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2015 Jetta: VW Refines its Best-Selling Sedan

By Sue Mead, December 13th, 2014

Not resting on the laurels of its top-selling car, Volkswagen redesigns the exterior of its 2015 Jetta, giving it new front and rear styling. The German automaker also updates the interior and adds a number of refinements and upgrades, including enhanced content, driver assistance systems, better fuel economy, and a new diesel engine.

Also new are available driver assistance systems such as a rearview camera system and blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert on select trims. A new limited-edition 1.8T Sport trim level gets a sport suspension, front sport seats, navigation, rearview camera, rear spoiler, two-tone 17-inch wheels, fog lights, plus VW Car-Net connected car features.

The sedan's wheelbase is 104.4 inches, which, when combined with a wide-mouthed grille and coupe-like looks, gives the five-passenger Jetta the appearance of a curve-hugging sports car. Trapezoidal headlamps and black grille slats add elegance, while the redesigned radiator grille wears three cross fins. Air intakes reduce drag, as do new rain gutters and paneling at the rear axle that, along with the sill covers with wheel spoilers and modified brake ventilation channels (1.8T only), help maintain a smooth flow of air.

Optional Bi-Xenon headlights (with adaptive front lights that can swivel up to 15 degrees to help you see in turns) have a distinctive design; each daytime running light is formed by 15 LEDs arranged in an L-shaped string alongside and beneath the Xenon modules. This updated look is further accentuated by chrome accents and optional fog lights in the outer areas of the bumper.

Inside is a roomy and comfortable layout offering 38.1 inches of legroom and 37.1 inches of headroom for rear passengers. The rear seat splits and folds 60/40 and can be ordered with a pass-through to accommodate longer items; the trunk has 15.5 cu.-ft. of cargo space.

Interior updates for 2015 include a "tunnel" design of the chrome-trimmed instrument cluster gauges. Several optional features based on trim level include a new multifunction steering wheel, redesigned air vent controls, piano black and chrome accents, ambient lighting, and new seating fabrics. Standard equipment and options packages are also updated, including new driver assistance systems and touchscreen navigation.

Jetta has three choices of four-cylinder gasoline engines, a 1.4-liter turbocharged hybrid, plus a new 2.0-liter turbocharged TDI Clean Diesel engine boasting 150 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Jetta starts at $17,325. We recently drove all of the Jetta models, but concentrated on the 2015 Jetta TDI SEL trim, with a starting price of $27,510 powered by VW's all-new diesel platform. One of the most fuel-efficient engines in its class, it boasts 10 horsepower more than the engine it replaces.

Volkswagen improves aerodynamics and adds reduced-rolling-resistant tires to increase the Jetta's efficiency across the lineup. The fuel economy is impressive: The manual transmission gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 31/46 mpg (city/highway), an increase of 4 mpg on the highway that allows it to travel some 450 miles between fuel stops. We're also impressed by the potent torque on tap that comes in at a wide rpm range of 1,750 to 3,500.

We drove it over a course of mixed driving terrain that included the winding, twisty country two-lanes of northern Virginia and on four-lane highways. Stepping into the well-equipped cabin, we noted the attractive interior with quality materials, the updated gauge cluster, and the good ergonomics of this midsize compact that feels larger inside than many of its competitors.

The driving dynamics stand out with a combination of low-end torque that comes at-the-ready from this automaker's sophisticated powerplant and its fast-responding automatic transmission, along with linear steering, strong brakes, and a supple suspension that gives the Jetta a comfortable and road-holding ride in general and a sports-performance ride in tight corners.

Its best attribute is the quiet engine that makes it easy to forget you're motoring a diesel, and the throttle tuning that makes it easy to remember you're in a German-engineered compact sedan designed not simply for fuel economy but also for great driving dynamics.

Specifications

Base price $27,510 (as tested: $28,330)
Curb weight 3,296 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 4-cylinder turbodiesel w/DI
Epa mileage rating 31 mpg city, 45 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 150 at 3500 rpm
Overall length 183.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 236 at 1750 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact sedan
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