2019 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line essentials: Value and moxie
What is it: The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is now based off the company’s MQB architecture and onlyoffers a 1.4-liter turbo four. A six-speed manual is still offered, but this one gets the new eight-speed automatic. The base Jetta S starts at $18,545, 200 bucks less than the outgoing car.
Key Competitors: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra
Base Price: $23,845 As-Tested Price: $23,845
Full review: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta first drive
Highlights: The 2019 Jetta gets a new, more Audi-like face and adds a bunch of optional safety tech for the new year. LED lights are standard. Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, 10-color ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, and BeatsAudio are optional. The R-Line trim adds 17-inch wheels, a more aggressive rear bumper with dual exhaust, a gloss-black grille, black side mirror caps and R-Line badging.
Our Opinion: Starting from the exterior, this gently redsigned Jetta looks great. For a few days in the parking lot I thought it was an Audi. Good on VW then. Everything looks tougher and more chiseled. In back the taillights look better and the exhausts are now integrated into the bumper.
This 1.4-liter turbo feels decent off the line. VW must have tuned it for power down low in the rev range (max torque is at 1,400), but it does fall a little flat when trying to pass on the expressway. Just remember to push the pedal into the floor. The eight-speed is fine, though I’d like to try the six-speed manual to wring every pony out of this thing.
The handling is on the better side of the pack with the right amount of weight in the steering wheel. There’s no feel, nothing has feel these days, but the amount of effort feels right for the car. Between the tires and suspension, most bumps, even big ones, are soaked up before reaching the cabin.
Speaking of, VW upgraded the seats for this model. They’re still “leatherette” but the shape and the padding feel better on my rear end. This one had the small infotainment screen, but everything worked fine. Oh and the air conditioning cranks, something I was pleased with considering it’s been 150 degrees in Michigan lately.
The Jetta falls midpack in sales for the compact segment. It should maybe be a little higher than that. I like leading Honda Civic better, the Mazda 3 and maybe the Hyundai Elantra.
--Jake Lingeman, road test editor