2013 Volkswagen Jetta (S, SE, SEL, TDI, GLI) review, specs, photos, features

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The new 2013 Volkswagen Jetta compact car

Following record sales in 2011—the sixth-generation Jetta’s first full year on sale in the U.S.—the best-selling model in Volkswagen’s line-up receives a number of technology and interior comfort updates for the 2013 model year. Suffice to say, the only German engineered compact sedan just got better.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo

New features and packages for 2013
Starting with the popular 2.5-liter engine models, standard updates to the SE trim include chrome-trimmed interior switches, new decorative metallic trim on the dash and door panels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and handbrake lever.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo

Additional interior enhancements for front-seat occupants include an adjustable center armrest and power-recline on both seats. Exterior enhancements include a chrome radiator grille and chrome window trim.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

The SEL trim adds a six-way power driver seat with manual lumbar support, sport-comfort driver and front passenger seats, and a soft-touch dash. A two-tone black-and-beige interior complements the changes for 2013.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

A new trim, SEL with Navigation, adds the acclaimed Fender® Premium Audio System and the RNS-315 touchscreen navigation system to the very well-equipped SEL.

Yet even the entry-level Jetta models come extremely well-equipped. The 2.0L Jetta S, with a starting MSRP of $16,675, has standard air conditioning, one-touch auto up/down power windows, power locks with keyless entry, and power heated exterior mirrors, along with a host of safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, six airbags, four-wheel disc brakes, and Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Jetta TDI
Similar to the 2.5-liter gasoline trims, all TDI Clean Diesel models receive interior and exterior enhancements. All models now include power-recline driver and front passenger seats in addition to a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and handbrake lever. A new iridium trim enhances the dash and door panels. The exterior now features a chrome radiator grille along with chrome window trim. Later in the model year, all TDI models will receive a soft-touch dash.

The top-of-the-line TDI Premium with Navigation trim includes a six-way power driver seat and a new 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheel that differentiates it from the 16-inch standard wheel of other TDI models.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta photo

Jetta GLI
The performance-driven Jetta GLI model now features Launch Control. All Jetta GLI models equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission include a Launch Control program that can be engaged by the driver when the vehicle is at a stop, allowing for a perfect launch with controlled wheelspin. Technology updates to the sporty GLI Autobahn with Navigation trim include a rearview camera and Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs.

Jetta Hybrid
Volkswagen’s first hybrid compact, the Jetta Hybrid, launches in the late fall. It will offer a manufacturer-estimated combined fuel economy rating of 45 mpg. Further detail on trims and pricing will be announced at the launch.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Exterior
Marketing experts call it “class-up appeal”. It’s the offering of more, for less. Which is why, when Volkswagen completely redesigned the Jetta for the 2011 model year, it crafted a bigger car, with a longer wheelbase and 2.9 inches added to the overall length.

The increased dimensions allowed designers to incorporate clear, precise lines and muscular surfaces to impart a timeless elegance, giving the impression that this is a car from a higher class.

At the front, the coupe-like incline of the windscreen and the consistent use of horizontal lines define the Jetta’s design. The horizontal blades in the grille, together with the blades in the lower intake, are designed to make the Jetta appear wider and more dynamic.

To break-up the tall body sides of the new Jetta, Volkswagen brand head of design Klaus Bischoff and his team created a pronounced character line—a “tornado” line. This cuts through the large side surfaces, running as a sharp crease from the rearmost edge of the headlight, beneath the windows, softening-out as it reaches the rear lights.

To give visual weight to the lower part of the Jetta and impart a sense of the car being ‘planted’ to the road, the base of the doors is eased outwards. The pronounced wheelarches also add visual width and weight to the car.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

The GLI features a more dynamic look than the regular Jetta, courtesy of its honeycomb grille, a deeper front spoiler, and GTI-style vertical foglights and red-painted brake calipers. At the rear, there are smoked taillights and dual exhaust tips. Adding to the sporting exterior styling for 2013 are available LED daytime running lights paired with Bi-Xenon headlights.

The Jetta GLI offers striking 10-spoke 17-inch alloys as the standard wheel, with a wide-spoke 18-inch design for the GLI Autobahn model. A stunning 18-inch Motorsport Black rim is available as an option on all GLI models.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Interior
A key benefit of the Jetta’s extended wheelbase—it stretches an incredible 104.4 inches—is a truly spacious interior, with impressive rear-seat legroom of 38.1 inches. Long legs can rejoice. The gently arcing roofline also means more than ample headroom of 37.1 inches for rear-seat passengers.

And stretch-out legroom in the back isn’t achieved by a cramped front seat either. Being tailored primarily for an American audience—the U.S. is the Jetta’s biggest market globally—there is no shortage of legroom and headroom up front.

Just open any of the Jetta’s wide-angled doors and the quality of materials, the fit and finish, and the clean, simple, refined elegance of the cabin is clearly visible. And in true German tradition, the layout of the fascia, the positioning of the switches and controls, and the clarity of the oversized, round instruments is designed to be ergonomic and intuitive.

Trunk space also borders on the cavernous. The Jetta offers a class-leading 15.5 cubic feet of usable load space, and can be increased significantly by folding forward the 60/40-split rear seatback. The rear seatback is also offered with a pass-through to accommodate longer items, like skis.

On the Jetta GLI, the interior stays true to its performance roots. Side-bolstered sport bucket seats feature bright-red stitching; there’s matching red stitching on the flat-bottom steering wheel; and aluminum pedals, shift knob, dash and door trim. For the first time, a rearview camera will also be available.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Fender® Premium Audio
After more than a year of critical acclaim, the iconic partnership between Volkswagen and Fender continues. The remarkable Fender Premium Audio System will be available throughout the 2013 Jetta lineup.

Developed through collaboration between Fender and Panasonic, the system cranks out 400 watts of power played through nine speakers, including a trunk-mounted subwoofer, to bring the raw emotion of a live music performance to the driving experience.

And the same cool, chromed Fender logo that has graced the guitar “amps” of some of the world’s greatest rock legends is featured on the A-pillar tweeters on the Jetta’s Fender sound system.

Fender Premium Audio comes standard with the 2012 Jetta SEL w/ Navigation, the TDI® Clean Diesel models with Premium and Premium and Navigation, GLI Autobahn, and GLI Autobahn with Navigation models.

Engines and Transmission
The 2013 Jetta line-up will feature an unprecedented five engine options, including the gasoline 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder, 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder, and 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel.

The 2.0-liter four that powers the Jetta S and Jetta S with Sunroof models features two valves per cylinder and sequential multi-point fuel injection to deliver 115 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. It’s offered with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. With the five-speed, the EPA fuel economy is estimated at 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Volkswagen’s proven 2.5L is offered in the 2013 Jetta SE, SE with Convenience, SE with Convenience and Sunroof, and SEL models. It features chain-driven double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and maintenance-free hydraulic valves. It makes 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque and is available with a five-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. With the manual gearbox, EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

Powering the Jetta GLI models—the GLI, GLI Autobahn, and GLI Autobahn with Navigation—is Volkswagen’s award-winning double-overhead cam, 16-valve, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that produces 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. While it gives the GLI exhilarating performance, it is also highly efficient with its EPA-estimated economy of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg on the highway when equipped with Volkswagen’s fast-shifting DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission.

A favorite engine choice among Jetta buyers is the highly efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel engine that produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. With either the standard six-speed manual transmission or the DSG automatic, the Jetta TDI can, according to EPA estimates, average 30 mpg in the city and an impressive 42 mpg on the highway. That enables the Jetta TDI to cover up to 609 miles on a single tank.

Suspension
All Jetta models are fitted with a strut-type front suspension with coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. At the rear, with the exception of the dynamic new Jetta GLI, there is a torsion beam with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar. With this torsion beam layout, two trailing arms are linked by means of a stiff crossmember. The advantages of the layout include excellent directional stability when cornering, a smooth ride, and a compact, space-saving design.

The sportier GLI, which rides 0.6 inches lower than other Jetta models, gets a sophisticated multilink independent rear suspension that features three transverse and one longitudinal link per wheel. This enables the longitudinal and transverse dynamics to be precisely configured almost independently of each other. The result is a more agile, responsive and precise handling. The GLI also features, as standard, the impressive XDS® Cross Differential System.

Safety and Security
Safety in the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta starts with an extraordinarily stiff and rigid bodyshell constructed using seamless laser welding and high-strength steel in key areas. The front of the car is also crash-optimized, featuring impact-absorbing elements integrated into the front structure which compress under impact.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

Also standard on all Jetta models are driver and front passenger front and side thorax airbags and Side Curtain Protection® airbags front and rear. There is also a standard suite of advanced electronic safety aids, like Anti-lock Braking (ABS), Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA).

Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS) reacts instantly in an accident when the airbags are deployed. It unlocks the doors, turns off the fuel pump, and even activates the car’s hazard lights.

And as with all Volkswagen models, the 2012 Jetta is covered under the no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. All scheduled maintenance is covered for the length of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty—three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Model Line-up

2.0L S
With a highly-attractive starting MSRP of $16,675, the 2.0L S provides entry into the Jetta family. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed automatic optional. Key standard features include four-wheel disc brakes; power windows with one-touch up/down on all four windows; air conditioning; RCD 310 radio with CD player; aux-in connection; power locks with remote keyless entry; power and heated exterior mirrors; six-way adjustable front seats; 60/40-split rear seat; and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

2.0L S with Sunroof
Priced from $17,825 with a five-speed manual transmission, this model adds a power tilt and sliding sunroof and cruise control.

2.5L SE
Priced from $18,995, the SE adds the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine; chrome radiator grille and window trim; body-color exterior mirrors with turn signal indicator;16-inch steel wheels; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces; front center console with adjustable armrest and storage box; chrome interior accents; and rear center armrest with pass-through.

2.5L SE with Convenience
Priced from $20,310, standard features include 16-inch Sedona aluminum-alloy wheels; heated front seats; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel; Bluetooth®; MDI with iPod® cable; and a six-speaker sound system.

2.5L SE with Convenience and Sunroof
Priced from $21,650, additional equipment includes power tilt and sliding glass sunroof and the Premium VIII touchscreen radio with SD memory card reader.

2.5L SEL
Priced from $22,895, the SEL includes standard 17-inch “Joda” aluminum-alloy wheels, foglights, keyless access with push-button start; trip computer; six-way power driver seat, and driver lumbar adjustment.

2.5L SEL with Navigation
Priced from $24,150, the SEL with Navigation model adds the Fender® premium audio with subwoofer and the RNS 315 touchscreen navigation system with SD memory card reader.

2.0L TDI® Clean Diesel
With a starting MSRP of $22,990, standard features includes the 2.0L TDI engine; chrome front grille and window trim; trip computer; and 16-inch “Mambo” aluminum-alloy wheels.

2.0L TDI® Clean Diesel with Premium
Priced from $24,430, it adds power tilt and sliding sunroof and the Premium VIII touchscreen radio with Fender® premium audio.

2.0L TDI® Clean Diesel with Premium and Navigation
Priced from $25,890, it adds driver seat manual lumbar, RNS 315 touchscreen navigation with SD memory card reader, and keyless access with push-button start.

2.0T GLI
With a starting price of $23,945, standard features include: 2.0-liter, 200 hp TSI engine; 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/45 R17H all-season tires; sport bumpers and side skirts; red painted brake calipers; hill-hold control; front foglights; darkened taillights; chrome window trim; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, brake handle and shift knob; steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles (DSG only); compass; sport pedals and shift knob; red interior stitching; cloth front comfort sport seats with manual lumbar for driver seat; 60/40 split folding rear seats with center armrest and pass-through; aux input; Bluetooth®; cruise control; MDI with iPod® cable; Premium VIII touchscreen radio with six speakers; trip computer; one-touch up/down power windows.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid photo

2.0T GLI Autobahn
Priced from $26,195, the Autobahn adds 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/40 R18H all-season tires; power tilt/sliding sunroof; V-Tex leatherette; six-way power driver seat; heated front sport seats; heated washer nozzles; cooling glovebox; Climatronic® automatic A/C; and the Fender® premium sound system with subwoofer.

2.0T GLI Autobahn with Navigation
Priced from $28,200, it adds Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights; RNS 315 navigation system; rearview camera; and keyless access with push-button start.

New 2013 Volkswagen Jetta specifications, photos and images courtesy of Volkswagen.

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