Mountain Wheels: All-new VW Jetta hopes to attract broader fan base | SummitDaily.com

Mountain Wheels: All-new VW Jetta hopes to attract broader fan base

Andy Stonehouse
Mountain Wheels

While it's almost certain that nearly everyone in the U.S. has had (or has been gifted a hand-me-down) Toyota Camry, if you're looking for the European-made equivalent, the Volkswagen Jetta is a pretty close comparison.

More than three million have been sold since the car was introduced in the U.S. in 1980, but with Volkswagen's ongoing directive to sell way more automobiles here — the new SUVs are already helping — the all-new 2019 Jetta may change a few minds and attract some new customers.

We headed off to Durham, North Carolina, earlier this week — a once-decimated tobacco town that's reinventing itself as a high-tech destination for East Coast entrepreneurs and hipsters — to roll the new, seventh-generation Jetta around, including a trip through the real UNC (the University of North Carolina).

The Jetta is the newest vehicle to be produced on a standardized platform shared with the Golf, Atlas and Tiguan, allowing Volkswagen the capability to add and adapt new vehicles in a more streamlined fashion.

The 2019 edition of Jetta, like the more recent Passats, is created with the American market in mind, making it sporty but comfortable, fuel efficient and spacious enough for our plus-size needs.

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The 2019 edition of Jetta, like the more recent Passats, is created with the American market in mind, making it sporty but comfortable, fuel efficient and spacious enough for our plus-size needs.

The car grows slightly in overall dimensions, with a more streamlined drag coefficient, while legroom (somewhat oddly) drops a few fractions of an inch, both front and back.

Visuals are probably the biggest transformation from the sixth generation, with the new car incorporating a more dynamic, chrome-highlighted waterfall grille, thinner and longer LED headlamps and some very serious character lines along the top and bottom of the cabin.

You can also order it up in five increasingly striking model variants, including a well-loaded SEL Premium and even an appearance-enhanced R-Line, with swirling 17-inch alloy wheels that look almost aftermarket.

The saucy looks also carry over to the redesigned insides, with a 10-color ambient lighting profile that extends into the available digital cockpit instrument display (which can even bring navigation maps into direct view) and a more focused cockpit design in general.

Jetta also prides itself on affordability, with a manual transmission version of the base S model (yes, it's a model that still offers a manual, thankfully) that retails for $18,545. You'll still get LED headlamps, a rearview camera, automatic rear collision-prevention braking, a 6.5-inch color display and many of the line's safety systems.

The range tops out with a $26,945 SEL Premium, which gains the whole package — ventilated leather sport seats, a larger touchscreen navigation interface and … The Chronic.

I mention that as a tease to the feature the company most heavily promoted during our product presentation — Volkswagen's new partnership with Dr. Dre's Beats Audio (underwritten by Apple, of course). For Jetta purposes, that includes an optimized, 400-watt stereo system with eight speakers and a bumpin' sub in the trunk, with which you might play "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" over and over, at substantial volumes.

Power is slightly more austere than all that bluster, but not bad for getting the car around, efficiently. The standard engine is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo rated for just 147 horsepower, but the extra boost ought to help with your hometown hillclimbs. An eight-speed automatic is your other option; both transmissions generate up to 40 MPG on the highway.

A four-stage driving mode selector system also allows optimized shifting and tightened steering for some more sporty outings.

As an added value to you and whoever might inherit your new Jetta, VW is also providing a six-year, 72,000 bumper-to-bumper limited warranty that is fully transferable to future owners.