Redesign sparks sales push for ‘19 VW Jetta

The new Volkswagen Jetta in Poudre Canyon. (Bud Wells photos)

Looking good in my driveway was the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta, redesigned with a small turbocharged engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, and sporting an exterior of “tornado red.”

With a sticker of $25,625, the moderate pricing and new appearance should revive interest in the compact four-door, which, along with other VWs, suffered a sales slump following a diesel-emissions-test scandal three years ago.

This Jetta is 2 inches longer than the ’18 model and 200 pounds lighter and boasts of 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Jetta, a part of the U.S. market for almost 40 years, competes against a strong lineup of compact sedans, including the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla.

Sales through the first seven months of 2018 are Civic 202,563, Corolla 188,216, Sentra 135,038, Elantra 113,481, Cruze 88,133, Focus 84,094, Forte 61,946, Impreza 45,200, Mazda3 41,062. The Jetta trailed the others with sales of 39,361.

Jan and I one morning drove it to Fort Collins and on up the Poudre Canyon as far as the old Mishawaka Inn, where during lunch we were entertained by the hummingbirds at the feeders outside the windows and the dozens of kayakers and rafters in the river below.

A short way down the canyon on our return drive we took a right onto the Stove Prairie Road and followed the narrow, twisting highway to Masonville, onto U.S. 34 through Loveland and back home to Greeley.

The Jetta rode quietly and handled well. The 1.4 turboed engine is fairly mild with 147 horsepower, though its torque is enough to provide power in passing and climbing. The 8-speed transmission shifter can be moved into Sport mode, from Eco or Normal, for improved response; I used 3rd and 4th gears much of the way up and down.

The grille in the ’19 Jetta is more prominent than previous models.

It is an attractive sedan, though its large three-bar grille looks like something borrowed from a Ford Fusion back about ’07. The leatherette seats are heated in the front row. They’re lightly bolstered and firmly cushioned. Trunk space is 14 cubic feet. Suspension includes front struts and a torsion-beam setup at the rear. The Jetta rides on Bridgestone Ecopia 205/60R16 tires.

The Jetta SEL, without navigation, is the lowest-priced model to come my way since February, when a below-$20,000 Honda Fit was provided.

Highlighting the Jetta’s equipment list are safety innovations – forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, active cruise and active blind-spot monitor. It also has a BeatsAudio premium sound system with subwoofer, Bluetooth connectivity and voice control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof and automatic LED headlights.

Lots of highway driving kept the fuel-mileage average at a respectable 35.3 miles per gallon; its EPA estimate is 30/40. The Jetta is built in Puebla, Mexico. Its specifications include wheelbase of 105.7 inches, overall length of 185.1, width of 70.8, height of 57.4, weight of 2,890 pounds, turning ciricle of 35 feet. It runs on regular unleaded fuel.