Overview

Overview

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta continues a long and storied history of the German-engineered compact sedan, dating back to its inception in 1979. The Jetta is still in the sixth generation of production, known as Volkswagen's New Compact Sedan (NCS) line, which began in 2010.  This model year continues the hybrid line of the Jetta as well as maintaining the diesel option in the standard line.

One of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta is the cost-cutting measure that needed to be taken in the North American versions. Volkswagen needed to make the model cheaper to produce in order to compete with the rival Toyota Corolla in the North American market. This led to some corner-cutting on interior materials quality and it shows in several of the reviews.

Expert Reviews

Experts are up and down across the board on the new-model Jetta. It's clear that there are things to like about it. "It has all the features Jetta enthusiasts have been clamoring for, plus most of the traditional performance. It will appeal to the mass market with its supple, sport-tuned suspension and agreeable looks." (Motor Trend) Edmunds praises its roominess and spacious trunk. The diesel option, always a favorite among experts, remains a popular choice. "Reliability of the diesel version has improved to average and is recommended" (Consumer Reports)

Unfortunately, that's about as far as the praise goes for the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. "Handling lacks agility and interior fit and finish is unimpressive in most versions. The coarse-sounding 2.5-liter five-cylinder gets a mediocre 25 mpg overall. The four-cylinder diesel gets an impressive 34 mpg overall, but the automated manual transmission is not smooth at very low speeds." (Consumer Reports) "Base models have an appealing price but lack the character and content of their predecessors, while well-equipped models quickly lose their pricing competitiveness." (Kelley Blue Book)

As far as performance goes, most experts agree that mediocre is the key word. No one area stands out above any other. "Brake feel is just so-so." (Car and Driver) "The GLI shines ... and comes off as a true sports sedan, with responsive moves and little body lean in fast turns. Other Jettas, however, are not particularly sporty, which is disappointing for a Volkswagen." (Consumer Guide)

Owner Reviews

Despite what the experts say, owners still seem to find plenty to love about the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. "I love my Jetta. I love diesel engines, especially when [they get] over 40mpg." (Owner review taken from Kelley Blue Book) "Bluetooth sounds very crisp and clear. The telescopic and tilt wheel makes for good comfort." (Owner review taken from Kelley Blue Book) It is the roominess and comfort that seems to win out among most owners. The 15.5-cubic-foot trunk is the largest one can find in this class.

Many owners praise the power from the 2.0L diesel and both gasoline options, the 2.0L four-cylinder and the 2.5L inline-five-cylinder. The additional power prowess provides for a nice, and at times invigorating, driving experience. The noisiness of the 2.5L is definitely noticeable though. The technological features are highlighted by the easily-operable Bluetooth system, satellite radio, and the handy push-button start. The hard plastics festooning the interior aren't much of a hit with anyone.

Perhaps the biggest surprise among owner reviews was the fact that the feature people were most pleased with had nothing to do with the car itself. The greatest aspect to the 2013 Jetta is the service that comes along with owning a Volkswagen. Not only has the German engineer developed a reputation for steadfast reliability, it also provides some of the best customer service should anything happen to your vehicle.

Lineup

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta comes in seven different trim options, providing a bevy of choices for potential owners. It starts with the Base model, equipped with the 2.0L four-cylinder and the five-speed manual transmission. From there, potential buyers can move up the S model (which adds air conditioning, power/heated side mirrors and all the keyless entry gadgets), the SE model (which adds the 2.5L five-cylinder engine, satellite radio, power lumbar seats, and mp3 features), the SE PZEV (which adds the six-speed automatic transmission), the SEL PZEV, the standard SEL (which is basically the SEL PZEV equipped with the five-speed manual transmission), and topping it all off is the diesel-powered TDI model. MSRPs start at $15,545 for the Base model and climb up to $22,990 for the TDI.

Interior

If you're looking to boost the interior presence of the 2013 Jetta, you'll want to check out the Convenience Package. Available on the SE model and above, the Convenience package includes heated front seats, a six-speaker upgraded sound system, Bluetooth and the iPod interface. The 16-inch alloy wheels don't add much to the interior, but they flash up the exterior and also come along with Convenience Package.

Going a step further and garnering the Premium Package will add a sunroof and a Fender sound system with touchscreen interface. The touchscreen interface is easy to use and should function well with any level technology user. The buttons are large and the control knob is sturdy enough to not break off after ten uses. The door-side storage compartments are handy for paperwork or small book storage, even a bottle of water, but the cup holders are rather shallow and don't adjust to fit separate cup sizes.

The center console is nice for another small storage area but sits too far back to be any kind of use as an armrest; some drivers may find this uncomfortable. The dashboard features a double-eye display, with the speedometer housed in the right eye and a standard rpm gauge on the left. The glove compartment won't fit much more than your ownership papers and a pair of gloves, so don't expect a cavernous opening for storage.

Performance

The low end of the performance scale comes from the base-model 2.0L four-cylinder engine, which pumps out 115 horsepower and 125 ft.-lbs. of torque. The 2.5L inline-five kicks that up to 170 ponies and 177 ft.-lbs. of torque. Either one can be matched with either the five-speed manual or the six-speed automatic transmissions. In performance testing, the manual Jetta SEL was capable of hitting the 60 mph mark in just over 8 seconds (8.4 to be exact).

The Jetta TDI will rattle off 140 horses with no struggles whatsoever, but it shows its diesel strength in the 236 ft.-lbs. of torque it pumps out on the low end. All that power and it still remains the top in fuel efficiency at 30/42 mpg (city/highway). Handling remains very Volkswagenesque, which is to say it remains stable and firm through sharp turns and the suspension gives a soft feel over any bumps in the road.

One thing that is noted among owners and testers alike is a minor delay in throttle response when the six-speed automatic transmission is paired with the 2.5L engine. Braking reveals the standards that are set in Volkswagen engineering, bringing the Jetta to a halt from 60 mph in only 117 feet. This is better than many competitors in this class.

Safety & Reliability

Standard safety features on the 2013 Jetta include stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and antilock brakes with brake assist. Despite Volkswagen's reputation for safety, the Jetta garnered only 4 out of 5 stars in overall crash testing, earning five stars in only the side-impact test. Most of that rating has to do with the Jetta's size more than its safety standards though.

The IIHS made it a Top Safety pick, giving it a top rating of Good on all safety tests, including the roof strength test. There are currently no recalls or reported safety issues, but the Jetta still doesn't earn a very high mark for reliability from J.D. Power & Associates. Under the Vehicle Dependability Study, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta earned two out of five stars. Of course, that mark was earned for all versions of the Jetta. It is quite feasible that the diesel version would raise that number to at least three, possibly four out of five stars.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - FWD
Base 4dr Manual Base Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 15545
Base 4dr Auto Base Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 16645
Hybrid 4dr Auto Hybrid Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24995
S 4dr Manual S Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 16720
S 4dr Auto S Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 17820
S w/Sunroof 4dr Manual S with Sunroof Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 17845
S w/Sunroof 4dr Auto S with Sunroof Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 18945
SE 4dr Manual SE Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 19015
SE 4dr Manual SE PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 19015
SE 4dr Auto SE Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20115
SE 4dr Auto SE PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20115
SE w/Convenience 4dr Manual SE with Convenience Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20330
SE w/Convenience 4dr Manual SE with Convenience PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20330
SE w/Convenience 4dr Auto SE with Convenience Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21430
SE w/Convenience 4dr Auto SE with Convenience PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21430
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Manual SE with Convenience & Sunroof Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21670
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Manual SE with Convenience & Sunroof PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21670
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Convenience & Sunroof Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22770
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Convenience & Sunroof PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22770
Hybrid SE 4dr Auto Hybrid SE Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 26990
SEL 4dr Manual SEL Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22895
SEL 4dr Manual SEL PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22895
SEL 4dr Auto SEL Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 23995
SEL 4dr Auto SEL PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 23995
SEL w/Nav 4dr Manual SEL with Navigation Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 24150
SEL w/Nav 4dr Manual SEL with Navigation PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 24150
SEL w/Nav 4dr Auto SEL with Navigation Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 25250
SEL w/Nav 4dr Auto SEL with Navigation PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 25250
Hybrid SEL 4dr Auto Hybrid SEL Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 29325
Hybrid SEL Premium 4dr Auto Hybrid SEL Premium Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 31180
TDI 4dr Manual TDI Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 23055
TDI 4dr DSG TDI Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24155
TDI w/Premium 4dr Manual TDI with Premium Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24495
TDI w/Premium 4dr DSG TDI with Premium Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25595
TDI w/Premium/Nav 4dr Manual TDI with Premium & Navigation Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25955
TDI w/Premium/Nav 4dr DSG TDI with Premium & Navigation Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 27055
S 4dr Manual S Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 16675
S 4dr Auto S Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 17775
S w/Sunroof 4dr Manual S with Sunroof Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 17825
S w/Sunroof 4dr Auto S with Sunroof Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 18925
SE 4dr Manual SE Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 18995
SE 4dr Manual SE PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 18995
SE 4dr Auto SE Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20095
SE 4dr Auto SE PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20095
SE w/Convenience 4dr Manual SE with Convenience Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20310
SE w/Convenience 4dr Manual SE with Convenience PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 20310
SE w/Convenience 4dr Auto SE with Convenience Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21410
SE w/Convenience 4dr Auto SE with Convenience PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21410
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Manual SE with Convenience & Sunroof Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21650
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Manual SE with Convenience & Sunroof PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 21650
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Convenience & Sunroof Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22750
SE w/Convenience/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Convenience & Sunroof PZEV Sedan 5 Cylinder FWD 22750
TDI 4dr Manual TDI Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 22990
TDI 4dr DSG TDI Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24090
TDI w/Premium 4dr Manual TDI with Premium Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 24430
TDI w/Premium 4dr DSG TDI with Premium Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25530
TDI w/Premium/Nav 4dr Manual TDI with Premium & Navigation Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 25890
TDI w/Premium/Nav 4dr DSG TDI with Premium & Navigation Sedan 4 Cylinder FWD 26990
Wagon - FWD
S 4dr Manual S SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 20595
S 4dr Manual S PZEV SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 20595
S 4dr Auto S SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 21695
S 4dr Auto S PZEV SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 21695
SE 4dr Auto SE SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 24395
SE 4dr Auto SE PZEV SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 24395
SE w/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Sunroof SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 26195
SE w/Sunroof 4dr Auto SE with Sunroof PZEV SportWagen 5 Cylinder FWD 26195
TDI 4dr Manual TDI SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 25795
TDI 4dr DSG TDI SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 26895
TDI w/Sunroof 4dr Manual TDI with Sunroof SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 27595
TDI w/Sunroof 4dr DSG TDI with Sunroof SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 28695
TDI w/Sunroof & Nav 4dr Manual TDI with Sunroof & Navigation SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 28395
TDI w/Sunroof & Nav 4dr DSG TDI with Sunroof & Navigation SportWagen 4 Cylinder FWD 29495

Comparison of 2013 Volkswagen Jetta with Similar Cars

2013 Volkswagen Jetta MSRP Invoice
2013 Volkswagen Jetta $15,545 $14,923
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Ford Focus $16,200 $15,269 2013 Volkswagen Jetta VS 2013 Ford Focus
2013 Toyota Corolla $16,230 $15,338 2013 Volkswagen Jetta VS 2013 Toyota Corolla
2013 Nissan Sentra $15,990 $15,423 2013 Volkswagen Jetta VS 2013 Nissan Sentra
2013 Hyundai Elantra $16,695 $16,208 2013 Volkswagen Jetta VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Mazda Mazda3 $16,700 $16,229 2013 Volkswagen Jetta VS 2013 Mazda Mazda3

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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