2017 Volkswagen Jetta: enduring sedan holds its own

James Raia

Now in the seventh year of its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Jetta is approaching its 30th birthday as a little sedan that can.

The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta continues the legacy of the enuring little sedan.
The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta continues the enduring sedan’s legacy. All images © James Raia/2017.

For 2017, the Jetta receives a few upgrades, most in improved technology. New are a rearview camera on all trim levels and driver assistance features on lower trims. There’s also an updated infotainment system with a USB connection to replace the former cable connection.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The Jetta hybrid and diesel have been discontinued for 2017, leaving four trims — S, SE, SEL and GLI. The SEL trim, my weekly driver, included many of the lengthy lists of the standard features on the lower trims and added or upgraded many areas.

A 1.8-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower is standard. It’s matched only with a six-speed automatic transmission. Upgrades included: chrome exterior accents, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way power driver seat, a cooled glovebox, a navigation system and a six-speaker audio system. There’s also a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

About a half-dozen times per year and for more than a decade, I’ve driven my weekly drivers on the round-trip, 400-mile trip from Sacramento to the Monterey Peninsula. Four years ago, I drove the 2014 Jetta SE. Recently, I drove the 2017 SEL trim.

With the exception of driving an SUV off-road or a high-end sports car on a winding country road with no one in sight, the trip to the Monterey Peninsula affords a varied array of driving circumstances.

I can’t think in recent memory of any car that handled the open road, the winding, oddly cambered roads near San Luis Reservoir and the around-town city treks better than the Jetta, with one exception. The new Volvo S60 handled the same route like a supercar.

But the Jetta for its price range is hard to beat. Its primary competitors include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Mazda 3 and Hyundai Elantra. They’re all fine cars, but the Jettaholds its own.

On Interstate 5, where the flow of traffic often exceeds the speed limit, the Jetta fared well.

On narrow, abrupt ascents and descents on highways 152 and 156, the Jetta maneuvered like it knew the way.

On the downtown city streets of Monterey and Carmel, I parallel parked with ease, fit in tight driveways and accelerated smoothly after stop signs or traffic lights on inclines.

While not a trendsetter or a pillar of interior design, there’s something to be said for the Jetta’s minimalist interior. Leather seating isn’t offered, but the leatherette is satisfactory. The adjustable armrest between the two front seats is versatile and the audio screen controls are simple and efficient.


Spacious interior and trunk.
Smooth ride quality.
Good gas mileage.
Good maneuverability.


Interior design and materials need upgrading.

Facts & Figures: 2017 Volkswagen Jetta

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, unavailable.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 29 mpg (city), 35 mpg (highway), 29 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 170.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $26,995.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: www.vw.com.
Price As tested: $27,815.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited mileage; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“In a class better known for transportation appliances, Volkswagen’s popular Jetta combines fuel economy and comfort with a pleasant driving experience.” — theautochannel.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

Enduring and dutiful, the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta continues the sedan’s reputation as a solid choice in the ever-improving small sedan segment.”

Article Last Updated: February 17, 2017.

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