Seeking a budget-friendly and fuel-efficient compact car? Look no further than the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta! It's just as fuel efficient, yet more cost effective compared to its hatchback relative - the VW Golf. The standard Jetta may meet your utilitarian needs, but if you're looking for an exhilarating driving experience that will bring out your inner enthusiast - this isn't it.
The GLI model fulfills the mission of providing a sportier driving experience, but we review that separately. The base Jetta has a reliable 147-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and can be paired with a manual transmission; however, this is only available on the base model. Even though the 2021 Jetta boasts impressive road manners and abundant trunk space, it lacks excitement—and unfortunately its top features are exclusive to upper trim levels which takes away from its overall value proposition.
Every Jetta is equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower, sending power to the front wheels. Available in both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions, we tested both models for acceleration times—albeit resulting in similar results which were only average compared to competitors. Off the line, it feels responsive yet lacks punch on highways when passing slower vehicles; an improved engine would make this car even better!
Although the sedan has a peaceful and quiet ride, it does not provide the same level of engagement as its cousin, the VW Golf hatchback. Its light steering is effortless but imprecise compared to competitors such as Mazda 3 or Honda Civic; you won't feel exhilaration when zipping roundabouts nor stability while cornering at higher speeds. Despite that, if you are looking for calm transportation without giving up on comfortability, then Jetta should be your go-to pick!
The interior of the Jetta is opulent, with excellent visibility and generous room for all passengers. Although each trim has more desirable features than the last, all cabins are focused on the driver's needs. We only wish that front seats were wider and had greater support. However, top-notch amenities such as customizable ambient lighting, a fully digital gauge cluster, and ventilated front seats can be found in models at higher price points.
Much to our surprise, the Jetta proved to have more cargo space than the Golf hatchback. The sedan's trunk held seven carry-on bags while five fit behind the Golf's rear seat. Even with its back seats folded down, the Jetta accommodated three additional suitcases - a grand total of 18! Furthermore, it has convenient door pockets and an expansive center console bin offering plenty of storage for small items.
The 2021 Jetta earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the sedan wasn't named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While several driver assists are available on every model, only the top two trims have adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.