2015 Volkswagen Jetta – Finally Stepping Up

A lot of changes come to the Volkswagen Jetta for 2015 and they’re all good. For several years, the Jetta was an “also ran” compact-midsize offering, but now the 2015 Jetta has stepped up as a more competitive entry-level offering.

Quick Specs & Info

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Class:
Base Model As Tested: 1.8T SE
Powertrain 2.0L i4, 5spd manual Powertrain 1.8L i4, 5spd manual
Base MSRP $16,215 MSRP as tested $20,810


The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta is a far cry from the previous-generation, which was lackluster and bereft of emotion. This new Jetta sports a better exterior look, a roomier interior, higher safety scores, and a new diesel engine. Our test model was not the TDI, however, but instead an impressive turbocharged gasoline offering in a mid-level trim – sort of the “everyman’s Jetta” as one of the more popular packages the car sells in.

In this segment and at around this price point, there is a lot of competition, though, so although the 2015 Jetta sees plenty of improvement, those updates are more about catching up than getting ahead. Compared to the segment leader, this Jetta is a better car in almost every way, but so are most of its rivals.

Exterior Style for the 2015 VW Jetta

Most of the style updates for the new Jetta are in the front and rear. The front fascia is a bit slimmer and more contemporary with less emphasis on the grille and more on sleek aerodynamics. The rear is also a bit slimmer and has a more rounded look to its lighting. Along the sides of the car are accent lines that give the Jetta a more upscale look than the plain-Jane panels it carried before.

The complete look is still contemporary and not overly standout in the crowded compact market, but it is more appealing than it was before. Those who prefer simpler, more straight-forward styling will like the new Jetta’s look.

Inside the 2015 Jetta

2015 Volkswagen Jetta - interior 2 - AOA1200pxThe interior of the new VW Jetta sees a lot of quality improvements. The spacious cabin area is similar to its predecessor, but materials quality is much better and styling, though still emphasizing the spartan look, is much more modern. Even in the mid-level trim as we drove it, the cloth seating and relatively blank dashboard was still of upscale material and spoke of robust capability.

The Jetta has a good-sized trunk, spacious back seats (for the segment), and very adjustable and nicely-placed front seating. Driver controls are ergonomic and easy to use, and as a daily driver, the Jetta now has more comfort and convenience than it has ever had before.

Under the Jetta’s Hood

The 2015 Jetta has several powertrain options, including a lackluster base level 2.0-liter four-cylinder (115 horsepower) through a five-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic. Our test model was the better 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder option (170 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque) with a five-speed standard transmission or six-speed automatic option. We had the five-speed manual and greatly enjoyed its simple shift throw and easy clutch.

The EPA gives the 1.8L engine ratings of 29 mpg combined with the standard and 30 mpg combined for the automatic. We saw a little less than that, but considering altitude and crosswinds, not enough that we don’t see it as achievable.

Other engine options include a diesel TDI and a hybrid option.

On the Road in the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta

With the 1.8L and standard transmission, the Jetta is a spritely little goer with a fun attitude and good road presence. Like most in this segment, it has a lot of road noise and is far from a well-cushioned luxury ride, but the Jetta does well for itself and is one of the more fun cars to drive at this price point.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta - wall 4 - AOA1200pxOur time in the car was spent mostly in-town and on the highway with some freeway driving. I drove it alone and with passengers, including childrens’ safety seats (car seats) and other adults. In all cases, the Jetta is a good drive with a confident presence on the road. Our sport model was a little rough in suspension, but not horribly so. We found the car to be comfortable, capable, and nicely appointed for the price.

For the record, the new high scores from both NHTSA and IIHS crash testing are reassuring and mean that the Jetta has taken a big leap forward in safety design.


Key competitors against the VW Jetta include the segment-leading Toyota Corolla, which was redesigned in 2014 to its own detriment. Others in this class include the excellent Mazda3, the well-done Ford Focus (review coming soon), and the great little Kia Forte. All of those, as well as the second-best selling Honda Civic, are top notch considerations. For many buyers, the choice will come down to preferences in strengths and weaknesses as well as price point and nameplate.

Strong Points

Much-improved styling that retains the Jetta’s “not too outlandish” appeal.

Great powerplant options.


Still below par against several rivals when updated.


Competition in the compact market is fierce and the Jetta has been lagging behind for several years. With the new 2015 Volkswagen Jetta, though, that has changed. As an overall package, the Jetta is now equal to its rivals at the entry-level. As we drove it, the Jetta is a good drive with a great engine. Well worth adding to the list of considerations.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Jetta was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week, during which time we put about 220 miles on the vehicle in a combination of in-town and highway driving with various passenger loads.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.