The rest of the Jetta line continues with most versions getting a 2.5-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 170 horsepower and mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic and up to 33 MPG highway. Base S models get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 115 horsepower and the same transmissions as the 2.5. TDI models get a 2.0-liter 140-horsepower turbodiesel four-cylinder, with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG transmission and up to 42 MPG on the highway. The GLI gets the same transmissions, but pairs them to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 33 MPG highway. For 2013, the GLI also gets Launch Control, a performance device seen on exotic sports cars.
Check out the rest of our picks for the top sedans of 2013
The Jetta appeals to compact car buyers who like the European lines, the slightly higher prestige of the VW badge that also comes with free scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the spacious rear seat and trunk. The Jetta SportWagen remains one of the few wagon options on the market and is for now one of the few cars with a diesel option. The Chevrolet Cruze is a popular competitor, with an Eco trim that matches the TDI's EPA fuel economy ratings, offers a nicer interior than the Jetta and offers features unavailable to Jetta like OnStar. But the Cruze's interior is tighter in the rear and there's no high-performance option like the GLI. The Ford Focus offers a hatchback to compete with the Jetta SportWagen, has features the Jetta doesn't offer like active park assist and has a faster ST hatchback coming for the 2013 model year. The Focus gets expensive though and its PowerShift dual-clutch transmission isn't as smooth as VW's automatic or DSG. The Subaru Impreza offers both sedan and hatchback variants and standard all-wheel drive, something the Jetta doesn't have even as an option. The Jetta is more spacious, however, and its TDI models has superior fuel economy. The new Dodge Dart is also large for the compact class, with a large interior and trunk, and its optional UConnect Touch infotainment and navigation system surpasses what any Jetta can offer. The Dart's interior is also better appointed. But it comes only as a sedan. The Honda Civic may be high-ranking on the sales charts, but it falls down with available technology, offering a truly hot performance option and offering a hatchback or wagon option. The interior and trunk are not as voluminous as the Jetta's either. But the Civic offers a hybrid option and is fuel-efficient in its own right. And there's an available coupe, too.
Ultimately, the Jetta appeals to lots of customers looking for a sedan or wagon or performance sedan for not a lot of money. The base S model is sparsely equipped and all but GLI and SEL models have some tacky interior pieces. But its understated styling doesn't offend and engines like the 2.0 turbo and TDI quietly impress. The Jetta aims to be both sensible with fuel efficient options and fun with the performance model.
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