2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL – Bottom Line Review

GOLFING FACT 1: The U.S. has over 15,000 registered golf courses.

GOLFING FACT 2: The European Union has less than 7,000 registered golf courses.

Alas, the car named Golf,  with its appropriately available dimpled ball shifter head, lacks the equivalent popularity of the small dimpled ball sport here.

For”e” in America, the Jetta sedan is the People’s Car Maker’s Golfing People’s car.

For a little perspective, in its peak U.S. year of 2014, 164,000 Jettas were sold in the U.S.A.. That constitutes about 3 times what Volkswagen Group sold in Europe during its best year of 2006.

What was once a Golf with a spliced trunk, sometimes called “Bora,” referring to northeasterly Adriatic gusts, bows once again to more American tastes, delivered by Jetstream winds.

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WHAT: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium Mk.7 BD (VW Group A7 platform) compact family sedan. Replaces Mk. 6 5C6 NMS Volkswagen Jetta. This is the first Jetta to incorporate VW’s corporate Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) modular platform.

Standard Power: transverse 1.4 L turbocharged DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 147 hp/ 184 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm + 8-speed automatic planetary gear transaxle, 3 [throttle, shift] Drive Modes  = Eco, Normal, Sport (customizable)


To Roadblazing.com eyes, the grille, now Passat wide and slatted = hexagonal. The head and tail lighting housings = pentagonal.  [Simulated] lower rear valance corner dual exhaust outlets are trapezoids. So are the Golf GTI styled fender badges denoting the trim. If you want to get technical about it all windows are trapezoids.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Note silhouette’s rakish hood line, down curved nose and up-turned tail

Hood valleys have become more prominent. Wheel arches have grown. Front bumper cover, belt-line and rocker panel creases have increased in quantity. The rear roofline, sloping to a raked backlight, then down to a generously upcurved trunk-lid, formed from the side belt-line creasing = quasi fastback. Then there’s the unmistakable kinship to the current Audi A3.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: More prominent upper and lower body creasing flows to near fastback rear deck.

Standard reflector LED lighting allows thinner housings than most else out there. However, but for the SEL Premium specific smoked Tornado Metallic 17″-inch wheels, the details don’t overcome typical compact sedan bland.

WHY: More flavorful butter for People’s Car Maker’s American bread

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Winter 2018.

WHERE: Volkswagen new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Puebla, Mexico

HOW STRONG: While a potential tuner’s nightmare, the denser air producing exhaust manifold – cylinder head combo delivers quick turbocharger spool up, hence the desired low engine speed high twist shove. As in 184 lb-ft at just 1400 rpm. The EA211 powerplant nearly dares anyone to say “diesel” [without the nitrites and clatter].

Part way into the throttle travel tip-in slows and the otherwise silky Aisin Warner 8-speed autobox can get caught dozing.  Sport mode partly remedies the dilatory downshifting. A sound cloistered cabin is subject to slight wind whistle and distant tire tread resonance on grooved concrete.

HOW LIMBER: Don’t tell the MQB platform that, through versatile wheel geometry, it can survive even with a rear torsion beam application. The setup’s shortcomings occur beyond 7/10ths, when some rear wheel tramp is displayed.  Meanwhile, seat sensations are of pliant damping and relatively taut motions.

An oversized “D” shaped steering wheel, with overboosted assist, belies tidy, responsiveness. Though the search is on for more directional telepathy and less mechanism groan.  Disc brakes make an encore appearance at all corners, more content with a steady foot rather than jabs.

HOW FAR: Expect to comfortably exceed Volkswagen’s estimates by achieving 37 miles per gallon combined fuel economy; A slightly large for segment 14 gallon onboard reservoir should deliver a solid 610 highway miles on regular grade 87 octane gas.

HOW BIG: Length = 3″ inches > than the last Mk. 6 Jetta wheelbase = almost 1″ inch less. Don’t tell that to the seemingly airier cockpit with deeper low cowl for improved forward view and greater width for wider seats and center console.

HOW LITTLE: Rear seat legroom has taken a half-inch hit. It feels like more. The front center console protrudes further into rear seat mid seat space than the Mk. 6 Jetta. The fastback rear roofline impedes the rear view.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Outboard heated seats, loses slightly in knee room department from Mk. 6 Jetta

HOW USEFUL: 3+ Golf bag capable trunk persists in rivaling mid-size sedan cargo holds; 60/40% split folding rear seat backs, trunk cable releases; Overhead retracting sunglasses bin; Deep lower center stack storage shelf w/ USB x 1;  8 bottle & large cupholders;  -1 Front door pocket length; -1 Thick trunk swing arms and deep bumper cover challenge some loads. -1 Lack of trunk floor cover tether.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Std. 60/40% split 2nd Row seat back improves on what is already a mid-size sedan trunk

HOW SAFE: receives Good marks across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): 6 airbags, Generous hot formed weight saving steel used in structure; -1 Jetta gets dinged for dimmer than preferred standard LED headlamps.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: native GPS HDD navigation vs. Android Auto, each with voice guidance, the latter with more versatile voice commands
2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Rear cross traffic warning

Driver assist technology: Rear camera w/ park gridlines, Blind spot + rear cross traffic warning, Rear side traffic alert braking; Lane departure warning,   Forward collision warning & avoidance; Pedestrian avoidance braking; Adaptive cruise control; Automatic high beam LED headlamps. -1 Lane keep assist prefers lane line hugging rather than centering;

HOW FRIENDLY: Wide girth substantial hip support & cushioned front bucket seats; Heated & cooled front seats, 8-way power driver’s;  Heated rear seats; Heated leather tilting, telescoping steering wheel; Front passenger’s height adjustable seat; 2-Zone automatic climate control; SPECIAL MENTION: 3- position driver’s seat, wing mirror memory; Personalized multiple drivers preferences.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: leather seats, heated cooled front, 8-way power driver’s, 3-position driver’s memory, heated tilt/ telescoping leather steering wheel

Cool Gizmo(s): 10.25″ selectable color LCD Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, including full native navigation map configuration;

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Drive mode dependent, configurable 10.25″ Digital Cockpit can display native GPS HDD navigation map

Details Done Right: Tight grained soft material upper dashboard; Minimized chrome bezeled switchgear; D-shape steering wheel with distinctive rocker action steering wheel spoke redundant media switches; Large pedals and channeled hard plastic dead pedal; 10-color variable LED cabin ambient lighting.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard, coarse grain mid – lower dashboard & door panels; -1 Fixed rear seat outboard headrests; -1 Center console missing switch blank caps; -1 Lacks VW Golf’s felt lined door pockets, sturdy cargo floor and overall polish.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE:  In-dash 8.0″-inch capacitive touch/ gesture LCD infotainment display; GPS HDD voice command guidance navigation; Voice learning hands-free communications; SMS text messaging; Android Auto/ Apple Car Play / MirrorLink wireless device overlays; +1 Easy to switch between smart device overlay and native navigation; CarNet Apps; 9-speaker, 400 Watt BEATS streaming & HD radio audio offers = distortion free volume, but excessively flat midrange.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Part of BEAT Audio 400 W, 8-speaker + trunk donut mounted subwoofer sound system

Subscription based: Sirius XM & Sirius XM TravelLink (90 days included trial); (3 years included), CarNet Info telematics valet

USB x 3, 12V x 1; +1 Deep lower center stack mobile device pocket;

-1 No onboard wireless charging option; Glossy infotainment screen = fingerprint magnifier; -1 Busy infotainment screen icons and drop-down sub-menus

+/- SMS connectivity requests permission at each start; Digital Cockpit display intermittently fails to load navigation map; CD Player inside glovebox.

HOW MUCH: $26,990 = 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium list price.

WHAT’S MISSING: Greater steering road feel; VW Golf’s polish; fewer Virtual Cockpit gremlins.

ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic: +1 Melodic powerplant, independent rear suspension; Hyundai Elantra: +1 Plush ride, cabin storage;  Kia Forte: +1 Cleaner styling, simpler infotainment;  Mazda 3: +1 Steering feel, cabin materials; Toyota Corolla: +1 Reliability; hybrid powertrain option.


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