2024 Volkswagen Jetta – Go Getter


Compact sedans are not as appealing as they used to be for many reasons, but they are severely overshadowed by more expensive SUVs and Crossovers. When you need a vehicle for basic transportation, there aren’t many choices left compared to a decade ago. The 2024 Volkswagen Jetta remains one of the few affordable compact sedans that doesn’t feel like cardboard, even with the base trim.

The Jetta nameplate has been on the market for several decades, but it is also called a “Golf with a trunk” by North Americans, but it is no longer the case. Even though it shares its MQB platform with the Golf, like most Volkswagens, the latest generation Jetta looks completely different. It is important to remember the latest generation Jetta has more weight on its shoulders after the departure of the Volkswagen Passat in the North American market.

The Looks – Exterior and Interior

The 7th generation Jetta is one of the biggest compact sedans available, it is pretty close to mid-size sedans in terms of overall dimensions. Volkswagen updated the Jetta in 2022 but the changes are quite subtle, the biggest changes were different bumper designs, but the front fascia and the rear end look very similar compared to older models. Our tester is the base Trendline trim, but it still has a lot of chrome parts and small details that give the Jetta a little bit more upscale look, at least it doesn’t look like a rental vehicle from a distance.

The Jetta is one of the few modern Volkswagens left with actual physical controls, and that can be appealing to people who are trying to avoid big screens and touch-sensitive buttons. The interior is still quite monochromatic and bland for some people, but it doesn’t feel cheap for a base trim vehicle. You still get a digital instrument cluster, even though it is not very customizable, it is a very simple vehicle and easy to live with every day. There are some cost-cutting measures only noticeable if you are coming from higher trims, but if you consider the price tag the interior is perfectly acceptable.

One of the most noticeable cost-cutting measures is the cloth seats, but I think it may be the right choice for colder weather, you still get heated seats and a heated steering wheel even with the base trim. The seats are fully manual and don’t have a lot of adjustment options as expected, and I would prefer it over the power seats without memory seats, as you can move the seat forward and back so much faster.

The Jetta offers a really good amount of legroom and headroom for all passengers. As it is one of the biggest entries in the compact sedan segment, it pays dividends when it comes to the interior space. At 6’1″, I can sit right behind my seating position in the rear seats and I still have a few inches of legroom. You can install a rear-facing child seat and do not even have to move the passenger seat forward a lot. The only gripe I had was the integrated headrests for the rear seat passengers, which can be a pain if you are installing a front-facing child seat and using the top latch to secure it.

Rear-seat passengers do not get any luxury features, but if you choose the higher trims rear seat passengers get the heated seat option. For the base trim Jetta it is totally acceptable, but I wish Volkswagen offered air vents and USB ports for the rear seat passengers, as it is a feature that we see in other entries in this segment.

The 7th generation Jetta offers above-average trunk space in its class, but it is important to remember the fact that it is still a sedan. You will not get a huge vertical space, but the Jetta shines if you place items longitudinally. You can simply fold down the rear seats which have a 60/40 split-folding orientation and you can place much longer items than any hatchback or small SUV.

The Drive – Specs & Experience

Volkswagen Jetta offers two different engine options. All trims come with the turbocharged 1.5 TSI engine that pushes 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The 1.5 turbo engine is used in other Volkswagen models, and it is a tried-and-true platform that prioritizes fuel economy and smoothness. The Jetta will not blow you away in terms of acceleration, but it is adequate for most situations. The 1.5 turbo engine stands out when it comes to fuel economy, we were averaging around 6 litres at 100 kilometres. If you are looking for more performance, there is the Jetta GLI with its 2.0-litre turbo engine that offers much more horsepower.

The most important feature that puts the Jetta in a unique spot in the compact sedan segment is the available manual transmission. Unlike most brands, Volkswagen does not force you to choose an automatic, or manual with limited trim options. You can choose manual transmission with the base, mid-trim, and performance-oriented GLI. Volkswagen recently announced that they are sunsetting the manual transmission option with the Golf R and the GTI, so this decision puts the Jetta on the spot as it is going to be the last Volkswagen with a manual transmission.

For sure the manual transmission is fun and engaging to drive, but the long gear ratios make the Jetta feel slower. The engine offers a decent amount of roll-on power above 2000 RPMs, but even that can’t be enough if you want to accelerate at higher speeds, you may have to downshift 1-2 gears to get going. Either way, it is probably one of the easiest manual transmissions available. The throttle mapping is very smooth, the clutch is predictable, and the shifts are very easy. If you want to learn how to drive a stick shift, this can be a great one to start.

Aside from the engine and transmission, the Jetta offers a refined driving experience that you would not expect from this price range. As it shares its platform with any other MQB vehicle, the noise, vibration and harshness levels are lower than most Japanese entries in this segment. The Jetta interior may not have the highest quality or best material choices, but it is right where you expect from a budget-oriented sedan. The only area that felt cheap is the head unit and the screen quality, but Volkswagen did a great job with the latest updates especially in the interior, now it really doesn’t feel like a rental car.

The Verdict

Volkswagen is one of the few auto manufacturers standing its ground on the sedan front, and the Jetta still offers one of the few manual transmission options available in the market. The 7th generation Volkswagen Jetta does everything we throw at it exceptionally well on a daily basis, especially for a car that costs less than $30,000.

It is comfortable, easy to drive, easy to get in and out, offers tons of space for all passengers, has a usable cargo space, good on gas without breaking the bank. Volkswagen not only offers the manual transmission option with the base trim, you can also get the mid-trim (Comfortline) with a stick shift, which might be a better fit for most people with extra features.

Engine1.5-litre turbocharged inline-4
Transmission & Drivetrain6-speed manual & front-wheel-drive
Max power158 hp @ 5500 rpm
Max torque184 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
0-100 km/h8.1 seconds
Curb Weight2937 lb – 1332 kg
Fuel Economy (observed)34 MPG – 7.0 L/100 km
Price (starting at)$26,078

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *