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Auto review: Redesign shifts VW Jetta to 7th generation

January 3, 2019

Introduced in 1979, the Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan moves into its seventh generation for 2019, completely redesigned with a new chassis and all-new bodywork.

While the first generation was boxy with sharp angles the design has softened through the years, though the latest model retains the VW hallmark of classic precision. Bauhaus design inspiration puts utility first and avoids excessive ornamentation, according to the German automaker.

The new Jetta is now based on the award-winning MQB platform (shared modular design construction of VW’s transverse, front-engine, front-wheel-drive vehicles), with bolder design, more interior space, innovative technology, and a lower base price.

Jetta is available in S ($18,545, more new technology and features, lower price), SE ($22,155, upscale driver-assistance and convenience systems), R-Line ($22,995, first for Jetta, sporty styling), SEL ($24,415, innovative Digital Cockpit, and 10-color ambient lighting), and SEL Premium ($26,945, luxury touches such as navigation and leather seats with front ventilation).

All Jettas come with the Volkswagen People First Warranty — six years or 72,000 miles, bumper-to-bumper, transferable to subsequent owners.

A 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower is mated to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode.

The all-new eight-speed automatic offers two additional gears over its predecessor, while weighing the same. The shorter first gear provides faster acceleration. Both manual and automatic configurations are EPA rated for 30 mpg city/40 highway/34 combined. I managed 36.3 mpg, driving mostly on the highway.

Standard Start/Stop technology on the automatic-transmission models promotes fuel economy by stopping the engine during idling, then restarting seamlessly when the brake pedal is released.

Eight exterior colors are available, depending on trim level, including new Habanero Orange (fire, $295) and Sage (gray/green, exclusive to SEL and SEL Premium). Interiors come in Premium Cloth or V-Tex leatherette in Titan Black, Storm Gray, or Dark Beige, depending on trim level and exterior color chosen.

Jetta now has a unique light “signature,” with all-new standard LED daytime running lights, which, along with the standard automatic LED headlights, combine with the trapezoidal grille for a wide front graphic, creating a lower, sleeker appearance.

The grille is composed of four horizontal chrome bars (one large bar across the top), with two flowing into the angular headlight housing, connecting to the chrome-trimmed LEDs for a wraparound effect.

The redesigned interior was engineered for more comfort, and has more headroom, knee room and shoulder room than the previous Jetta.

The most technologically advanced Jetta ever is still fun-to-drive, and even better looking and more comfortable.

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