2017 Volkswagen Jetta Driving Impressions

Roadholding and precise handling are the top Jetta benefits, scoring higher than most competitors, except for the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus. Ride quality also excels. Excellent suspension control yields an absorbent ride, nearly eliminating the bounding suffered by some compact sedans.

All Jettas have electric power steering, which behaves well. Brakes feel strong and inspire confidence. A Jetta can dash around corners more confidently than some popular rivals.

Tauter springs and shock absorbers, coupled with slightly lower ride height, help give the GLI more precise road behavior. Steering feels a bit sharper.

A base model with the 1.4-liter engine takes more than seven seconds to reach 60 mph, yet feels lively, though not exactly quiet when accelerating emphatically. The 1.8-liter isn’t noticeably swifter, but feels a bit more confident and energetic. Better-sounding, too. Jettas with either engine are enjoyable to drive. Most available engine power arrives at lower speeds.

The GLI’s 2.0-liter engine delivers stimulating, consistent power through 6,000 rpm. Expect some noise when pushing hard. Shifts from the 6-speed manual gearbox feel a bit notchy. The optional dual-clutch automatic reacts promptly, especially when paddle-shifted.

The 1.4-liter base engine is the thriftiest, EPA-rated at 28/38 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined, with automatic. Manual shift raises the highway estimate to 40 mpg. The 1.8-liter four is EPA-rated at 25/35 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. With automatic, the GLI’s 2.0-liter engine is EPA-rated at 24/33 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined.

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