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2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Compact Comfort

Ever since the diesel debacle Volkswagen has worked hard to redeem their brand's image. They've done recalls, buybacks, customer credits, firings, and hirings. Now that they've reset the bar on their image they can resume normal programming. That is - making new cars. For Volkswagen, their timeline involves two new models every year until 2020. Their goal is to replace or update every car in the Volkswagen family. 2017 saw the release of the Atlas and Tiguan. 2018 (Year of the sedan) will see the release of the Arteon and Jetta. Here's what the 2019 Jetta MKVII brings to the table:

Classy Confidence

Chevrolet may have commercials that make people think their cars look more expensive than their price but Volkswagen has always held that crown. Sometimes it's easy to forget the Jetta is in the same price bracket as a Honda Civic . However, while Honda uses wild styling for their compact sedan, Volkswagen keeps its poise and restraint when it comes to shaping their latest entry level model.

In the front the Jetta grille now has a trapezoidal shape instead of a flat rectangle. Air vents near the fog lights reduce drag in the wheel well. The hood bares deceivingly muscular creases. Underbody paneling has been aerodynamically shaped to improve fuel economy. The side sports a single continuous groove initiating from a fender trim badge terminating at the rear tail lights. In the rear Volkswagen punched a large indentation in the middle of the back - a questionable style choice. And the rear tailpipe exits are now integrated into the bumper - though only one of the two sides is open on this 1.4T example. Volkswagen says the drag coefficient is improved by 10%.

But the real improvements lie beneath the surface. The Jetta MKVII is built on Volkswagen's modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform. The same platform used in the latest Arteon and Golf. This translates to a 1.7-inch (43 mm) increase in overall length with a 1.4-inch (35 mm) longer wheelbase. Shifting the axles reduces front overhang while increasing rear overhang by several millimeters. The Jetta is also 0.8-inches wider and 0.2-inches taller. Compared to a 2018 Honda Civic, the Jetta is longer with a shorter wheelbase, taller, and sports the same width. The additional overhang in the rear gives the 2019 Jetta a rear cargo capacity of 18 cu-ft (510 liter) overall. Approximately 3 more cu-ft than a Civic sedan.

Tech Beats

Inside is where the new Jetta really shines. The entire cabin has been redesigned for added comfort with luxury-class options like customizable ambient LED lighting, 10.2-inch fully digital gauge cluster, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, and 400-watt sound system by Beats Audio (SEL or SEL Premium). Volkswagen repositioned the standard central touchscreen above the vents creating a shared space for two screens to form a gorgeous modern motif. The angular framing and layout are reminiscent of the 2018 Audi A7 - as if Audi said Volkswagen could copy their homework but don't make it too obvious.

Safety and assist features run the gamut for MKVII Jettas. Another benefit of changing to the MQB platform. LED headlights are standard across the board but features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear view camera, rear traffic alert, post-collision braking, and automatic high beams are optional extras. Automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitor are optional on base S trims but included on SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trims.

For infotainment, the Jetta provides Bluetooth, USB audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, and Spotify connectivity as standard. A USB port resides in an open section in front of the gear selector and a power socket is available near the cup holders. Utility wise the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, and Volkswagen mentions one engine making a return so far. A 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. Transmissions are standard 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic equipped with stop/start. Expect the 1.8T and 2.0T to also be available.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium, and R-Line trim models will be available in the U.S. starting 2nd quarter 2018.