With all the publicity surrounding the ‘clean diesel’ issue at Volkswagen, the exceptional performance and value available in their line of gasoline powered vehicles is sometimes overshadowed. A recent week spent with a new 2016 Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium compact sedan highlighted that fact loud and clear for us such that we all but forgot about the Volkswagen TDi diesel in favor of the TSi gasoline direct-injected and turbocharged engine vehicles – like the 2016 Jetta.
The Jetta was redesigned for 2015, but VW made it even better for 2016 by adding performance and value to an already well done compact sedan.
Some of the additions include a new 1.4L turbo engine at the lower trim levels, a new 1.8T Sport Trim model, MIB II Infotainment System with expanded App-Connect features, Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-Lighting System and Automatic Post-Collison Braking System.
With four trim levels, 10 equipment configurations and four power plants to select from, VW chose to send us a test Jetta that, we think, is right in the ‘sweet spot’ of their lineup.
2016 Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium Automatic
Our test car from VW was the top of the 1.8T turbocharged TSi power plant lineup, the SEL Premium, loaded up with two of their premium level package options. It came in Reflex Silver Metallic with a Titan Black Leatherette interior.
The power train on our test Jetta was the 1.8T TSi Twin Turbo four-cylinder direct injection engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It was equipped with 17-inch Aluminum Alloy Wheels and All-season tires. Other mechanical features included Four-wheel Independent Suspension, Electro-mechanical Speed-sensitive Power Steering, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Electronic Stability Control.
Standard on Jetta 1.8L SEL Premium
Exterior features included Automatic Headlights with Daytime Running Lamps, Front Fog Lights, Heated and Foldable Power Adjustable Mirrors, Rain-sensing Front Wipers with Heated Washer Nozzles and Power Sunroof.
The interior was very spacious for a compact sedan with more than expected seat and legroom for driver and front passenger. The rear seat area was most surprising with 38.1-inches of legroom and 37.1-inches of headroom – more than most competitors. The Leatherette Seating front and rear was both supportive and comfortable. The front seating was also heated.
Other features of the interior included: Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control, Tilt and Telescopic Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel with multifunctional controls, Power Driver Seat and a Cooled Glove Compartment.
Technology was abundant with premium elements including Rearview Camera, Keyless Access and Push-button Start, Cruise Control, Discover Media 6.3-inch Center Stack Navigation and new MIB II Capacitive Touchscreen Display System that enables gesture controls like swiping and pinch-zooming, VW App-Connect smartphone integration including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AM/FM/HD Radio with CD Player, USB and Auxiliary Inputs, Bluetooth Connectivity and Sirius Satellite Radio.
The sensory highlight of the technology was the Fender Premium Audio System with 400-watts of power, nine speakers and a trunk mounted subwoofer that delivered high quality sound throughout the cabin area.
Packages and Upgrades
The Lighting Package ($995) added an upgraded MultiFunction Information Display, Ambient Interior Lighting, LED Daytime Running Lights, Bi-Xenon Headlights with the Adaptive Front Lighting System plus seriously effective Dynamic Cornering Lamps. The last two being the most effective night time driving tools we have experienced in recent memory.
The Driver Assistance Package ($950) included Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking plus a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
With delivery, our 2016 Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium Automatic priced at $28,145.
Plus, as equipped, our Jetta carries an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on top of the NHTSA 5-Star by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2016 Jetta Lineup
The 2016 Jetta lineup has a well-equipped front-wheel compact sedan for just about everyone There are four trim levels for Jetta in 2016 – S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium with 10 equipment levels differentiated by their four highly efficient TSi four-cylinder power plants.
The 1.4 TSi, all-new for 2016, delivers 150 horsepower with fuel economy of 28/40 city/highway (manual transmission).
The entry level Jetta is the 1.4T S which starts at (MSRP) of $17,680 for the five-speed manual with the six-speed automatic available for another $1,100. It is followed by the 1.4T S w/Technology which adds more tech amenities at $18,675 for the manual and $19,775 for the automatic. The 1.4T SE adds 16-inch wheels plus more features and is priced at $18,995 for the manual and $20,095 for the automatic.
The 1.8 TSi turbocharged and intercooled direct fuel injected engine, the third generation of the VW EA888 engine, produces 170 horsepower with torque of 184 lb.-ft. delivering 25/37 mpg city/highway fuel economy with the manual transmission.
A limited edition model, the 1.8 TSi Sport, adds a number of performance level amenities including a sport suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels for $20,895 (manual) and $21,995 for the automatic.
The top model in the 1.8 engine group is the 1.8 TSi SEL Premium – our test Jetta. It comes in automatic transmission only, is well loaded up and has an MSRP of $25,380.
A 2.0 TSi (latest version of the EA888 engine) produces 210 horsepower with 207 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to either a manual gearbox or their new seven-speed dual clutch automatic. With the automatic, it delivers fuel economy of 25/33 mpg city/highway.
The 2.0T GLI is the premium level Jetta and comes in an SE level (MSRP $26,920) or an SEL level (MSRP $28,020) with both loaded fully with premium amenities and technology.
Jetta also comes in a hybrid version, the Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium with an MSRP of $31,120. The hybrid power plant uses the new 1.4 TSi turbo gasoline engine in combination with a 27 horsepower electric motor to produce a combined 170 horsepower with 184 lb.-ft. of torque and delivers fuel economy of 42/48 mpg city/highway.
Build one for yourself
You can go to the VW Jetta consumer website where you can easily sort through the models and options to and then click on “build your own” to create one the way you would like it.
As for us, we think our test 2016 Jetta 1.8T SEL Premium TSi with automatic transmission was right in the sweet spot of the lineup and – even with the two packages added – came in at just $28,145 delivered. It was a just right combination of performance, comfort, drivability, technology and price in a VW compact four-door sedan.