By on February 9, 2018

Image: Volkswagen of America

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]

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43 Comments on “Already a Gas Sipper, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta’s Fuel Economy Nears the Head of the Class...”


  • avatar
    deanst

    “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.”

    Yeah, only Honda, Toyota, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi,…. Nissan at 39 and even Subaru at 38. FCA is really the only outlier among major mainstream manufacturers, and even they had a 40 mpg car a few years ago.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Are these actual mpg ratings or “VW” mpg ratings?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “…the Civic earns a 36 mpg combined rating. Truly, the car that has everything.”

    Except legible gauges and a transmission I don’t hate.

    (Yes, I know, it’s a well behaved CVT…but it’s still a CVT.)

    I have mixed feelings about the new Jetta. The styling’s terrific, and the interior – the weakest feature on my ’17 – is vastly improved, at first glance. But I’m wondering if VW dulled out the sharp reflexes I love about mine. We shall see.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      The new Jetta is the first car I’ve seen that I can imagine living with once my Passat TDI goes to diesel heaven later this year. Hopefully it still has a little Volkswagen fahrvergnugen in it.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      “The styling’s teriffic…”. Yeah, I’m sure tens of people are excited about buying a brand new 2019 car with the fugly grille of the Arteon and the side profile of a 2008 Ford Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Given it is now MQB-based, I would assume it is a sharper drive than before.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What trim do you have? Maybe my years of cars on coilovers and motorcycles have dulled my senses but I wouldn’t call the Jetta’s reflexes sharp. The high boost of the motor also seemed to ensure that I never knew what would happen when I pressed the gas.

      It wasn’t a bad car but I much prefer the Civic for driving dynamics and the Golf TSI as an overall package. Those 400ccs felt like 4000ccs.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      @FreedMike: The Civic is available with perhaps the most lauded 6-speed manual transmission in any car at present. So if you don’t like that or the CVT, what type of transmission are you pining over? A traditional autobox?

      • 0 avatar
        kc1980

        The Civic needs the Acura dual clutch found in the ILX. It should a least be available in the SI. VW offers a world class dual clutch at this price point, why doesn’t anyone else????? Its perhaps my main reluctance to opting for another brand when i move on from my ’10 gti.

        I don’t want a manual (Heresy i know) and i don’t want a CVT. Dual clutch is where its at for me.

        Drove the SI this past weekend. The civic Manual is decent but not amazing. I especially disliked the clutch. Difficult to launch and shift smoothly with it’s high and uncommunicative engagement point. Though perhaps it smooths out as it breaks in some.

        The throws were pretty good, though not exactly what i would call super precise. Still i found it relatively easy to find the correct gear, and it was relatively enjoyable. By no means a revelation though.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      Ever since I bought my 2016 Civic EX (before I broke my back, but I digress) for a daily driver, I am amazed when I go visit my son at college, or take a couple of friends for a gambling fix, I always get 43+MPG on the interstate portion of the trips, running at least 75+MPH.

      I expect that to climb once I get some more miles on it (only 4,600 in 18 months). Yes, it’s the old school 2 liter I-4, and no, I’m not a cheapskate, I have a Lexus IS 250, but hell, it’s kind of fun playing hyper miler switching between ECO and normal modes. While it is a CVT, it will still allow you to hear the VTEC whine – hands down the best CVT on the market.

      I handed my 07 EX-L Accord to my son for college, and the Civic has as much room in the back seat as the Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinC

      I’ve driven a ’17 Jetta and own a ’16 Golf R and we used to have a ’15 TDI. The MQB platform is vastly superior to that ancient Jetta platform your Jetta is built on. Odds are extremely high that the car will drive and handle MUCH better, unless VW screwed up the formula somehow. I think the new car will be a huge hit, if VW marketing doesn’t drop the ball (as they have done consistently in the past).

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Having a 40 mpg figure to boast about is a gold mine for the marketing department”

    Understandable, the savings over a car that only gets 38 mpg are huge. Enough for a hamburger every month or two.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      We have been long overdue for a switch to some kind of gallons per mile metric. Going from 2.63 gallons per 100 miles to 2.5 is a lot less impressive.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        It doesn’t matter, mpg vs gpm. Just do the math for percentage gains or losses. That’s all that matters.

        A Ford pickup moving from 15mpg to 18mpg is a huge improvement–20%. Too bad the entire world thinks being dumb is a badge of honor, and dismisses the entire concept of understanding math.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          No need to insult people. My point is a good metric requires no additional math. Going from 6.7 GP100M to 5.6 demonstrates the difference much more effectively than 15 vs 18 MPG.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    So new cars with more gears use less fuel, and haters are going to hate. What else is new?

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    My ’17 Jetta SE automatic has done 32.6 MPG lifetime, with mostly surface-street driving…best fuel-sipper on our “fleet”.

    I’m intrigued by the ’19 Jetta but not enough to jump out of the one I have. That’ll have to wait until the lease is up.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      32.6 mpg is hardly impressive for a compact sedan. My 2017 CR-V is averaging 33 mpg, and that is a much heavier, boxier vehicle with AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The Edmunds long term 2017 CR-V is only averaging 27.5, so perhaps your average isn’t directly comparable to his.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Do you drive on the same routes as CincyDavid?

        • 0 avatar
          gomez

          Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. The point that 32.6 in a compact sedan is not impressive fuel economy still stands.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Respectfully, it DOES matter. 32.6 is pretty good if most of your driving is red light to stop sign to red light, as CincyDavid’s “mostly surface-street driving” qualifier may indicate. Interstate vs county roads vs exurban roads vs pre-war suburban streets vs urban streets makes a significant difference in the mileage you’ll see.

          • 0 avatar
            CincyDavid

            On the only all-highway run I’ve done with my Jetta, it generated 44 MPG, running 78 MPG with the a/c blasting. As a point of reference, by wife’s ’16 CR-V has 25.5 MPG lifetime, with a similar commute to mine.

            I’m perfectly happy with low-30s real-life MPG with my car and like the way the car drives too.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      You are comparing your own real-world data with the EPA rolling dyno lab test estimates.

      How does your real-world mileage compare to the EPA estimates?

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    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.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    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!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Why do you have your rear windows in your mirror view?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      He’s talking about the INSIDE mirror, and I agree with him, they could usually stand to be a bit bigger, my GTI included.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Correct.

        The “old-style” VW mirrors had good visibility to be able to see the entire rear window; my only complaint was the gray or beige rim which caused glare (and which wouldn’t have been a problem on the autodim mirrors because they had a dark gray rim which didn’t reflect light).

        Now these new ones are too narrow vertically to see everything; despite headrests and high-mounted stoplights being at the bottom of the field of view, I find those are good for reference points, or otherwise I might do a double-take to figure out how close the traffic is behind me, and risk missing something in front. (The demented-clown styling is just an unfortunate design choice. Is it possible that the designers are trying to ape something out of, say, a tri-5 Chevy with those mirrors, which have a trapezoidal, “smiley” look? I’ve always thought that the Gentex rimmed autodimmers bore some resemblance to the dash-mounted mirrors in some early ‘60s American cars, and the non-electrochromic mirrors in cars such as the Camry of the past few generations were similar. The nice part about those was that the mount was of high quality, light didn’t reflect off the rim, and there was enough area to see out the back window. The new Gentex design is large enough to see all the window, but the edge of the mirror will reflect glare, the mount feels cheap (especially with everyone moving to the version with HomeLink buttons on the bottom, which is going to bump the thing out of adjustment more often, versus putting the HomeLink in the overhead console or on the driver’s sunvisor, as most makes except Toyota and Nissan (and maybe HyundKia) have done with the rimmed Gentex electrochromics with the HomeLink built-in), and as I’ve complained vociferously, I can’t un-see a weirdo clown staring at me from the windshield header! And even the refreshed LX 470, the Highlander, and the ES 300 are now sporting those abominations — surprisingly, the new Camry still gets the rimmed part!)

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      DSG is usually reserved for high end or performance trims.

      A traditional torque-converter automatic does just fine in an entry-level car, especially when it has 8 gears. Lower cost than DSG, too.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Perhaps VW might do as they did with the MkVI Jetta, and put a multilink rear back in later in the cycle.

        As I said, other than the axle and that narrow mirror, the rest of the car seems really well-executed, particularly the IP. (The car on display didn’t have power, so I couldn’t see the infotainment.) If VW can get reliability up, the Jetta will be a real competitive car in the segment.

        Unfortunately, my local VW dealer is still gawd-awful, and always will be…!

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          No one complained about the torsion beam in the TDI models of the Mk VII Golf, perhaps this will be similar since it’s also on MQB.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            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.

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