticated independent rear suspension for better handling.

Happily, the sport sedan of the Jetta family continued into 2020 effectively unchanged but for some widely implemented technology additions. We drove one in ’19 and now again in ’20, the only key difference between them being their transmissions. The first GLI test car had a 6-speed manual gearbox but the second one was equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

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2020 Jetta

The Jetta’s dash layout is simple and easy to use, and the GLI Autobahn model comes standard with lots of features, such as a wireless charging pad, BeatsAudio sound system, and Digital Cockpit configurable virtual gauge cluster.

One other slight difference was that the 2019 test car was a Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Edition, a one-time model of course. The 2020 GLI offers shoppers a simpler choice between “S” and Autobahn trim levels. Our latest Jetta test car was a GLI Autobahn with a starting (and ending) price of $31,665. The DSG dual-clutch automatic is factored into the price and isn’t listed as an option, but GLIs with it do cost $800 more than their 3-pedal kin. The Autobahn justifies its $3700 premium over the GLI S through features like “Digital Cockpit” electronic control display, leather seating surfaces, and DCC adaptive chassis control.

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2020 Jetta

The base GLI S models get cloth upholstery and heated front seats, but Autobahns add leather upholstery and heated/ventilated front seats. The rear-seat space in all Jettas is quite good for the compact-car class.

The dual-clutch trans, which drivers can work for themselves with steering-wheel paddles if simply clicking a lever into place doesn’t offer enough engagement, didn’t exhibit any of the rough shifting that has been known to plague similar devices. It kicked down efficiently when the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that powers GLIs needed to execute a pass. The powerplant turns out 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and smoothly quickens the Jetta’s pace with almost no turbo lag.

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2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

A power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof is standard on the GLI Autobahn.

Meanwhile, the GLI Autobahn rode and handled sweetly. The complement of running gear is fleshed out with the XDS Cross Differential System (it distributes power to the outside front wheel in a turn for improved handling) and a VAQ limited-slip front differential lock. DCC presents three different suspension-firmness settings, but none uncomfortably hard. The test car’s standard 18-inch alloy wheels were clad in grippy summer performance tires.

The Digital Cockpit display puts a colorful array of information right in front of the driver, and a standard performance monitor with readouts for things like turbo boost and g-force can be summoned on the 8-inch touchscreen. When not monitoring these performance factors, the screen is used to govern the uncomplicated Composition Media audio system with satellite radio, voice control, and CD player (which is hidden in the glove box). Note that all ’20 Jettas get an updated Car-Net mobile-app telematics system and Wi-Fi capability for up to four enabled devices. The climate system is dual zone and conveniently operated by three dials and a few clearly marked buttons.

Comfortable seats welcome front passengers. Drivers grip a leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel in a cabin dressed up with red contrast stitching throughout and stainless-steel trim for the pedals. The roomy and airy cabin with good driver sightlines can accommodate three adults across the rear seat in a pinch. Front seats are heated and ventilated, and the driver enjoys 8-way power seat adjustment.

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2020 Jetta

The heart of the Jetta GLI is a 228-hp turbo 2.0-liter four that’s shared with VW’s Golf GTI hatchback.  Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard; summer performance tires are a no-cost option to the standard all-season tires.

Personal-item storage in the front row falls to an ample glove box, deep console box, and an open console bin with a USB port and the standard wireless charger. However, a single pouch attached to the front passenger seat is the main rear-seat receptacle. Pockets in all four doors include bottle holders, and there are twin cup holders in the console and the pull-down rear armrest. Good trunk space for the class can be extended by folding the 60/40-split rear seats. However, they rest about four inches above the height of the trunk floor, and a bulkhead behind the seats places some limits on passing cargo from the trunk.

Safety is attended to as well. Forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking are included, as are a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. The Jetta GLI Autobahn lets drivers hit the road with confidence, comfort—and a touch of sport sedan attitude.

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2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Though it costs more than sporty class rivals such as the Kia Forte GT and Hyundai Elantra N Line, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn delivers a higher level of luxury along with its spicy performance.

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