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A brand new addition to the Jetta lineup for 2013, the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid sips fuel while providing the same amount of power as a five-cylinder gas-powered Jetta—though this economy comes at a higher price.
Using a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the hybrid produces a healthy 170 horsepower and returns 42 mpg city and 48 mpg highway.
Adding fuel efficiency without losing power gives the hybrid Jetta obvious advantages over the standard model. But there's a catch: the Hybrid adds more than $8,000 to the price of a conventional Jetta. This means VW's fuel-efficient compact sedan may fall outside the price range of many shoppers.
The Jetta Hybrid offers an open cabin with plenty of rear legroom—adults will be comfortable. Volkswagen has taken flack, though, for cheap interior materials that don't live up to the brand's previous high-quality standard. The trunk remains spacious, even with the hybrid's motor's battery pack.
Starting just under $25,000, the base Jetta Hybrid comes nicely equipped. Unlike the steel wheels on other base models, the Hybrid gets 15-inch alloys. Satellite radio is received by way of a roof-mounted antenna and the sheet metal is dent-resistant. The front and rear valances—plus side skirts—are unique to the Hybrid in the Jetta lineup. Rounding out the exterior features are a rear lip spoiler and Hybrid badging. Inside, passengers are treated to dual-zone climate control and an adjustable front armrest that doubles as a storage compartment. Upholstery consists of a leatherette material, but the steering wheel is leather-wrapped.
Additional standard equipment on the Hybrid SE includes exterior features like chrome window trim and LED taillights. The side mirrors are body-colored and heated with integrated turn signals. Interior equipment includes keyless entry with push-button start, adjustable front seats, and a 60/40 split folding backseat. Also part of the rear seat are the center armrest and trunk pass-through. A touchscreen sound system feeds into six speakers and comes with Volkswagen's Media Device Interface for iPod. Audio can be provided by HD Radio, a CD player or a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio as well. The steering wheel is mounted with cruise, audio and trip computer controls while the column has tilt and telescoping functionality.
Interior features in the Hybrid SEL include keyless access with push-button start, a fresh air ventilation system and leatherette seating surfaces. Most notable is the standard navigation system that comes with a touchscreen display. The front seats are heated, as well as six-way power adjustable. The rear is toddler-friendly with LATCH child seat anchor points. Alloy wheels measure 16-inches and have anti-theft wheel locks. The exterior also features a tilt/slide sunroof and heated windshield washer nozzles. A unique Hybrid grille consists of special blue trim and and a blue VW emblem. The all-season tires are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that can be reset.
As the highest priced model in the Jetta lineup, the Hybrid SEL Premium leaves little to be desired. Starting outside, 17-inch alloy wheels are styled to divert air to the brakes, and fog lights within the front fascia feature a corner-illuminating feature. The headlights are xenon HIDs accented by LED daytime running lights. Interior highlights include a premium sound system by Fender with eight speakers and a subwoofer. The Jetta Hybrid has Bluetooth music streaming capability as well as auxiliary inputs for portable audio players. The touchscreen navigation system also serves as a display for the rearview camera. Bike-, ski- and surfboard racks are available from Volkswagen and installed by the dealer.
Not as fuel-efficient but has a lower base price
Less fun-to-drive, although it's more fuel efficient
Only two seats and has lower mileage, but smaller size and better cargo area
TDI model costs less while getting respectable fuel-mileage