VW Drops Base Trim For 2022 GLI

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - November 2, 2021

For 2022, Volkswagen will not offer the sporty GLI sedan in a base trim. Instead, the sedan will only be available in a fully-loaded Autobahn trim. That decision sees pricing for the 2022 GLI start at $31,990, which is a hefty amount more than last year’s entry-level GLI that started at $27,635. Not only is the GLI far more expensive than last year, but it also means that the sedan is more expensive than the 2022 GTI that was fully redesigned for the model year.

Compared to last year, the 2022 GLI is a $4,355 upgrade. But that’s comparing last year’s S trim to the Autobahn. Comparing Autobahn to Autobahn trims reveals a difference of just $250. For 2022, Volkswagen has given the GLI a refresh with a sleeker design, updated seats, and more standard safety features. The GLI’s powertrains remain the same as last year. An extra $250 for the new look and features is worth the upgrade.

Shoppers looking to get into a sporty Volkswagen might be better off looking at the fully redesigned 2022 GTI. VW will offer the GTI in three trims — S, SE, and Autobahn. The S trim starts at $30,540, which is $1,450 cheaper than the GLI. Unlike the GLI, the GTI is all-new for 2022, featuring a fresh design, a redesigned interior, an updated engine, and a massive tech upgrade over the previous model year. Comparing the GLI Autobahn against the GTI S gives the hatchback a large advantage.

Looking at the GLI Autobahn and comparing it to the GTI Autobahn reveals a $7,000 difference. The 2022 GTI Autobahn starts at $38,990, representing a large difference between the most affordable GLI Autobahn. The GTI Autobahn is a far more upscale and high-tech vehicle than the GLI Autobahn, though. Features on the hatchback that you won’t find on the sedan include tri-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, adaptive headlights, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s sport seat, a 10-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, and a Harman Kardon audio system. Additionally, the GTI comes with a 241-horsepower engine compared to the GLI’s 228-hp motor. While these features sound nice, they’re certainly not worth $7,000.

For most shoppers, we think the all-new GTI will be a far better fit. It may not have the same design as a sedan, but it offers better performance, more available tech features, a sharper design, and the versatility of a hatchback body. The midlevel SE trim that costs $35,290 will be the sweet spot for most people. It costs $3,300 more than the GLI Autobahn, but comes with more features and all of the benefits from the redesign.

For shoppers that aren’t interested in paying extra to get a performance vehicle, the Jetta is far more affordable than the GLI. Pricing for the Jetta S starts at $21,190, $10,800 less than the GLI. Even the range-topping Jetta SEL that costs $28,790 comes with a lot of the same features as the GLI — except for the performance components — for $3,200 less. That’s a large difference, though the GLI does come with adaptive suspension, a limited-slip differential, different drive modes, and a more powerful engine.

Volkswagen didn’t say why it reduced the GLI’s lineup, but we think it might be due to last year’s sales. We assume the Autobahn was the best seller, so VW decided to retain that trim, while ditching last year’s S model. The fact that VW came out with a fully redesigned GTI at the same time as it came out with a refreshed GLI could also play a role in the decision. VW could want consumers to gravitate toward the GTI, and limiting the GLI’s lineup would do just that.

See Volkswagen's Current Lineup

Pictured: 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI (Top), 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI (Middle)

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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