Volkswagen’s 7th Generation Jetta arrives on a new platform that delivers a quiet and comfortable ride as well as more interior room. But one of the best things about the new Jetta is that nearly every trim level of the 2019 model will cost less than the 2018 model, in some cases significantly less.

The Jetta is offered in S, SE, R-Line, SEL and a new SEL Premium trim for 2019. The starting price of the 2019 Jetta’s base S trim with an automatic transmission is $19,345 ($18,545 manual) which is $300 less than the outgoing car’s starting MSRP. The SE will start at $22,155 ($90 less than 2018). Step up to the SEL trim, and you’ll spend $24,415, or $1,830 less than the 2018 MSRP. The R-Line is for more adventurous drives and will start at $22,995, and the SEL Premium will start at $26,945, or $700 more than the top trim level in 2018.

The Jetta will hit showrooms in the second quarter of this year.

While some other automakers didn’t see increases in sales last year, Volkswagen is among those that did. VW sales grew 5.2 percent in 2017, Volkswagen’s Jan Dickman told auto journalists invited recently to the Raleigh-Durham triangle of North Carolina to get a first look at the new Jetta. It’s good evidence that the German automaker is winning back customer confidence after the diesel scandal.

The Jetta is one of the company’s best sellers, with more than 17 million sold worldwide, more than 3 million of those sales in the US. The new Jetta was designed with the American market in mind, VW officials said. The new Jetta comes with a transferrable, 6-year/72,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty.

The Jetta is available with only one engine, but it’s a pretty good one. The 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder develops 147 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Two transmissions are offered, a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic.

With either transmission, the engine is rated at 30 miles per gallon in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg combined. Four driving modes are available: Normal, Sport, Eco and Custom.

After a half-day behind the wheel, I was impressed with how quiet the new Jetta was. Wind noise was practically non-existent. The little turbo-4, the Jetta certainly isn’t overpowered, but is adequately powered. Steering was excellent – precise and on-center. Hard Cornering produced scant body roll.

The new generation Jetta is longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model. Officially, it’s a compact sedan, but it looks and feels larger. Headroom in the front seats is 38.5 inches, while in the rear seat it’s 37.2 inches. Legroom in the rear seat is 37.4 inches.

Inside the cabin, Volkswagen uses quality materials and puts the soft stuff in all the correct places. The S trim gets cloth seats, the SE leatherette seating surfaces and the SEL Premium gets leather. The S and SE trims get 16-inch wheels, while the upper trims get 17-inchers.

All Jettas get rearview cameras, and SE and above get dual-zone air, heated seats, keyless entry with pushbutton start and a blind spot monitor. Every Jetta also gets cool ambient lighting that comes in 10 colors, including hot pink.

When it comes to connectivity, Volkswagen’s Car-Net system runs smartphone apps on the vehicle’s 8-inch display. Car-Net, which starts with a 6-month trial and then requires a subscription, offers remote vehicle access that can lock/unlock the doors, find your parked car or check the fuel level. Also included are automatic crash notifications and emergency calls, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance. Speed alerts and boundary alerts can also be set for younger drivers.

The Jetta’s available safety technologies include forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and automatic high beam headlight control.

If you’re shopping in the crowded compact sedan segment, the Jetta is worth a good, long look.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL


1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder


147/184 lb.ft.


8-speed automatic


$24,415 plus freight

EPA mileage estimates:

30 mpg city/40 mpg highway/34 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

528 miles