2018 Volkswagen Jetta Expert Review

4.1 Overall Score
Performance 4.2 Comfort 4.3 Styling 4.2 Value 3.9

Editor's Overview

Volkswagen’s least expensive model, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is a sporty turbocharged compact sedan with as much as 210 horsepower. Stylish, fuel-efficient and fun to drive, the new VW Jetta is available in six trim levels, Jetta S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, SE Sport, SEL and GLI with prices starting under $20,000 with a manual transmission.

You'll Like The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta If...

If you desire a sporty fuel-efficient sedan with European flair and a comfortable, high-quality interior you’ll like the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta. VW is known for its excellent turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, and the 1.4-liter, 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter variants available in the Jetta are smooth, powerful and they can surely stretch a gallon of gas.

You May Not Like The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta If...

The Jetta is available only as a sedan. If you want a hatchback or a small wagon, Volkswagen offers the very similar and popular Golf. If you’re looking for a diesel engine in this class, check out the Chevy Cruze, and if all-wheel drive is on your wish list, shop the Subaru Impreza or the VW Golf SportWagen.

What's New

For 2018, every trim level of the Jetta gets some styling tweaks to modernize their look. There's also a new value-oriented Wolfsburg Edition with additional creature comforts, including heated Leatherette seats and a unique front sport bumper with fog lights. This year, all Volkswagens get a longer 6-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper Limited Warranty, which is better than most in the class.

Interior Features

The new VW Jetta is a 5-passenger sedan that offers good interior space, though rear legroom can't quite match that of the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. At 15.5 cubic feet, the Jetta's trunk is as big as that of a midsize sedan. The Jetta's interior feels minimalist and clean, with DNA from its European cousin Audi. We like small touches such as the adjustable armrest between the driver and passenger that comes on all but base models, and the 1-touch power operation for all four windows. Unlike competitors, genuine leather seating isn't offered -- just V-Tex Leatherette. All Jettas come with a simple-to-use touch-screen audio system.

Exterior Features

This year VW’s designers put on a pot of dark roast and created a new chrome grille for many of the Jetta’s six trim levels, a new black grille for the Jetta SE, and a few other exterior tweaks including new badging and wheel designs. The effort modernizes the sedan’s overall look, but doesn’t radicalize its understated quiet sophistication we’ve always appreciated. While the Jetta may not scream, "Look at me," it will stand the test of time better than a fair share of its rivals. Jetta GLI models can be spotted via their unique front fascia with a honeycomb grille and a small rear spoiler.

Driving Impressions

Now in its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Jetta has been one of the most fun-to-drive small sedans since <i>The Dukes of Hazzard</i> aired on prime time. From behind the wheel the new 2018 Jetta feels small and agile, but also solid and strong. We appreciate the Jetta's responsive steering, and its suspension provides a taut but compliant ride, both in the city and out on the highway. The Jetta S, Wolfsburg Edition and SE models come with a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that delivers good acceleration and great efficiency, while the Jetta SEL uses a larger, 1.8-liter turbo-4 that has more punch yet still offers good fuel economy. The Jetta GLI is the most powerful variant with its 210-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo, and combined with its sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels can be thought of as a less-expensive Audi A3. Audi is the luxury-brand cousin of Volkswagen and the A3 uses the same turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.

Pricing Notes

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $19,495 including an $850 destination fee for a base, manual-transmission model. Most buyers will opt for an automatic, which is an extra $1,000, but it’s a no-cost option on the Wolfsburg Edition and SE models. We recommend at least stepping up to the SE model, which has more amenities and the blind-spot-monitoring safety feature. It’s a good value at about $22,000. The Jetta SEL begins quite a bit higher at about $27.000, while the 2018 Jetta GLI starts just over $30,000 with an automatic transmission. At these prices, the Jetta begins slightly above rivals like the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new Jetta. Going forward, we expect the Jetta's resale value to be on the lower end of the compact-car spectrum.

Notable Equipment

The 2018 Jetta lineup consists of six trims: S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, SE Sport, SEL and the top-line, performance-oriented GLI. At its most basic, the Jetta includes a turbocharged engine, 5-speed manual transmission (automatic is optional), rearview camera, 6-way driver's seat with height adjustment, and 16-inch wheels. Infotainment is provided by a 5-inch color touch-screen system that incorporates an AM/FM/CD player with SD and USB ports, and Bluetooth phone connectivity. For about $2,500 more, the SE model includes a power sunroof, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, larger touch-screen display with phone app features, faux leather seating, push-button start and premium wheels.

Notable Options

Aside from a 6-speed automatic transmission that's standard on SE Sport and SEL models, most extras in the 2018 Jetta sedan are had by climbing trims. The SE Sport and SEL also include a larger, more powerful engine. The SE Sport gets 17-inch wheels and a sunroof, while the SEL gets a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation system, a 400-watt Fender premium audio system, rain-sensing windshield wipers and forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Top-line GLI models add a still-more-powerful engine, sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and the Park Pilot front and rear parking-sensor system.

Favorite Features

The result of collaboration between Fender and Panasonic, the Jetta’s available Fender Premium Audio System cranks 400 watts of power through nine speakers and a trunk-mounted subwoofer. The result is one of the strongest audio systems in the class with good tone, bangin’ bass and impressive highs. Crank it up.


Featured on the performance-oriented Jetta GLI this technology improves the Jetta’s cornering performance. It’s an electronic substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential. If the Jetta’s front tires lose grip with the road while turning, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel to restore traction.

Under the Hood

For 2018, the new VW Jetta is offered with a choice of three turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engines. On the upside, whichever of the three you choose is easy to recommend. Jetta S, Wolfsburg Edition and SE models use a 1.4-liter, SE Sport and SEL models have a more powerful 1.8-liter, and the GLI goes larger (and more powerful still) with a 2.0-liter. All Jettas are front-wheel drive. The S, Wolfsburg Edition and SE models come with a 5-speed manual transmission, but most buyers will opt for the 6-speed automatic, which is standard on the Sport and SEL. The manual transmission on Jetta GLI models is a 6-speed. Though VW notes that the max power figures seen below are achieved via premium gasoline, all the engines are fine drinking less expensive regular grade.

1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE)

150 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm

184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/40 mpg (manual), 28/38 mpg (automatic)

1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4 (SEL, SE Sport)

170 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm

184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/35 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GLI)

210 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm

207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual), 24/33 mpg (automatic)

Editors' Notes

Volkswagen’s least expensive model, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is a sporty compact sedan with as much as 210 horsepower. Stylish, fuel-efficient and fun to drive, the new VW Jetta is available in six trim levels, Jetta S, Wolfsburg Edition, SE, SE Sport, SEL and GLI with prices starting under $20,000 with a manual transmission. All 2018 Jettas are powered by turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, ranging from a small 1.4-liter to the potent 2.0-liter in the performance-oriented Jetta GLI. This year, to help the Jetta compete with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra, it has bettered the sedan’s warranty considerably. New Jettas now come with a 6-year or 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper Limited Warranty, which is better than most in the class.

Road Test Video Reviews

  • 2018 Volkswagen Jetta: Review
    2018 Volkswagen Jetta: Review
  • 2019 Volkswagen Jetta - Review & Road Test
    2019 Volkswagen Jetta - Review & Road Test
  • 2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium – The Baby Audi Returns
    2019 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium – The Baby Audi Returns
  • 2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T – Basic Transportation "GerMerican" Style
    2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T – Basic Transportation "GerMerican" Style
  • 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: A Quick Overview
    2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: A Quick Overview
  • 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Review
    2019 Volkswagen Jetta: Review

Owner Reviews


72 Reviews

75% 21% 4% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

Great car for the price! Nice braking &amp; lane changing assist features.

My 2018 VW Jetta 1.8t sport is a very nice vehicle for the price I paid for. There are a few thing that VW made it so wrong because they do not keep their traditional! (1) cheap interior quality, (2) soft suspension, (3) it is second top trim but VW does not include (or remove) digital climate control, auto headlamp, remote garage opener, lousy speakers (head unit should be ok!). However, these are pro items - great engine, good freeway mileage, solid body, great brake &amp; lane changing assist.

- Erik E

This car drives so smooth on any road.

I really love driving a Jetta. The car is the perfect size (not too big, but has plenty of room for what I need). The drive is so smooth regardless of the road condition I am driving on. The speed builds smoothly as well. The Bluetooth for my phone is perfect because it hooks up easily, and I am able to use the steering wheel controls for the music too. The heated seats are also perfect for cold nights. The trunk also fits a decent amount in it.

- Caroline M

Great gas mileage turbo is great to have when you need to drive in a busy city.

I absolutely love this vehicle I have had no issues with it so far. The gas mileage is fantastic I can go 2 weeks driving back and forth to work on one tank of gas and still have gas left my job is only about 5 miles away but I also drive long distances sometimes with my job and I just love how far I get. Another thing that I love about this car is the power it has if I need to get up and go the power is right there.

- Tammy H