The compact Volkswagen Jetta was introduced in 1981 and is Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the U.S. Now in its sixth generation, this four-door, five-passenger sedan was joined by two-door and wagon variants at various times in its lengthy history.
2011 to Present: Volkswagen Jetta
Six generations of Volkswagen Jettas have been offered. The first models were little more than a Volkswagen Rabbit with a trunk. From 1985 on, the Jetta assumed its own platform, offering a sedan alternative to the Golf hatchback and slotting below the midsize Passat.
The current version has a more conservative style than previous models and is sold in multiple trim levels. All models are marked by narrow upper and lower grille openings and come with available daytime running lights.
Steel wheels are standard and alloy wheels are available. Distinct character lines and body sculpting add flair to this sedan. From the rear the Jetta has a raised deck, wraparound tail lamps and additional character lines.
Inside, customers need to look beyond the spartan base model to gain a full appreciation of what the Volkswagen Jetta offers. All models come with power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and 12-volt outlets.
At launch, the standard engine for the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta was a 115-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s paired with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. A 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine is also available. A turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has also been offered for select model years, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automated manual.
Beginning in 2014, Volkswagen dropped the five-cylinder engine and introduced a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. For 2015, Volkswagen refreshed the Jetta, introducing new front and rear fascias as well as a Technology package that brings in features like a rearview camera and a touch-screen navigation system.
The compact car market is a crowded segment, with every mainstream manufacturer represented. Some of the Volkswagen Jetta’s more notable competitors include the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.
Earlier Volkswagen Jetta Model
For 1999, Volkswagen offered both the third- and fourth-generation Jettas, transitioning to the latter fully in 2000 and staying with that model through 2005. In 2001, a wagon model arrived, joining the sedan.
Originally, Volkswagen offered a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and paired it with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Beginning in 2000, Volkswagen offered a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine in the GLS edition. A turbodiesel 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine was also offered.
The GLX and GLI editions offer more power, thanks to a 2.8-liter V6 engine. The V6 was phased out after 2004 and just as Jetta began transitioning to its fifth-generation model in 2005.
The 2005 model offers 2.5-liter five-cylinder and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. VW also continued to offer a 1.9-liter turbodiesel engine. All three engine choices are paired with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. From the onset, a navigation system was optional.
In 2007, Volkswagen dropped the turbodiesel engine until the 2009 model year, when an all-new turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine debuted. For 2010, the performance GLI trim was discontinued and an iPod connection was offered as a standalone option.