2020 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium
Class: Compact Car
Miles driven: 339
Fuel used: 11.1 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|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.
Real-world fuel economy: 30.5 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 30/40/34 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $27,945 (not including $920 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $28,865
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
Volkswagen’s Jetta coasts into the 2020 model year with a few improvements but no major changes, which is nothing unusual for a car that was completely brand new just the year before. It’s no wonder, then, that the ’20 Jetta SEL Premium that Consumer Guide tested seemed as familiar as it did.
All 2020 Jettas get an updated Car-Net mobile-app telematics system and Wi-Fi capability for up to four enabled devices. SEL and SEL Premium also add standard wireless charging. (SEL further picks up the 17-inch alloy wheels and Cold Weather Package already found on the Premium in 2019, and the sportier R-Line adopts a standard 6-speed manual transmission. The Cold Weather group—steering wheel, outboard rear seats, windshield-wiper bay, and windshield-washer nozzles all heated, and remote engine start—is newly available for the SE and R-Line.) Starting price of the SEL Premium that CG tested is $28,865, including delivery, which represents a rise of $275 from 2019.
The ’20 Jetta certainly becomes a little more technologically savvy, but its fundamental nature in terms of performance, dynamics, room, comfort, and features is what it has been for the last year or so. All but the high-performance GLI have a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and twist-beam-rear-axle suspension. In addition to the items already mentioned, the SEL Premium packs the following standard equipment: leather upholstery; heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable front seats; 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; adaptive cruise control; forward-collision warning and mitigation; lane-keeping assist; and blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic alerts.
Hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the 147-horsepower engine can be subject to a sniff of turbo lag before stepping out smartly from a standstill. Selectable “Sport” mode sharpens throttle response. Prompt kickdown from the trans makes for confident highway passing. The EPA projects fuel economy at 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 34 combined. CG editors’ experience with the 2020 job was 30.5 mpg with 55 percent city driving. That was one mile per gallon worse than the best figure they got from three ’19 test cars with the 1.4/8-speed powerteam, but better than two others that incorporated higher percentages of city-type driving.
We haven’t been as sanguine about the generation-7 Jetta’s shift to a twist-beam rear axle, a cost-cutting move that leaves the car more prone to a less-compliant ride than earlier Jettas. (To obtain the benefits of a fully independent multilink rear suspension, you’ll have to get a GLI.) Light steering comes off as a little numb, but a selectable “Sport” mode improves steering feel.
The VW corporate platform picked out for the current Jetta made it slightly wider, taller, and longer than before. The cabin is roomy, and can carry three adults across the rear seat in a pinch. Drivers enjoy good vision to almost any direction. Passengers settle onto comfortable seats with good support. The “Digital Cockpit” display puts an array of information right in front of the driver, and the Discover Media audio/navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen in the SEL Premium is easy to use. The same can be said for the dual-zone climate-control system primarily governed by three convenient dials to select temperature and fan speed.
Cabin-storage options benefit from a capacious glove box, a deep console box, and an open bin with a USB port—and space for the wireless charging pad—ahead of the console. However, there’s just a single pouch in back, attached to the front passenger seat. All doors include pockets with bottle holders, and there are pairs of cup holders in the console and the pull-down rear armrest. There’s a nice amount of trunk space for a compact sedan, with more available by folding the 60/40-split rear seats—though they settle about four inches above the height of the trunk floor, and a bulkhead behind the seats somewhat restricts cargo passage from the trunk area.
The Jetta SEL Premium is a car we know well, and it’s one we know that we like. We think you’d like it too.
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