2016 Volkswagen Jetta SEL
  • Exterior
  • Performance
  • Interior
  • Tech
  • Value
3.6

Summary

For the same amount of money as a Corolla or a Civic…you get something the size of a Camry or an Accord but with a superior drivetrain. As long as you can live with the interior.

Okay here is the thing with the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta.  It’s one of the best bang for the buck deals out there.  It costs the same as its compact sized competitors but the Jetta is significantly larger and comes with a class leading drivetrain.  The 1.8 liter turbo 4 cylinder ‘makes’ 170 horsepower and 184 ft/lbs of torque.  But in true German fashion it’s woefully underrated and is making closer to 190 horsepower and 200 ft/lbs of torque.  Pair that with a slick shifting 6 speed automatic and you get some amazing performance.  The 1.8 equipped Jetta is a true joy to flog around in a straight line, the torque comes on immediately and never tapers all the way to redline.  The mid range push puts a smile on your face each time you punch it.  Speaking of punching it, we got 28.7 MPG in our week of testing.  That is a tremendous number considering that the Jetta is not equipped with a craptastic CVT, minuscule boring motor or any electric assist.

Volkswagen Jetta Engine

The flip side of the equation is the interior.  Unfortunately there is not a sense of quality to the interior more like a sense of bean counting.  The Pleather lined seats (oops I mean Leatherette) were neither comfortable nor supportive, lacked any electric adjustments and squeaked upon entry and egress.  The dashboard and doors have some soft touch accents but unfortunately it is surrounded by circa 1990 Detroit quality hard, sharp and hollow plastics.   There is plenty of space and the controls are sensibly placed and easy to use.  VW also upgraded the infotainment rig and it now comes with CarPlay and Android Auto.

Now the driving dynamics is another underwhelming note.  You see Jetta and think sporty German driving experience.  Yeah no.  The steering is heavy but not a sporty way.   It’s devoid of feeling and feedback.   The car has a supposedly ‘euro’ inspired suspension but it feels like it was tuned by some dudes over at Home Depot.  It was rather harsh.  I can deal with harsh as long its confident inspiring and athletic.  It wasn’t.  It was just harsh.

I don’t meant to come across completely negative on the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta.   The drivetrain is the absolutely the gem of its class and for the money you are getting a lot of car.  If you can live with the interior materials and the ride….you have a solid choice in your hands.

Editorial Notes:

Okay since it is a VW and it is a turbo motor…that means you can tune the poop out of it.  How much poop can you get?  How about 240 horsepower and 290 ft/lbs of torque??  Do your own research but there are plenty of tuning companies out there to help you out.   Just don’t come crying to us when your warranty is voided.  🙂   — Yousef