Volkswagen has been positioning its Hybrid sedan at the pinnacle of the Jetta model range: in SEL Premium trim. At $31,120 (plus destination charge), its MSRP is the highest of any 2016 Jetta. Availability has been intentionally limited, so finding a Jetta Hybrid at your local dealership might 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 starts out and runs on electric power alone at up to 37 mph for a mile or so before the gas engine kicks in. Pressing an “E-Mode” button lets it run on battery power up to 44 mph. Once the gas engine begins contributing to the effort, fuel economy numbers turn out to be impressive indeed: the EPA estimates that a Jetta Hybrid will get 42 miles per gallon in city driving and 48 mpg on the highway (44 mpg combined).
None of this economic operation comes at the expense of usable power or drivability. Working alone, the gas engine produces 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Operating in concert with the electric motor/generator, the hybrid system sends 170 horsepower to the front wheels.
Instead of the efficient but often characterless continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) that 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 has been one of the best self-shifting transmissions available to American drivers, and serves as an excellent complement to the turbo-plus-electric power system.
Otherwise, the Jetta Hybrid shares the traits of its highly-respected sister models. Styling inside and out is restrained, almost formal. The roomy interior uses high-quality materials. Ride and handling are among the best in this very competitive class, with a typically German buttoned-down feel.
The Jetta Hybrid comes in one fully-loaded SEL Premium trim level. Standard equipment includes a 6.3-inch touchscreen to control the stereo and navigation system, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, parking distance sensors, rearview camera, and a blind-spot monitoring system. Also standard are bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, VW Car-Net connectivity, pushbutton start, a power driver’s seat, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, and 17-inch wheels. Options are limited to colors and a handful of minor accessories.
Even though the Jetta Hybrid commands a premium price, it's an excellent all-around family sedan that happens to achieve superior fuel economy. Deciding between the Hybrid and VW's diesel Jettas used to be a matter of personal preference and price. Since the diesel-engine fraud scandal erupted in fall of 2015, not many buyers or critics are leaning toward any of Volkswagen’s diesel offerings. So, the fuel-efficiency choice is now between the Hybrid and the most thrifty gas-engine model.
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