Behind the Wheel

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Review: Good ole days of 'Betta Getta Jetta' have passed by

The Volkswagen Jetta has been redesigned for the 2019 model year but still isn't as good as its rivals.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

As catchy a marketing campaign as it is, the "Betta Getta Jetta," tagline falls flat when you test drive the latest iteration of the compact car. With stiff competition from the recently redesigned Toyota Corolla, Mazda Mazda3, and Kia Forte.

The Jetta a compact car that sits below the Passat and new Arteon in the German automaker's U.S. lineup. The Golf and Beetle are smaller than the Jetta. It was fully redesigned for the 2019 model year.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta The Volkswagen Jetta looks very similar to every other VW on the lot.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In every grade, the Jetta is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that produces 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission in the base model, but all subsequent trim levels come standard with an eight-speed automatic. The powertrain is competent but doesn't differentiate itself from the competition. It's fuel-efficient, achieving 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway regardless of transmission.

The compact car has a cabin filled with materials that are just "meh." Compared to the thoughtfully styled and appointed surfaces of the Mazda3 and high-quality design and materials in the Corolla and Forte, the Jetta just doesn't cut it, especially in its lower trims.

The Jetta comes standard with a 6.5-inch infotainment touch screen, four speakers, a USB port, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. That's a decent list but even when you add equipment like the dual-zone automatic climate control and 8-inch touch screen, the Jetta still looks cheaper than much of its competition.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta The interior of the Jetta is modern and straightforward.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Climate controls are intuitively laid out in the Jetta but certain functions, like dimming the driver information display, are controlled via the infotainment screen and frustratingly unavailable while driving at least as tested in the SE trim.

Unlike other vehicles in its class, the Jetta doesn't come standard with much driver assistance technology. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning are all available.

As is customary in Volkswagen cars, the seats in the Jetta aren't comfortable for long stretches of time but they are supportive, keeping a driver and passengers in place as the vehicle remains reasonably planted through twists and turns in the road. Unlike other vehicles in its class, the Jetta has enough room in its rear seat for two average sized adults.

2019 Volkwagen Jetta The Jetta has a good amount of passenger and cargo space.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This redesigned Jetta has less cargo space than you'd find in its previous generation but it still holds up versus the competition. There are a good number of nooks and crannies to store things in, in the cabin.

There are few compelling reasons to choose the Jetta over the Corolla, Forte, and Mazda3. Each of those vehicles does many things better than the Jetta, and delivers at least one stand-out reason to choose it over the Volkswagen. If you're in the market for a new compact car, skip the VW lot.