Volkswagen has made the interesting decision to position the Hybrid at the top of the Jetta model range; its $31,120 MSRP is the highest of any 2015 Jetta. Availability will be intentionally limited, so finding one at your local dealership may not be a sure thing.
Power is provided by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a well-integrated electric motor. The car can run on electric power alone at up to 37 miles per hour (44 mph in "E-Mode") for about a mile. Once the gas engine starts contributing to the effort, fuel economy numbers turn out to be very impressive: the EPA estimates that the Jetta Hybrid will get 42 miles per gallon in city driving and 48 mpg on the open highway. None of this comes at the expense of usable power or drivability; working together, the gas engine and electric motor put 170 horsepower and a very accessible 184 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels.
Instead of the efficient but characterless continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) which most other manufacturers specify for their hybrids, the Jetta Hybrid uses a modified version of Volkswagen's seven-speed automated-clutch DSG gearbox. The DSG is already one of the best self-shifting transmissions available to American drivers, and it is an excellent complement to the turbo-plus-electric power system.
Otherwise the Jetta Hybrid shares the traits of its well-respected sister models. Styling inside and out is restrained and almost formal. The interior is roomy and made of very high-quality materials. The Jetta's ride and handling are perhaps the best in this very competitive class, with a typically German buttoned-down feel.
The Jetta Hybrid comes in one fully-loaded trim level. Standard equipment includes a touchscreen to control the stereo and navigation system, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, parking distance sensors, and a blind-spot monitoring system. Options are limited to colors: two shades of silver, blue, metallic gray, black and white on the outside, and light beige or black and light gray on the inside.
It may come at a premium price but it's hard to argue that the Jetta Hybrid is anything but an excellent all-around family sedan. Deciding between the Hybrid and VW's equally good diesel Jettas will come down to personal preference and perhaps a hard look at the bottom budgetary line.
Choose your Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid »