I’ve always liked the Volkswagen Jetta. In fact when my son bought his first car we chose a fourth generation Jetta. We liked both the looks and the sporty handling. Heck, we even have a dog named Jetta!
I point that out because I don’t feel nearly as excited about the 2015 Jetta. Oh, the car works great. My test car was the hybrid and it’s actually one of the quicker cars in this class. No, it’s the looks that leave me luke warm.
VW came out with the current generation Jetta about five years ago. They gave it a mild freshening for 2015. There’s nothing wrong with the look, but then there’s nothing special about it either. Interestingly, its looks seem to blend in with the mid-sized crowd more than the compact group where it belongs. That’s too bad, because some of the compacts on the market are more interesting. I actually had a hard time picking the Jetta out in a parking lot one day. I understand that styling is tricky. Too far in one direction and you get a car that is ahead of its time. Too far in the other and you get the Pontiac Aztek. I think VW’s efforts to appeal to the mid-sized market left it without much in the way of distinguishing features. Mind you, it’s not bad looking. It just doesn’t stand out the way previous generations did.
As I mentioned, I had the hybrid. It mixes a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 27 horsepower electric motor. The gasoline engine delivers 150 horsepower. It all gets sent to the wheels through seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox. VW points out that the hybrid has three power ranges: electric, eco and boost. The Jetta hybrid is OK off the line, but I really enjoyed the mid-range oomph. Over 37 MPH the turbo kicks in nicely and makes you feel like confident when you’re accelerating onto a freeway.
The EPA rating for the Jetta Hybrid is 42 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 45 mpg. While that’s 5 mpg less than the Toyota Prius, it’s better than other hybrids like the Ford Fusion or the Hyundai Sonata. For some reason I didn’t get great mileage during my week with the Jetta. But I’ve read other reviewers who came close to the EPA numbers so I’m going to assume it was me. The only thing to remember is that the car requires premium fuel. When you’re doing the math about whether the hybrid is worth the investment, don’t forget to factor in the extra cost for gasoline.
I like the understated dash design inside the Jetta. Some cars are trying to wow you with technology or space age looks. VW has obviously taken a different approach and I think it works. The instruments, display and controls have a smooth and sleek look. It’s not pretending to be a luxury car and it’s not trying to bling you. The display is a little bit on the smallish side. Not tiny, just not as big as some cars. The larger displays are nice when you’re using the backup camera. The interface controls worked well.
I found the seats comfortable. I was especially impressed with the rear seat which has more than 38 inches of leg room. That’s a lot for a compact car. I used the pass through channel that comes from the trunk and allows you to carry long items like skis or sprinkler pipes (since I don’t ski, sprinkler pipes are much more likely!). It was handy and worked well.
Price for the 2015 Jetta Hybrid is $31,940. It only comes in a Premium edition that gives you things like automatic Bi-Xenon headlights and some cool lighting that turn with the car to light up where you’re going. You also get rain-sensing wipers with heated windshield washer nozzles; rear spoiler; power heated side mirrors; auto-dimming rearview mirror and 17-inch “Buenos Aires” aluminum-alloy wheels.
The 2015 Jetta Hybrid has plenty of things going for it. It’s larger than most of the compacts in its class and that back seat is great. Mileage may not be up with the Prius, but it’s better than other cars in the class. You simply have to decide if you like the car’s looks. I’m not sure. Just don’t tell my dog that I’m having doubts.