2019 VW Jetta brings new style, tech and lower price

There's a new Jetta in town, and Volkswagen's compact sedan is growing up with bold new styling and an all-changed platform promising more fuel efficiency. Unveiled today at the Detroit Auto Show 2018, the 2019 VW Jetta makes a switch to the automaker's MQB architecture and grows in all directions as a result. That, VW promises, means more presence on the road and more cabin space inside, not to mention closing the gap between the new Jetta and Audi's A3 sedan.

Outside, the grille has grown, while the crease lines on the car are sharper and bolder. More chrome trim has been fitted, while LED lighting is standard. VW has given the new Jetta a fast-sloping roof line, to give the air of a coupe.

Though the 2019 Jetta is – at 105.7-inches – just 1.3-inches longer in its wheelbase than its predecessor, by pushing the wheels further out and shortening the overhangs VW has managed to maximize that moderate growth. It's wider and taller than before, too, which adds up to more spacious accommodations for the up to five people inside.

As for those accommodations, they've been fully redesigned from the outgoing car, with greater use of soft-touch materials and a new, trapezoidal design theme to leave the cabin more modern. New fabric colors and designs have been introduced, and there's the option of ambient lighting that can be changed between ten different colors. Leather seating surfaces are optional.

Heated and ventilated front seats are also options, as is a power driver's seat with position memory. Dual-zone automatic climate control can be added, while Driver Personalization for up to four individuals is standard. That controls – trim and specs depending – driver seat memory and assistance system preferences, temperature, ambient lighting color, radio presets, navigation view, and the customization of the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit.

The latter, standard on Jetta SEL and SEL Premium trims, replaces the analog gages with a fully digital display. It's technology that graduated down from Audi's Virtual Cockpit, bringing navigation, multimedia, and vehicle information into a customizable layout. Other tech on offer includes Volkswagen Car-Net, which has a selection of connected vehicle services, along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

A storage cubby in the center console has grown to 5 liters, sufficient to fit an iPad, while a 400 watt BeatsAudio system is optional. The Jetta's reversing camera is standard, while options include forward collision warnings with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go traffic support, automatic high-beams, and lane departure warnings and assistance. Automatic post-collision braking is also available.

Under the hood, there's a 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged, direct-injection engine. That's good for a class-leading 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, as is a six-speed transmission; an eight-speed automatic is optional on the base Jetta, but standard on higher-level trims.

Also standard with the automatic is a stop/start system, which VW says contributes to fuel economy. Actual EPA figures will have to wait until closer to the sedan's launch, however.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta will be available in Q2 2018, in S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trims. A Jetta R-Line trim will be added at launch too, with sportier styling, trim-exclusive interior and exterior design elements, and an XDS electronic differential. Arguably most impressive, pricing will kick off at $18,545, undercutting the old model.