COMPARISON: 2016 Volkswagen Jetta – A Responsive and Roomy Compact Sedan


BestRide | Oct 07, 2016


The 2016 Volkswagen Jetta continues to be an affordable compact sedan with a roomy back seat and plenty of trunk space. Those are its strengths, as are the variety of powertrains which include a base 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, a more peppy 1.8-turbo, and a 2.0-liter turbo found only in the sporty GLI trim level. There’s even a hybrid. Its range of engines and amenities at an affordable price makes the Jetta a winner.

Missing from the lineup this year, and for who knows how long, is the diesel. This is due to the now notorious diesel emissions cheat that had all diesel VWs pulled from the market. The remaining engine choices still leave plenty of room to focus on fuel economy or performance.

Our tester was the 1.8T SEL Premium trim, which sits near the top of the lineup. It featured a 6-speed automatic, but there’s also a 5-speed manual available as an option. It has 170 horsepower, which is plenty to power a compact sedan and has good handling that makes it nice to drive.

If you’re looking for a roomy compact, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Jetta. It has an enormous trunk for its class and a back seat that even taller adults will find comfortable. Those seats also split-fold to add a bit of versatility for carrying larger items that might not quite fit in the trunk.

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Although roomy and fun to zip around in, the Jetta looks a bit dated. Its ho-hum styling needs an update to stand out against the competition. There’s nothing remarkable about the Jetta’s design, which is an unfortunate negative in a market crowded with attractive, updated compacts.

Inside, materials are of OK quality, but there are a lot of hard plastics to make it feel like the bargain it is. Seating is comfortable and, as we mentioned, very roomy. It’s just not a very attractive or engaging interior.

Infotainment includes a 6.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, AM/FM/CD with HD radio and USB and auxiliary jacks. It’s easy to use, but the navigation system feels as dated as the car’s overall design.

Here’s how the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta stacks up to its competitors.


2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium

Engine: 1.8-liter turbocharged I4
Horsepower: 170
Torque: 184 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Seating Dimensions (inches)
Front Headroom: 38.3
Front Legroom: 41.2
Rear Headroom: 37.1
Rear Legroom: 38.1

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)
Trunk: 15.7

Fuel Economy (mpg)
City: 25
Highway: 36

Pricing: $28,145

2016 Honda Civic Coupe

2016 Honda Civic LX

Engine: 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower: 158
Torque: 138 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual or CVT

Seating Dimensions (inches)
Front Headroom: 38.2
Front Legroom: 42.3
Rear Headroom: 34.6
Rear Legroom: 35.9

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)
Trunk: 12.1

Fuel Economy (mpg manual/automatic)
City: 26/30
Highway: 38/41

Pricing: $18,640

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Engine: 1.4-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 153
Torque: 177 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Seating Dimensions (inches)
Front Headroom: 38.9
Front Legroom: 42.0
Rear Headroom: 37.3
Rear Legroom: 36.1

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)
Trunk: 14.8

Fuel Economy (mpg)
City: 30
Highway: 42

Pricing: $16,120 – $24,370

2016 Ford Focus

2016 Ford Focus S

Engine: 2.0-liter I4
Horsepower: 160
Torque: 146 lb-ft
Transmission: 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic

Seating Dimensions (inches)
Front Headroom: 38.3
Front Legroom: 43.1
Rear Headroom: 38.0
Rear Legroom: 33.2

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)
Trunk: 13.2

Fuel Economy: (mpg manual/automatic)
City: 26/27
Highway: 36/40

Pricing: $17,225

The Jetta clearly beats the competition when it comes to passenger space and trunk capacity. If you’re focused on having a room ride that doesn’t feel like a compact sedan, then the Jetta is a top choice.

It lags behind on fuel economy, but that’s not the full story. The Jetta is one of the more fun-to-ddrive compacts you can buy, so it’s a trade-off. Save a few dollars at the pump or have more fun during that morning commute.

Pricing on our model comes out higher, but the SEL Premium trim comes out near the top of the Jetta range. If you’re willing to drop down to the smaller 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, not only will you save some money when you buy, you’ll get a little boost in fuel economy to match.

The 2016 Volkswagen Jetta combines an enjoyable driving experience with plenty of room in a compact sedan. Although it could use a styling update and is started to show its age, the Jetta’s affordable pricing and a wide range of engines and trims help it maintain its popularity.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

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