Volkswagen Jetta Sportswagen
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Overall

For most families, this will be all the Volkswagen they’ll ever need; A new turbo engine and everyone gets the GLI’s more sophisticated independent rear suspension; Diesel option has great power and fuel economy, but there’s also a gas-electric hybrid.

Drivetrain

A 115-horsepower four-cylinder for base Jetta sedans, with new 170-horsepower turbo four-cylinder standard for other trims; 140-horsepower turbo-diesel and 210-horsepower turbo-four are optional; SportWagen uses 170-horse five-cylinder, exclusively, plus turbo-diesel option; Hybrid’s gas-electric combo makes 170 net horsepower.

The Jetta has clearly become the variety performer in VW’s lineup. For 2014, no fewer than six different powertrains (including a gasoline-electric team in the Hybrid) are offered, which makes VW’s compact brand the epitome of versatility.
It’s also the first sedan model in VW’s lineup to begin the 2014 model year with a newly available 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is torquier and better on gas than the outgoing 170-horsepower five-cylinder that lingers for another year as the Jetta SportWagen’s base engine. Back for another season are the usual suspects: the older 115-horsepower four-cylinder in the price-leader Jetta S; the optional 210-horsepower turbo-four (up 10 ponies for 2014) in the GLI; and the 140-horsepower turbo-diesel that’s rated at 30 mpg in the city and 42 on the highway. Not to be forgotten is the impressive Jetta Hybrid that’s uniquely teamed with a seven-speed automated manual gearbox (DSG). The Hybrid can run for up to 1.2 miles on electric power alone at speeds up to 44 mph, reach 60 mph from rest in less than nine seconds and achieve up to 45 mpg in combined city and highway driving. For 2014, all Jettas receive a more performance-oriented multi-link rear suspension that previously was exclusive to the Jetta GLI (think of VW Golf-based GTI with a trunk instead of a rear hatch). The multi-link probably won’t be noticed by most Jetta drivers, but anyone who loves to carve through twisty two-lane back roads should feel the difference in the car’s handling dynamics.

Base price (incl. destination): $17,500; $21,600 (SportWagen); $28,100 (Hybrid)
Type: Four-door sedan; four-door wagon
Base engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4 (115); 2.5-liter DOHC I5 (170, SportWagen)
Optional engines (hp): 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder, turbocharged (170); 2.0-liter SOHC four-cylinder, turbo-diesel (140); 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder, turbocharged (210, GLI); 1.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder, turbocharged, plus 27-horsepower electric motor (170 net, hybrid)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Five-speed manual; six-speed manual (GLI and TDI); six-speed automatic (opt. on 2.5, 1.8); six-speed automated manual (DSG, opt. on GLI and TDI); seven-speed automated manual (DSG, hybrid)
MPG (city/hwy): 24/34 (2.0, MT, sedan); 30/42 (TDI)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; (opt.); anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,800