The Jetta has been a mainstay for Volkswagen since it was introduced in 1979. This compact sedan continues to be a top seller in the U.S. for the German automaker, with its affordable price, roomy interior and great gas mileage. It’s also one of a shrinking number of compact cars you can get with a manual transmission.
Base Price: $21,265
As Tested: $23,315
Mileage: 29 mpg city/43 mpg highway/34 mpg combined
The five-passenger Jetta is now in its seventh generation with a full redesign for the 2019 model year. For 2022, the Jetta gets a midyear refresh including interior and exterior design tweaks, slightly more powerful base engine, and more standard driver assistance tech. And a new trim, Jetta Sport, is added to the line-up while the R-Line, SEL and GLI S trims are dropped.
The Jetta faces stiff competition in the compact car segment including the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda Mazda3, and Toyota Corolla. Some are more fun to drive and boast more upscale cabins, so you’ll want to shop around before choosing your vehicle.
The 2022 Jetta comes in five trims: S, Sport, SE, SEL, and GLI Autobahn. Starting prices range from $20,195, one of the lowest starting prices in the class, to $30,995. All models have front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive isn’t available.
The four lower trims are powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is the same engine in the new VW Taos subcompact crossover and produces 11 more horses than last year’s engine. The GLI trim gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that cranks out 288 hp and 258 pound-feet. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S and Sport trims, and an eight-speed automatic is available. The SE and SEL trims come standard with the automatic transmission. The GLI comes standard with the stick shift and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available.
Fuel efficiency is excellent for the class. EPA ratings for my tester with manual transmission are 29 mpg city and 43 mpg highway with a combined rating of 34. I got 37 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The new base engine provides more pep than the old engine with snappy acceleration and plenty of torque at the low end, with little turbo lag. The six-speed stick is easy to shift. Steering is light; you may wish for more feedback. Brakes are responsive. The ride is smooth and comfortable. Visibility is good all the way around. While the Jetta isn’t as engaging as the Mazda Mazda3 or some models of the Honda Civic, it’s still a peppy commuter.
The interior looks like, well, a Volkswagen. The design is simple and clean. The standard 6.5-inch touchscreen is small which makes it look like infotainment systems from a decade ago. The cabin is roomy, especially when you consider that the Jetta is a compact car. Front seats are supportive and comfortable. The second row is spacious enough for two adults or three kids to fit comfortably, but the seats could use more padding. While many materials are soft-touch, there are a number of hard plastics which detract from the overall aesthetic.
Standard features include rearview camera, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, eight-inch digital cockpit, infotainment system with 6.5-inch touchscreen, four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Wi-Fi hot spot.
Available features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, V-Tex synthetic leather upholstery, real leather upholstery, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, six- or eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated rear seats, rear-seat center armrest, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, nine-speaker BeatsAudio audio system, navigation, satellite radio, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless device charging, panoramic sunroof, automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Available driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist
The infotainment is user-friendly, whether you have the standard six-inch touchscreen or eight-inch touchscreen. Menus are logically laid out and the system responds quickly to commands. A volume knob and other physical controls make it easy to make quick adjustments.
The 2022 Jetta has 14.1 cubic feet of space in the trunk which is decent for the class. But the 60/40 split-folding rear seats don’t fold completely flat so you lose a little versatility.
Relatively low price
Excellent fuel efficiency
Comes standard with a manual transmission
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Rivals have sportier performance
Hard plastics in cabin
Standard infotainment system has small touchscreen
My tester starts at $21,265. Driver Assistance Package is $995 and includes Travel Assist (semi-automated driving assistance), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, rain-sensing front wipers, auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The six-speed manual transmission is standard at no additional charge. Destination charge is 23,315 bringing the grand total to $23,315.
The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta offers a roomy cabin with plenty of space for passengers and cargo and excellent fuel economy. While it doesn’t have the sportiest performance among compact cars, it’s a decent option, especially for budget-minded shoppers.