Volkswagen's cheapest car is rising to its big 2022 challenge

Volkswagen has revealed the 2022 Jetta, and with recent discontinuations the automaker's cheapest model in the US has a lot resting on it. VW recently confirmed it would be cutting the base Golf and the Passat from its North American line-up, paring back some of its more value-focused cars as it pushes electrification in the ID. range.

So, the current VW Golf and VW Passat are the last of their breed, in the US at least. The 2022 Jetta will try to occupy the space that once took three models, along with its 2022 Jetta GLI sibling.

To do that, Volkswagen will have four different 2022 Jetta trims, each with a new engine and more active safety tech. There'll be a new 2022 Jetta Sport trim, for those wanting a more aggressive appearance but without a big uptick in price. A rarity in the auto world right now, a six-speed manual transmission will be offered, too.

Under the hood, the 2022 Jetta will use the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that Volkswagen adopted in the VW Taos crossover. That's good for 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It'll also be more efficient, the automaker claims, with more low-end torque, and can be paired with either the manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic.

The 2022 Jetta GLI will stick with a 2.0-liter engine. That'll offer 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and come with the six-speed manual as standard. VW's seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic will be an option, while the electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and DCC adaptive damping will be standard.

New for 2022, it'll also be spreading to at least some models in the regular Jetta line-up. The new 2022 Jetta Sport will have the electronic differential lock and 17-inch dark graphite alloy wheels as standard, together with a blacked-out grille, mirror caps and window trim, a black headliner, and unique cloth sport seats. It'll sit just above the base 2022 Jetta S, undercutting – and replacing – the old Jetta R-Line.

Outside, the front and rear bumpers are redesigned, while LED headlamps and DRLs are standard. The top-trim Jetta, and Jetta GLI, get projector LEDs. Inside, the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit with an 8-inch display is now standard on all Jetta trims; the GLI upgrades to a 10-inch Digital Cockpit Pro version. 4G LTE with WiFi hotspot is standard, as is rhombus cloth seats; top Jetta trims and the GLI get MIB3 infotainment with wireless charging and wireless App-Connect.

The Jetta can be had with leatherette and leather seating, while the GLI gets perforated leather with red contrast stitching as standard, plus a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Standard Jetta has available heated front and rear seats, and available front seat ventilation, while GLI has standard heated and ventilated seats plus automatic climate control, push-button start, and keyless-entry.

It's active safety tech where things take a big step forward. All 2022 Jetta models get front assist, blind spot warnings, and rear traffic alerts. IQ.DRIVE – with forward collision warnings and autonomous emergency braking plus pedestrian monitoring, active blind spot monitor, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control – is optional on the low-end Jetta and then standard from the mid-trim and up.

Volkswagen is yet to confirm pricing for the 2022 Jetta and 2022 Jetta GLI, though the current models start at $18,995 and $26,345 respectively. We'll know more closer to their arrival in US dealerships, which VW says it expects in Q4 2021.