Thursday, February 25, 2016

Volkswagen helps itself with improved 2016 Jetta

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­– Like other auto reviewers, I felt seriously burned by the diesel emissions-cheating scandal that swept over Volkswagen last year.

I talked to a lot of Volkswagen employees and car buyers who felt likewise burned.

Fortunately, a recent week in the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T SE sedan went a long way toward restoring my faith in the brand.

Jetta has long been VW’s best-selling car.  For the 2016 model year, it received numerous upgrades to make it an even stronger contender in the U.S. sedan market.

For me, the most dramatic change is the addition of a more-responsive 1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine to replace the 2-liter, naturally-aspirated power plant.  The new engine actually feels much stronger than the advertised 150 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque.  Handling was sharp.  I was able to zip the Jetta in and out of tight spots with plenty of margin for safety.  That felt good.

Besides offering more zip, fuel mileage improved to 28 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.

Styling is pretty standard sedan-like, but the tested vehicle cut through the wind nicely.  Interior comfort is good.  Volunteer passengers said they were pleased as well.

The list of standard features on the tester was impressive.  That included halogen headlights and foldable, heated, power side mirrors on the outside and heated front seats and a crystal-clear rearview camera readout on the inside.

A long list of safety and driving-enhancement features reads like something one sees on a much pricier sedan.  The sticker on the tested Jetta was a decidedly affordable $20,915, including the destination charge.  Nice.

For the record, the 2016 Jetta scored a top-tier overall score of five stars in federal government safety ratings.

Other pleasant surprises: A spacious 15.5 cubic feet of trunk space, and you can get more by taking advancage of the folding 60/40-split rear seatback.  Still not enough?  Try opening the pass-through slot on the rear seataback, enabling you to fit skis or golf clubs into the cabin.  I also liked the instrument cluster gauges framed in chrome.  An attractive touch of style.

So, while Honda, Toyota, Ford and General Motors continue to serve up affordable sedans of note, this Jetta is a competitor in that segment and deserving of a test drive.  I’d give it a solid B to B-plus.

1 comment:

  1. VW's poor reliability should be taken into consideration.