2020 Volkswagen Jetta – Re- Driven Review – Got Five & Luggage?

2020 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium:

IN THE RACE TO MATURE COMPACT ROOMINESS:  when introduced last year, the Mk. 7 Volkswagen Jetta improved on it’s predecessor’s mission with the adoption of the vaunted MQB platform. Even though it skimped on a few of the related VW Golf hatchback’s virtues, Roadblazing.com editors assessed the revised Teutonic compact sedan as “…more flavorful butter for People’s Car Maker’s American bread…,” in Roadblazing.com’s 2019 VW Jetta Bottom Line Review.

RE-RUN RUMINATIONS:  A recent second spin in the mostly unchanged 2020 VW Jetta SEL yielded the following impressions:

Driving Hits:

  • All 184 lb-ft of torque at just 1500 rpm
  • A real torque converter 8-speed automatic transaxle (syrupy 6-speed manual std.)
  • 36 combined miles per gallon
  • 500+ miles fuel tank range
  • MQB platform permits tauter body control despite softer damping
  • Cabin impressively immune to road & drivetrain noise

Driving Misses:

  • Lower horsepower number felt at triple digits
  • Rear torsion beam rather than Golf’s independent rear suspension
  • Occasional rear axle tramp
  • Little steering road feel
  • Braking body dive
  • Low all-season tire dry grip
2020 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: family sedan cops a simulated fastback shape

What It Has Got:

  • Low price: from $19,815 (incl. destination) for a 6-speed manual 2020 Volkswagen Jetta S. Add $800 for the 8-speed automatic transaxle.
  • More expressive wide hood valleys, eggcrate grille, trapezoid dual exhaust cutouts
  • Accommodates 5 adults & their week’s worth of luggage
  • Above par standard feature set
    • Heated front seats on lower (SE and above) trims
  • Android Auto, AppleCar Play and MirrorLink phone projection standard
  • Acceptably good safety features & ratings
    • IIHS Good across the board
  • Driver assist tech included on lower trims (SE)
    • Collision avoidance pre-braking, blind spot & rear cross traffic warning
  • 4 year / 50,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty includes 2 years maintenance

What It Has Not (or Not Preferred):

  • Silly simulated fender portholes
  • Seat cushions too firm
  • Seat cushions too short
  • Fixed rear seat headrests
  • No sliding front center armest
  • Apogee of cabin finish austerity
    • Exposed door frames
    • Standard gauges paltry
    • Lacks Golf’s felt lined door pockets and better panel fit
  • Instrument panel illumination only accessible via infotainment when parked
  • Advanced driver assist only on higher trims
  • Digital Cockpit only on higher trims
  • 2 years / 22k miles shorter warranty from 2019 MY

Standout Cool [SEL Premium] Feature(s):

  • Digital Cockpit configurable LCD instrument cluster w/ embeddable navigation map
  • Customizable variable night cabin accent illumination
2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium: Drive mode dependent, configurable 10.25″ Digital Cockpit can display native GPS HDD navigation map


Mid-level Jetta R-Line is the only one available with the XDS limited slip front axle capability and is equipped with larger 17″ wheels and blacked-out chrome dress treatment.


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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.


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