2017 Volkswagen Jetta Review
  • Car Review

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Review

By Autolist Editorial | August 20, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Stable, sporty handling.
  • Solid perceived build quality.
  • Delightful manual transmission.

Cons:

  • Plain and uninspiring exterior styling.
  • Lower trims' subpar interior materials.
  • No hybrid or diesel engines available.

Would we buy one? Yes.

Vehicle Type: 4-door, 5-seat compact sedan.

Price Range: In base trim, Volkswagen Jetta 1.4t pricing starts at an MSRP of $18,715.

Powertrain: The Volkswagen Jetta is available with three powertrains. Base trims use a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 150 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.

A turbo 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine is available, which makes 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic transmission.

Jetta GLI variants come with a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder putting out 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, pairing with a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission.

All Jetta models are front-wheel drive.

Competitors: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, and Chevrolet Cruze.

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Overall Score: 7.4/10

Safety Features: 9/10

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The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta does offer a compelling suite of safety features on higher trim levels. With available forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, the Volkswagen Jetta earns an IIHS 'Top Safety Pick Plus' award.

Lower trims get a few safety features, like daytime running lights, a rearview camera, and stability control. The Volkswagen Jetta also received a 5-star crash test safety rating from the NHTSA.


Value: 7/10

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The Volkswagen Jetta S is the base trim, it offers a reasonable starting price, and the base engine and transmission get the best gas mileage of the range. Basics like air conditioning and keyless entry are standard. The Volkswagen Jetta SE offers a slew of tech upgrades, heated front seats, standard alloy wheels, vinyl seats, and a sunroof. SEL trim adds even more features, moves up to the 1.8-liter engine, and comes standard with the automatic transmission. The sporty GLI trim gets a 6-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, and red accents and stitching on the seats and steering wheel liven up the interior. Some reviewers found the leatherette in the GLI to be sweaty and wished for a real leather option.

The Volkswagen Jetta offers a pretty compelling value at each level, from a no-nonsense commuter in the Base S trim to a genuinely fun and sporty compact sedan in the Jetta GLI.


Tech Features: 7/10

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The Volkswagen Jetta S gets a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and a lone USB port. Higher trims receive a 6.3-inch touchscreen. That touchscreen runs Volkswagen's well-executed infotainment system, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

To get features like a navigation system, buyers will have to step up the SEL trim level. The Jetta GLI offers a premium Fender sound system, which was well-reviewed.


Practicality: 8/10

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The Volkswagen Jetta offers impressive space for a compact car. Front-seat passengers have ample room to stretch out, and rear-seat passengers have adequate space as well. The rear seats do have a LATCH safety system, allowing for safe attachment of two car seats.

Reviewers all raved about the 15-cubic-foot trunk, one of the largest in the class, swallowing up several carry-on sized bags. The rear seats also fold down for stowing larger items.


Styling & Design: 5/10

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To say the Volkswagen Jetta does not have inspiring styling would be an understatement. It and its stablemate the Passat are so plainly penned as to be nearly indistinguishable. Part of the problem is the competition has been elevated, and every other car in the segment offers a more attractive, or at least exciting design.

The interior is similarly sparse, especially in lower trims. In a world where even compact car's base trims are outfitted with nicely designed interiors, the Jetta has too much cheap plastic and uncomfortable cloth on display. Higher trims get better materials, but the design is still behind where the rest of the market has gone more upscale.


Driving Experience: 8/10

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The Volkswagen Jetta offers a firmly planted but supple suspension, making for a secure and pleasant driving experience. Cars equipped with the manual transmission are blessed with the best stick shift in the class.

None of the three turbocharged engine options feel underpowered, and the Jetta GLI, which gets its engine from the Golf GTI, is downright fun to drive. All engine options are quiet, even at higher rpm's, and never drone in the interior. Regardless of the situation, the Volkswagen Jetta driver's seat is an excellent place to be.


Fuel Efficiency: 8/10

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With the Base 1.4-liter engine and manual transmission, the Volkswagen Jetta receives an EPA estimated fuel economy of 40 mpg highway, 28 city and 33 combined. Opting for the automatic drops mileage slightly to 38 hwy, 28 city, and 32 combined.

The 1.8-liter engine's EPA fuel economy numbers are 35 hwy, 25 city, and 29 combined with the automatic transmission.

The sporty 2.0-liter Volkswagen Jetta GLI gets gas mileage of 33 hwy mpg, 23 city, and 27 combined. The diesel TDI and Hybrid Jetta did not carry over to the 2017 model year.


More Photos

See more 2017 Volkswagen Jetta Photos.