VW’s Jetta GLI Autobahn is a great sporty value

Beach Wheels

I’ve always thought of the Volkswagen Jetta as an under-appreciated sports sedan. But since its introduction in 1979, the Jetta has been quietly and dependably serving a growing number of happy owners.

It’s a quality automotive product that deserves our respect.

Now in its seventh generation, the modern-day Jetta is built on the same modular platform as is the VW Atlas and the Tiguan. Recently, I drove a 2020 Jetta GLI Autobahn Edition and found it to be quick and satisfying to drive.

After last year’s major refresh, the 2020 model year brings only small changes to the vehicle. Those include in-car Wi-Fi capability and the next generation of VW’s Car-Net telematics system. 

My GLI Autobahn included standard wireless charging, 18-inch steel alloy wheels, a black spoiler and black mirror caps as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The vehicle also came with LED lighting, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.

Under the hood, my tester featured a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine that generated a solid 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. 

That engine, which is borrowed from the automaker’s venerable GTI hot hatchback, is mated to a 6-speed manual or a fast-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. My tester came with paddle shifters and launch control. My 0-60 time was 5.5 seconds.

The GLI Autobahn comes with a large sunroof, 8-inch infotainment screen, and VW’s “Digital Cockpit,” which consists of a fully digital gauge cluster.

VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control suspension damping system delivered a compliant, steady ride with minimum body roll.

Safety features in my tester included a backup camera and six airbags, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic detection and blind-spot monitoring. Other safety elements include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for my tester, as spec’d, is about $31,000.

The Jetta competes generally with the Kia Forte, the Mazda 3, the Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic.

Gas mileage on the GLI Autobahn was good. I received 25 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined.

In a crowded market of sports sedans, it’s hard to stand out. While the Jetta Final thoughts: The GLI Autobahn might not set off fireworks every time you get in it, but it does deliver confidence and a sense of well being like few other cars. The vehicle is built like a rock and has great fit and finish throughout. It will deliver years of great, fun driving to you and your family. Buy with confidence.

Jeff Mitchell is a Los Angeles-based automotive writer and reviewer. Reach him at j.edward.mitchell@gmail.com

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