The 10 best and worst things about the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. —Volkswagen

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is all-new this year, and this mild-mannered sedan gets quite an update.

Sedan sales are slowing as crossovers take their place, but there are still plenty of reasons to consider a sedan. For 2019, Volkswagen updated the Jetta in just the right places to make sure it isn’t forgotten in the race toward crossovers.

Here are the 10 best and worst things about the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta based on our test drive:

The best things about the new Jetta:

1. The fresh styling.

The Jetta has been around for a long while, and over the years, Volkswagen has tweaked the sheet metal to keep it looking stylish. This year, the Jetta takes a leap forward and ditches the ho-hum design that made it blend in with the scenery these last few years. There are more creases in the hood, a sloped roofline that gives it a touch of coupe styling, and LED headlights for a more modern look.

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2. The smooth ride.

Sedans are all about carrying people in comfort, and the Jetta is up to the task. The ride is smooth and composed so passengers won’t be bothered with whatever is happening on the other side of the glass. The driver gets an easy job with light, manageable steering that won’t tire over longer road trips.

3. It’s reasonably priced.

There’s a choice of five trim levels starting with the base S at $18,545, making the Jetta an affordable choice for those on a budget. That base model also has a six-speed manual transmission, but it’s also available with the eight-speed automatic that’s standard on the rest of the lineup. Even the top SEL Premium trim is priced at $26,945.

4. It has great fuel economy.

The Jetta gets an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon in the city, 40 on the highway, and 34 combined. This makes it a solid commuter car or road-tripper, and it also won’t be a budget-buster when gas prices increase.

5. It’s spacious.

This isn’t a full-size sedan, so it’s not the kind of car you can lounge in, but it still has a surprisingly comfortable, roomy back seat. It easily accommodates two adults and can even seat three in a pinch, although that’s best suited to shorter trips.

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6. The infotainment system.

Even the base Jetta comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Audio. There’s also an available 8-inch touchscreen and a Beats premium audio system.

The worst things about the new Jetta:

7. The R-Line trim is just for looks.

The R-Line is the sportiest trim of the lot, but unfortunately, it’s only styling. There is an electronic differential, but it’s mechanically the same and provides no extra power under the hood. Although the R-Line has a body kit that adds to its visual appeal, this does nothing for how the Jetta drives.

8. The engine.

The Jetta comes with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s a perfectly fine engine with turbocharging that gives it a bit more life, but you’re not going to win any races. It handles high-speed highway merges well, but if you’re looking for a spirited drive, this is not the vehicle.

9. It’s manual-only on the base trim.

Manual transmissions just don’t get the love they once did, and that’s a shame. The Jetta offers a six-speed manual, but only on the base trim, so if you want the fun of rowing through the gears on your own, you have exactly one choice. It would be nice to have it on some of the higher trims, too.

10. The interior is lackluster.

This isn’t a luxury car, so no one expects it to look like one, but Volkswagen could do better on the interior. While some of the materials look high-quality and feel nice to the touch, there’s still an abundance of plastic that ensures you won’t forget the Jetta is an affordable car.