2020 Volkswagen Jetta

By May 4, 2020

Redesigned last year, the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is a compact sedan with exceptional refinement and value. It offers a low-stress personality and a high-tech interior. Its fuel economy of 34 mpg makes it one of the most efficient compact cars on the market.

The base engine in the front-wheel-drive Jetta is a 148-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo-4. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but nearly all Jettas that leave VW’s assembly plant in Mexico are equipped with an 8-speed automatic.

The Jetta GLI is a more sophisticated design, and uses a 228-hp turbo-4 mated to a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It has strong acceleration and good handling on a slightly lowered suspension, and uses adaptive dampers on the Autobahn version.

The interior is conservative like the exterior. Standard 6.5-inch or optional 8.0-inch touchscreens come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Newly standard for 2020 is a wi-fi hotspot, along with a subscription-based telematics system. Top trims feature a configurable digital instrument cluster and a heated steering wheel, also new for 2020.

The Jetta is EPA-rated at 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined, with either the manual or automatic transmission. The Jetta GLI gets 25/32/28 mpg.

In crash tests, the NHTSA rates the Jetta at five stars overall and the insurance industry-funded IIHS gave it top marks in every test, but its standard LED headlights were considered subpar.
Automatic emergency braking is standard on all but the base Jetta S, where it’s optional in a $500 Driver Assistance Package that also includes blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Model Lineup

The Jetta comes as S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium, R-Design and GLI S or GLI Autobahn.

The Jetta S comes with power features, cloth upholstery, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and alloy wheels. A manual transmission is standard, although most Jettas will have the 8-speed automatic.

The $22,000 SE adds synthetic leather, automatic climate control, a power moonroof, and automatic emergency braking.

The Jetta SEL Premium costs around $28,000, and is better equipped than some luxury cars costing many thousands more. It comes with leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a 10.3-inch configurable instrument cluster, Beats audio, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and more.

The Jetta GLI S for $27,000 has heated cloth seats and 6.5-inch touchscreen. The Autobahn adds adaptive dampers to deliver a softer ride.

All Jettas are backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.


The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta won’t raise any eyebrows with its conservative styling. That doesn’t keep it from looking classy.

Its lines are crisp and neat, with sophisticated wheel designs and LED lighting that dress up its body. The standard 16-inch alloy wheels look small in the big wheel wells, while the optional 17-inch and 18-inch wheels fit it better.

The GLI adds a honeycomb grille with red details, and it rides 0.6 inches lower.

Jetta R-Designs have flashier 17-inch wheels and different exterior trim.


The dash tilts slightly toward the driver, with low-sheen trim and a nicely integrated 6.5-inch or 8.0-inch touchscreen. The controls are in logical locations. A sophisticated 10.3-inch display comes with the instrument cluster on upper models.

The interior materials range from upmarket to unimpressive hard plastics on the center console and doors with panels in innocuous shades of gray.

The standard cloth upholstery has a nice, tough feel, while the optional synthetic leather is hard-wearing. Real leather comes on top models.

The cloth front seats on the S, SE and SEL are flat and light on support, but the SEL Premium solves this with leather and power-adjustable lumbar support. The GLI doesn’t have the problem, however the wide center console on all models nudges into the driver’s legs.

The rear seat is better, with 37 inches of leg room and nearly as much head room as the front seats. The 14.1 cubic-foot trunk is about average for a compact sedan.

Driving Impressions

The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta with the base engine has enough power for relaxed everyday driving. Its 1.4-liter turbo-4 makes a modest 147 horsepower but a strong 184 pound-feet of torque that provides responsive acceleration. Both transmissions are good. The manual gearbox is a slick-shifting unit, while the automatic snicks between gears quickly and efficiently.

The Jetta GLI uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes a strong 228 hp and awesome 258 lb-ft of torque, enabling the sporty sedan to accelerate to 60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds. A beefier 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission bring the power to life. A standard limited-slip front differential ensures good grip.

The GLI uses a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension to improve the handling; the GLI is clearly the enthusiast’s choice, and is a pleasure on winding roads. The braking is strong and predictable, while the optional adaptive dampers smother the pavement in Comfort and Normal modes while stiffening things in Sport.

Final Word

If you’re in the market for a compact sedan, there are many good reasons to buy the 2020 VW Jetta. With the right equipment (namely front seats), it delivers in every category, from powertrain to dynamics to economy to comfort and even style.


—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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