2014 Volkswagen Jetta

By Tom Crosby

Jetta is the most popular Volkswagen sold and for 2014 phased out the 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engines in its SE and SEL trims, moving to a third-generation 1.8 liter, turbo-charged direct injection four-cylinder engine with more pick-up and better gas mileage.

Jetta now offers three engines – the new gasoline-powered 1.8-liter, a 2.0-liter also gasoline-powered and a 2.0-liter turbo-charged diesel with direct injection that gets 43 miles per gallon on the highway.

Volkswagen Group of America plans to become the world’s largest automotive manufacturer by 2018 and the sixth generation, constantly improving; front-wheel drive small sedan Jetta is a key part of its global strategy.

Jetta model choices are the base S, SE, SEL, TDI and upscale GLI. Hybrid versions are also offered on the SE and SEL models. With the 1.8-liter gas engines, there are four choices – base, SE with Connectivity and SE with Connectivity and Sunroof (our test-drive with manual transmission; automatic optional) and SEL, which adds navigation, upgraded audio, automatic transmission and other features.

The new engine has the same horsepower but adds 7 more ft.-lbs. of torque at much lower rpms for better off-the-line starts and road grip but still remains slightly underpowered for spritely highway passing.

Handling was responsive with a new electric-assist system replacing the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.

The ride remained smooth at all times, helped by a new for 2014 sophisticated multi-link independent arrangement by VW with three transverse and one longitudinal link per wheel. That allowed much better reaction to road imperfections and tight turns.

Outside the Jetta has moderate good looks, adding a soft character line from headlight to rear for 2014.

Our SE, which added keyless access with the sunroof and Premium VIII touchscreen radio with CD changer, came standard with a six-month free trial of VW’s new Car-Net telematics that VW is rolling out across its fleet.

While not as robust or interactive as some other vehicle offerings, it includes automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing to set boundaries for teenage drivers. Linking with a smart-phone app allows a message to be sent if a driver crosses an established boundary line.

Inside, the Jetta offers ample occupant comfort, especially in the rear seats, and the 15.5 cubic foot trunk is exceptionally spacious for this size vehicle. Gauges are easily read and a standard iPod cable allowed connection with VW’s Media Device Interface for in-car use.

LIKES: Ride, handling, price, mileage, occupant/cargo space
DISLIKES: Low horsepower
BOTTOM LINE: Jetta continues to be price and performance competitive in small sedan market

FACT FILE: VW JETTA SE 2014 (Connectivity and Sunroof)

  • Base price with destination fee $22,885
  • Curb weight 3,021 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 104.4 inches
  • Length 182.2 inches
  • Width 70.0 inches
  • Engine specs 1.8 liter, inline, 4-cylinder, turbo
  • Horsepower 184 hp at 1,500 rpm
  • Torque 177 lbs.-ft. at 4,250 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • EPA Rating 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway
  • Range 14.5 gallon tank, regular gas
  • Performance 0-60 in about 8 seconds