Monday, December 31, 2018



Introduced nearly a year ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta kicks off the new year as a fully redesigned sedan that should ensure its role as one of the German automaker’s top sellers and make it more of a contender it its class as well.

Built on the company’s new MQB platform, it also gets a new trim level with R-Line features added to the lineup along with S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium treatments. At $23,890 including the $895 destination and delivery charge, the R-Line falls right in the middle of Jetta’s pricing chart that ranges from $19,440 for an S with a 6-speed manual transmission to $27,390 for the SEL Premium and its standard 8-speed automatic tranny.

Like all Jettas, the R-Line gets a turbocharged, 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that rates among the leaders in fuel economy among non-hybrid compact sedans. Government figures are 30 miles-per-gallon city, 40 highway, and 34 combined whether equipped with the manual or the automatic, which is standard on all but the S model.

Yes, you sacrifice a bit in straight-ahead power (figures are 147 horsepower and 5000 rpm and 184 at 1400) for those numbers, but you can kick up performance a bit by switching to Sport mode. (Other choices are Eco, Normal, and Custom.)

Though with some brands you may get extra performance from “R” designated models, the “R” in this case pertains to sportier styling features like special 17-inch wheels, a more aggressive rear bumper with dual exhaust, a gloss-black grille, black side mirror caps, R-Line badging, and a unique leather-wrapped steering wheel with R-Line insignia.

Still, it felt pretty lively in my around-town experience.

The R-Line also gets VW’s XDS Cross Differential System that helps improve stability, handling, and cornering. Other than that and the other special features, the R-Line gets standard equipment similar to that on SE models.

That includes VW’s MIB II touchscreen infotainment system with a 6.5-inch screen, Android and Apple CarPlay connectivity, Bluetooth communications, LED headlamps and taillights, sunroof, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone A/C, and keyless entry with push-button start.

Among safety features, the R-Line is in line with other Jetta trims with a rear-view camera, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor, and the usual collection of airbags.

Optional features for the Jetta R-Line include a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, remote start, heated front washer nozzles, and heated windshield wiper park that can be all gotten together in a Cold Weather Package.

As noted, the Jetta is one of VW’s best sellers. The company reports that more than 17.5 million have been sold since it was introduced in 1979 with 3.2 million of those sold in the U.S. 

Sales have fallen off a bit for the first 11 months of 2018, though they picked up for last November. December numbers are not in as of this writing.

What I liked about the Volkswagen Jetta R-Line: It has a quiet ride, the and the R-Line touches give it a nice sporty look. The infotainment features, such as they were on my test model, were user-friendly, and the trunk is a nice-size (14.1 cubic feet) for the class.

What I didn’t like about the Volkswagen Jetta R-Line: I’d like to give whoever came up with the idea of a two-stage trunk lid a knock on the head, which is what you will get from the lid itself if you aren’t careful. If not opened fully, the lid starts to lower to closing position, giving you an unexpected knock on the noggin as you start to load it if you are not careful. 

Would I buy the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line: I’d definitely consider it, though the interior could use a little less plastic surfaces.

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