Review and Test Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

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The 2019 Jetta is larger than the outgoing model, offers more interior room, and is chock full of the latest tech gear.  It’s hard to get underway when one is busy playing with the ten-color customizable ambient interior light system that runs across the dash, front and rear doors, and foot wells.  Reflector LED headlamps and LED taillights are standard.

The interior is more upscale and modern and fit and finish is generally quite good, although there were some questionable uses of somewhat cheap-looking plastic in places.  Some understanding, however, is required: This is, after all, a vehicle that starts out in base form at $18,745, the least expensive VW in the U.S. lineup.

We found the leather seats in the SEL Premium to be generally supportive and comfortable, even on longer drives.


The new Jetta is striking and the SEL Premium variant adds 17” alloy wheels, leather seats, navi, a fully digital instrument cluster, a good-sounding eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, a power-adjustable driver’s seat (but not the passenger seat), heated steering wheel, remote start, heated rear seats, and a clever heated windshield wiper park zone with heated washer nozzles.

Under the hood is an updated version of the 1.4-liter turbocharged four banger that was in the previous generation Jetta.  Somewhat surprisingly, there are three fewer horses (147 versus 150) compared to last year’s although the torque remains unchanged at 184 pound-feet.  In the end, torque = passing power and, with the Jetta’s lighter weight by 66 pounds (30 kilograms), intelligent use of the sport mode of the transmission can work wonders.

It’s worthwhile to note that the Jetta is available with a 6-speed manual, although our short-term review model came with the eight-speed automation.

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