2019 Volkswagen Jetta: The Wind Cries MQB

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Volkswagen today took the wraps off its latest salvo in the compact sedan market, the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. Based on the MQB platform that also has produced the Golf, Tiguan, and Atlas, the newest Jetta promises more interior room via a longer wheelbase and increases in overall length, width, and height — with a starting price $100 less than the outgoing model.

The Jetta has long been the most important weapon in Volkswagen’s arsenal — after all, one out of every three Volkswagens sold in the United States is this compact sedan — but sales have been steadily dropping, from a 2011 high of 177,360 to 115,807 last year. Certainly, some of that reflects the loss of the incredibly popular TDI models, but the de-contented nature of the outgoing sixth-generation Jetta has surely turned off prospective buyers who can find better equipped vehicles, often with better driving manners, elsewhere.

Compared to the prior model, the styling is evolutionary but distinctive, with a strong horizontal line extending back from the front wheel wells, defining the profile view. Volkswagen takes pains to call the rear roofline “coupe-like,” and indeed the rear glass does have a good bit of rake to it. Still, it’s not as extreme as the new Civic or even Volkswagen’s own outgoing CC. Rear headroom, which was quite good in the outgoing Jetta, should not be negatively affected.

For some reason, Volkswagen also saw fit in its official photos to offer the exact picture with and without funky lens flare:

The short trunklid tapers to a abrupt cutoff that, from some angles, looks to create a bit of a ducktail spoiler effect. It’s a handsome feature that lends a touch of sportiness to an otherwise mainstream sedan. The hood features a series of fore-to-aft lines creating the illusion of power bulges, and the new wider grille features plenty of chrome to liven up the face. Standard LED headlamps ape the irregular hexagon of the big grille.

The redesigned interior looks to be more upscale, with Volkswagen’s lovely Digital Cockpit now available on higher trims to replace the standard gauges. Heated and ventilated leather seats are available, as is a 10-color ambient lighting feature — I look forward to the VW hackers at Ross-Tech unlocking a pulsing disco-themed light pattern.

The Jetta boasts a wheelbase of 105.7 inches, up 1.3 from last year’s car, and has shorter overhangs front and rear. Mechanically, the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is carried over (147 horsepower, 184 lb-ft torque), mated to a new six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. All automatic-equipped cars will feature start-stop technology for the sake of fuel economy.

Optional safety aids include autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta hits showrooms in the second quarter of 2018, with pricing starting at $18,545.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jan 18, 2018

    I think the front end is a modernization and improvement, and the grille gives it a nice wide, low stance. But the rear end does not say Volkswagen to me, but rather Hyundai and Sonata. And the interior is a bit "of the moment" with the flim-flam and lights here and there. That won't age well. Not that Jettas last more than five years on the road anyway, so I guess whatevs.

  • Whatnext Whatnext on Jan 27, 2018

    Not crazy about the Dodge-Dart greenhouse and the window in the sail panel. What good is the Jetta's enormous trunk if it's compromised by a tiny opening?

  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.
  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?