Pros: Fuel economy with Hybrid and diesel models; class-leading interior room and comfort; clean, simple control layout; broad model range; high-performance fun of GLI model
Cons: Interior materials don’t live up to Volkswagen’s typical standards; throttle lag when pulling away from a stop; occasionally awkward performance from automated manual transmission
CG Says: The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta gets a new available engine: a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder with 170 horsepower replaces the previous 2.5-liter 5-cylinder. Also new for 2014 are a new fully independent multilink rear suspension in place of the previous semi-independent suspension, a rearview camera on higher trim levels, and the availability of Volkswagen’s Car-Net communications system/smartphone app. The performance-oriented GLI version is slated to get a 30th Anniversary edition late in the model year. Volkswagen’s compact offers great passenger and cargo room, as well as powertrain refinement that exceeds the class norm. At the same time, its ride/handling balance and quality of interior materials on lower-line models fall short of the lofty standards we expect from a Volkswagen. Continued availability of a thrifty diesel engine makes this compact a more appealing entry than it might otherwise be, as does the well-designed Hybrid. This is still a good all-around package with enough positive attributes that will appeal to those who are new to the brand. VW’s compact sports sedan, the GLI, maintains the Jetta’s practical and roomy package but is much more fun to drive. While the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder has a much lower horsepower rating than many competing sporty compacts, in practice it offers fine power and is very refined. Responsive handling and livable ride quality are other positives.