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2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Test Drive Review

For 2017 Volkswagen, has streamlined the Jetta lineup to just four different trim levels (S, SE, SEL, GLI) in an effort to help consumers find their best fit without too much fuss.

Not that this has ever been a problem, as the Jetta has been around for 38 years. It was introduced back in 1979, and has sold over 14 million units worldwide. It’s always been one of those go-to cars for those looking for small, stylish transportation that won’t break the bank, and with prices ranging from $17,895** for a base Jetta S, to just under $28k** for the Jetta GLI 2.0T, it’s easy to see why this car has been around for almost four decades.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Exterior:

The Jetta goes about its business with a refined subtlety few can match, and offers owners an elevated level of refinement that makes it a joy to pilot on a day-to-day basis. A few years ago, Volkswagen refreshed the Jetta, giving it an updated grille and a more aggressive lower air dam with integrated driving lights, and the rear end also sports a revised deck lid, a slightly retooled bumper with inverted reflectors, and an attractive piece of chrome trim on the lower trunk panel. Rims are 17×7-inch split-spoke alloys riding on Continental all-season tires, and help lend to a sportier overall vibe than previous models. Blacked out trim and the use of subtle chrome strips along the beltline are also nice touches, and the large windows ensure great outward visibility.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Interior:

At $25,815** our Jetta SEL was equipped nicely. With Titan Black V-Tex leatherette-trimmed heated seats (six-way power adjustability for the driver), a soft-textured dash, high-gloss painted plastics and a six-speaker audio system, it feels quite a few notches above its window sticker. The analog gauge cluster is another win, and features large round gauges along with a digital screen providing immediate and average fuel economy, a digital speedometer, and oil temperature.

In 2016, the Jetta received the addition of Volkswagen’s MIB II infotainment system with VW Car-Net App Connect. This allows for easier smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it’s a welcome addition. The large 6.3-inch touchscreen on our test model allowed for easy access to vehicle settings, navigation functions, standard backup camera, and audio functions. The dual climate controls were a snap to use, and the heated seats were welcome on chilly mornings.

Notably, there’s also quite a bit of room in the cabin. At 6’4” and 245 pounds, I was not only comfortable up front, but I fit fine in the rear as well. Then there’s the massive 15.7 cu-ft of trunk space, which is bigger than most mid-sized sedans. Visibility, ergonomics and lack of interior noise also receive high marks. Cabin materials (although a bit gray) are first-rate, and give the Jetta a decidedly upmarket feel.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Performance:

The 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection puts out 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That means you’ll hit 60 mph in around 7.5 seconds and run the quarter mile in just over 16-seconds– respectable times for a car that’s EPA rated at 35 mpg highway*, 25 city* and 29 mpg overall*. Power is put down through a smooth shifting six-speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic mode to the front wheels. For 2017, the Jetta SEL also gets Front Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. And while drivers should understand they’ll never mistake the Jetta for a sport sedan, it handled much better than expected, thanks in part to the fully independent rear suspension and the electric-assisted steering. Overall, this is is a vehicle that’s far more capable then many enthusiasts give it credit for.

Braking performance was on par with others in the class, with the Jetta delivering a nice firm pedal and stops that were void of drama. Ride quality was better than average, the cabin was quiet, and any imperfections in the pavement were swallowed up by a well-damped suspension. Combine these elements with the comfortable interior, and you’ve got a car that leaves drivers with little fatigue, even after a 400-mile day.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Safety:

The 2017 Volkswagen Jetta has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and has received a 5-Star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. Safety features include front and side airbags for both driver and passenger, side-curtain airbags, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, daytime LED running lights, electronic stability control, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, park distance control and an intelligent crash response system with emergency braking.

2017 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SEL Overall:

By offering a car with respectable fuel economy, vast interior space for its size, good power, and a nice array of features, Volkswagen has refined the 2017 Jetta SEL to a point where it’s one of the best small cars on the market. Period.

Drop by  your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer today to check one out!

*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.

**Vehicle MSRP of $25,815.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.

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