Road Test: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Road Test: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Story and photos by Jordan Allan, additional photos courtesy of VW Canada

It is safe to say that a long road trip is the perfect way to get acquainted with a new car as it serves as the perfect opportunity to test basically all aspects of the vehicle, especially efficiency, performance, drivability and comfortability. Hours behind the wheel will lead you to see these things in a very different way than you would during normal, everyday driving situations and luckily for me I was able to experience this when I took an all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta on a recent trip from B.C.’s Lower Mainland over to the Kootenays.

Those familiar with the drive know that this takes you mostly along the Southern part of the province along Highway 3 which is a fairly winding highway complete with mountain passes and a plethora of wildlife along the way. Having done the drive in a number of different vehicles in the past, I was familiar with the route and thought that the Jetta would be a perfect candidate to do it again. The Jetta has always been a good looking, nice driving car that has always carried a higher end feel than a traditional compact sedan in the sense that, as with many German cars, you can tell that it’s well-built and features a better drive than many of its competitors.

Although I only had one passenger with me, I was concerned about the amount of space in the trunk and whether or not it will be able to fit all of our camping gear. Given that the Jetta is considered a compact/family sedan, space wouldn’t be one of the first things you think about but I was pleasantly surprised to find a quite large trunk that didn’t even appear to take away from rear seat legroom. The trunk easily fit our camping gear, clothes and even a couple of mid-sized coolers with even a little bit of room to spare. This allowed us to not have to pile things on the back seat which affects your rearview, which is something I’ve had to deal with in the past.

Another concern I had going into the trip was the significant power decrease the Jetta experienced during its redesign for 2019 as it now features a 1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder under the hood that produces 147 horsepower along with 184 lb-ft. of torque, paired to an 8-speed automatic. The section of Highway 3 we would be travelling on has a number of mountain passes along the way with some fairly steep inclines that require some power from your car to keep pace. Aside from that, many parts of the highway are single lane and extra power is always a plus when going out to make wrong-lane passes.

After some time, I found power to be a complete non-issue and was even impressed by it at some points and left feeling like it had much more than the 147 it’s rated at. This power is likely aided by the impressive torque rating (184 lb.ft) and the 8-speed transmission and allowed me to safely and easily complete passes and more than keep pace with other traffic on some of the steeper inclines. I won’t go as far as to say it is a fast car, but it definitely feels like more than the advertised numbers. The small displacement of the engine also allows it to achieve some pretty impressive fuel efficiency numbers which are definitely in line with the advertised 5.9L/100 km highway rating.

Having had the opportunity to drive a number of VW’s over the years, I knew that handling was one of the things that I need not be concerned about. Every Volkswagen I’ve every driven has always had a tight feel that leaves you feeling safe no matter how intense the corner was and can even add some fun into your drive. The new Jetta did not disappoint here and allowed me to have some fun on this winding highway and never gave the feeling like it was ever going to give.

The experience inside of the Jetta during this trip was just as notable as the driving experience with its high-end feel and all of the latest technologies and features. The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument cluster looks great and is very functional, giving the driver a number of different parameters to monitor including entertainment and navigation. The clean looking centre cluster features an easy-to-use 6.5-in. touchscreen and a separate dial-driven system to control the vehicles interior climate. The ventilated and supporting front seats were a very nice touch, especially during the hot, smoky summer we are experiencing in B.C. and the BeatsAudio 8-speaker audio system kept me entertained the whole way through.

Although it didn’t have any effect on my actual trip I found that, although there are a couple things I would change, I did overall enjoy the new exterior look of the Jetta and can see where the folks at VW were going. The previous (6th) generation of the Jetta had been around for probably a little longer than it should have so it came as no surprise that a much bolder, more aggressive look is now utilized. The in motion-style wheels weren’t my cup of tea but all in all the new Jetta offers a high end look that will definitely help it stand out amongst its competitors.

Although the focus of a road trip is likely the time spent at the actual destination, it’s no secret that the journey, both there and back, is obviously a huge part as well – especially for us drivers. There were some aspects of the new Jetta that caused me some concern prior to the trip but I’m happy to say these were quickly squashed and allowed me to walk away with more of an appreciation for this car than I probably otherwise would have.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta starts at a palatable $20,995 and our top-of-the-line, fully loaded Execline tester model came in at $30,090 which in my mind is easily justifiable for a car that generally feels like it could even warrant more.

Categories: Driver Plus, Road Tests