Already a Gas Sipper, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta's Fuel Economy Nears the Head of the Class

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The next-generation Jetta, now virtually indistinguishable from other cars when viewed from the side (but unmistakably Volkswagen in its front and rear styling), has plenty of newness on offer, having switched to the company’s MQB platform for the 2019 model year.

Along with a stretch in wheelbase, the new Jetta gains expanded passenger volume and updated features, though not an updated engine. The well-regarded 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder carries over to the seventh-generation model, making 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, but a brace of new transmissions arrive to bump the compact sedan’s fuel economy to new (gas-powered) heights.

Now that the EPA has posted figures for the 2019 model, we know the new Jetta is good for 30 miles per gallon in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg in the combined cycle, both with the new eight-speed automatic and the six-speed manual. Previously, the Jetta was good for 28 city/38 highway/32 combined when paired with a six-speed autobox, and 28 city/40 highway/33 with a five-speed stick.

Having a 40 mpg figure to boast about is a gold mine for the marketing department, as not many automakers field a non-diesel, non-hybrid car that offers such thrift. With VW’s “clean” diesels now a fading memory, squeezing out an extra MPG or two becomes all the more important. Volkswagen can’t be seen as an environmental laggard, future electric car plans be damned.

But how does the new Jetta’s fuel economy stack up against its rivals? Quite favorably, but it’s still not good enough to carry a “class-leading” banner.

As it turns out, the Jetta ties for third. Its MPGs match a number of solely ICE-powered 2018 model year vehicles, including the Toyota Corolla Eco and Ford Focus (when equipped with the optional 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder). While Chevrolet’s Cruze matches the VW’s highway figure, you’d have to fork over plenty of cash for an internal combustion Cruze that beats it in every way, because that car is a diesel. The Hyundai Elantra Eco, a little-talked-about 1.4-liter variant of the already efficient sedan, beats this crop of compacts in combined fuel economy (35 mpg) without resorting to electrification or compression ignition.

However, it’s the segment’s best-selling model, the Honda Civic, that holds the compact-class fuel economy crown. When equipped with the 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four and continuously variable automatic, the Civic earns a 36 mpg combined rating. Truly, the car that has everything.

Still, mileage figures aren’t price, and the Jetta — marked for a window sticker reduction for 2019 — offers its top fuel economy to entry-level buyers. No need to upgrade to a higher trim, optional engine, or pricier transmission to see that extra range. The 2019 Jetta should mosey onto U.S. dealer lots in the second quarter of this year.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Truckducken Truckducken on Feb 11, 2018

    Tell me more about this “brace of new transmissions”. Extra credit if you can tell us what sort of special dealer-only maintenance zey will require.

    • See 2 previous
    • Whatnext Whatnext on Feb 12, 2018

      @brettc Why is VW moving away from the DSG in North American cars?

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Feb 11, 2018

    At the auto show yesterday, I noticed that the trend of the dorky-looking, trapezoidal “smiley” inside mirrors throughout the entire auto industry (with the exception of GM and Ford) has taken a nonsensical twist in the new Jetta and Atlas: the damn mirror isn’t wide enough, vertically, to see the entire rear window, top to bottom! And as with most new cars with hatch-esque styling, the visibility to the rear isn’t the greatest to begin with! The IP is really nice, however; too bad that the rear axle is back to a torsion-beam! So did VW abandon its DSG experiment? Probably better from a maintenance perspective!

    • See 7 previous
    • 30-mile fetch 30-mile fetch on Feb 12, 2018

      @derekson If the auto press was acting true to form, they didn't complain because they didn't know it wasn't IRS. If they did know, suddenly the reviewer would have noticed bad handling characteristics all over the place that IRS would solve in a jiffy.

  • 1995 SC PA is concerning, but if it spent most of its life elsewhere and was someone's baby up there and isn't rusty it seems fairly priced.
  • CanadaCraig I don't see ANY large 'cheap' cars on the market. And I'm saying there should be.
  • 1995 SC I never cared for the fins and over the top bodies on these, but man give me that interior all day. I love it
  • 1995 SC Modern 4 door sedans stink. The roofline on them is such that it wrecks both the back seat and trunk access in most models. Watch someone try to get their kid into a car seat in the back of a modern sedan. Then watch them try to get the stroller into the mail slot t of a trunk opening. I would happily trade the 2 MPG at highway speed that shape may be giving me for trunk and rear seat accessibility of the sedans before this stupidity took over. I ask you, back in the day when Sedans were king, would any of them with the compromises of modern sedans have sold well? So why do we expect them to sell today? Make them usable for the target audience again and just maybe people will buy them. Keep them just as they are and they'll keep buying crossovers which might be the point.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.