Emma Jayne Williams

Volkswagen Jetta sedan gets minor tweaks for 2017; Hybrid and Sport models dropped

Jetta, Volkswagen's best-selling sedan, has a few changes for 2017, including driver-assistance features on the lower trim levels.

The lineup has been trimmed to four models — S, SE, SEL, and GLI — priced from $17,895 for a 1.4-liter S four-cylinder turbo model with a five-speed manual transmission to $28,995 for a fully loaded 2.0T GLI four-cylinder turbo with a six-speed automatic.

Hybrid and Sport models have been eliminated. Manual and automatic transmissions are available on all models except the 1.8-liter SEL, which only offers an automatic. All models are front-wheel drive.

A rearview camera is now standard on all models, and the MIB II infotainment system has updated to a USB port to replace the proprietary cable from previous models.

This infotainment system features smartphone integration with VW Car-Net App Connect technology to bring your apps onto the touch screen using MirrorLink, Android Auto, or Apple CarPlay.

The cabin and trunk are also larger for 2017, with 15.7 cubic feet of storage. Front headroom is 38.2 inches, front legroom is 41.2 inches; rear headroom is ample due to the gently arching roof with 37.1 inches; rear legroom is 38.1 inches — except for the middle position, with the transmission hump in the way.

Rear seatbacks fold 60/40 for more room to haul long, wide cargo such as plywood, while a pass-through behind the middle seat will accommodate long, slender objects such as lumber or skis.

For this review, I drove a middle-of-the-line 1.4T SE with the five-speed manual transmission. Base price for my Jetta was $20,895. An automatic transmission adds $1,100, if you’d rather not deal with shifting gears and working a clutch.

Up to nine exterior colors are available, depending on the model chosen, including Dark Bronze Metallic, White Silver, Tornado Red, and Platinum Gray Metallic. Two interior colors are available – Titan Black and Titan Black/Cornsilk two-tone — in comfortable, breathable, easy-to-clean leatherette, with metallic appearance matte chrome trim on the doors and dash.

My vehicle came with an attractive Silk Blue Metallic exterior with Titan Black V-Tex leatherette interior, riding on 16-inch machined-face alloy Sedona wheels featuring five V-spokes with black-painted pockets and wearing all-season tires.

The tester had precise, horizontal lines, including a grille with three black cross fins trimmed with chrome, sporting a large chrome VW badge, daytime running lights with LEDs, and intakes (body-colored with black inserts), giving the front a substantial appearance.

The coupelike incline of the windshield gave my tester a look of timeless elegance, while in the rear, the aerodynamic trailing edge of the trunk gave a feeling of motion even when sitting still. A chrome VW badge perched above a chrome bar trimming the trunk lip below an LED license plate light.

Horizontal lines continued in the combination taillights with LED backup lights and darkened taillight lenses. The heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors had a line of LED turn signal lights, and the beltline was trimmed with chrome from A-pillar to C-pillar.

VW CarNet telematics included App-Connect smartphone integration and interface for access to music, mapping, messaging/calling, and more, using apps imported from a connected smartphone; and Security & Service for access to emergency assistance (automatic crash notification, roadside assistance), remote access to check if doors are locked and/or windows are closed (lock and/or close if needed), locate the last parked location, and receive vehicle health reports.

Security & Service also includes Geo-fencing to set speed and boundary alerts for younger drivers and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance for law enforcement.

The telematics system was easy to use, with a sharp interface, using the 6.3-inch touch screen of the composition media system. A proximity sensor detected the presence of a hand and brought up a menu of basic functions. The composition media system included AM/FM/HD radio and CD player with USB and auxiliary inputs, four speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

Volkswagen addresses safety from the outside in, starting with a stiff, rigid shell, seamless laser welding, and high-strength steel where air bags are located.

A crash-optimized front end absorbs crash energy, while pedals detach and move away from the driver's feet and the steering column collapses and deforms on impact to protect the driver from contact with the steering wheel. Anti-intrusion side door beams help mitigate injury from a T-bone type collision.

Automatic Post-collision Braking applies the brakes if a collision is detected by airbag sensors. This helps minimize or prevent secondary collisions with the vehicle still in motion after the primary collision.

An Intelligent Crash Response System, also activated by air bag deployment, turns off the fuel pump (keeps fuel confined to the fuel tank, instead of leaking and causing secondary hazards to occupants and first responders), unlocks the doors (allows occupants to exit or first responders easier access to injured occupants), and turns on the hazard lights (alerts other vehicles and helps first responders locate the damaged vehicle).

Front passengers have seat-mounted side air bags, and both rows have side-curtain head-impact air bags.

Driver-assistance technology included a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Cruise Control, Brake Override, and Emergency Brake Assist/Hydraulic Brake Assist.

Brake Override automatically overrides the vehicle's throttle if both the brake and accelerator are depressed at the same time, to stop the vehicle even if the engine is accelerating. EBA/HBA detects panic stops and initiates full braking more quickly and completely than the driver alone, helping reduce the likelihood of a rear-end type accident.

My Jetta had amenities such as heated front seats (manual adjustments); front console with two cupholders, armrest, and storage cubby; a cooling glove box; front reading lights; and heated front windshield wiper washer nozzles.

A multi-function driver information display included a trip computer with trip time and length, average speed, average and current fuel consumption, miles-to-empty, speed warning and current speed, and outside temperature.

The Jetta's interior was spacious and comfortable, although somewhat bland, with hard shiny plastic.

EPA ratings for the 150-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo with manual transmission were 28 mpg city/40 highway/33 combined. I averaged 36 mpg, mostly driving on open highway. With the automatic transmission, the ratings are 28 city/38 highway.

With $820 destination charge added to the base price, the total delivered price of my nice basic Jetta was $21,715. Not bad for a comfortable, safe, economical small family vehicle.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.