While most new cars try to innovate or bring some new tricks to market, the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta Highline does none of that. What it does offer is an entry point for consumers that are looking to dip their toes into German automotive ownership at a price that doesn’t break the bank. For 2022, Volkswagen has brought some small changes inside and out, as a mid-cycle refresh to their popular Jetta sedan.
The compact sedan segment may have lost options from the American big three, however it is more competitive than ever. Cars like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda3 are the best they have ever been both inside and out. With Volkswagen’s entry-level Golf gone from the North American market, the Jetta, underpinned by the same MQB platform, is the brand’s only compact offering left.
Exterior updates are not extensive but when you put the new Jetta side by side with the outgoing one, it becomes more apparent. Vertical fog lights can be found on a revised front bumper and grill. LED headlights and taillights are now standard. The only option selected on our tester is the King’s Red Metallic paint. The overall design is clean and mature, which is a fresh change from over-styled competition in the segment.
The interior is an area that the Jetta used to lead the segment in terms of material and build quality. Materials used today are a mixed bag, with more plastics apparent. The blank buttons surrounding the shift knob on our top trim level are disappointing. With all the technology now found in the Jetta, cost cuts needed to be made at the expense of interior materials. Our Highline does include heated front and rear seats, and passengers up front are also treated to ventilated bottoms.
Thankfully, the user interface for the infotainment system is a highlight. It’s simple to use and not as frustrating as the touch-based system found in the latest GTI and Golf R models. The updated steering wheel has skipped the haptic buttons found in the GLI. The eight-inch touchscreen is easy to use, though the menus and tabs in the native interface look a bit dated. Those using wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto won’t have issues, as it will require minimal engagement with the native system. The digital instrument cluster is a nice touch, and a rarity for the Jetta’s price point.
What hasn’t changed is the interior passenger space and cargo capacity which is quite spacious. There is more than enough leg and head room for four full sized adults to sit comfortably, and the Jetta is absolutely more usable and comfortable than its competitors for people-hauling. The Jetta’s 399-liters of trunk space outdoes the Corolla, but lags behind the new Civic’s 419-liter capacity.
The 2022 Jetta has replaced its 1.4-liter turbo-four with a new 1.5-liter engine, the same mill we’ve seen in the Taos. It results in a 10-horsepower bump for a total of 158 on tap, while torque remains the same at 184 lb-ft. There is some turbo lag off the line as expected, but the Jetta goes about its business smoothly and comfortably. The eight-speed automatic is a good match, and we appreciate it over rivals’ CVTs. Lower trim levels get a six-speed manual for those who want to row their own gears.
The ride is typical German. It feels composed and poised in a way that its Japanese and Korean competitors have yet to match. Since this is not to be confused with the sporty GLI, don’t expect to attack twisty roads with the same level of confidence, but the Jetta Highline’s suspension does soak up rough roads with ease and is perfect as a daily commuter.
As a daily driver, fuel efficiency is one of the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta’s strengths. The 50 litre fuel tank happily accepts regular gas and makes for a very happy wallet. Official ratings are 7.7L/100km city and 5.7L/100km highway, for a combined 6.8L/100km. Over the course of a week’s testing, we averaged 7.2L/100km, right within the ratings.
Volkswagen Canada prices the 2022 Jetta at $22,995 for the base Trendline model, while the top-trim Highline comes in at $29,895. The only option checked off on our test unit was the King’s Red paint, for an additional $295, bringing our as-tested sticker to $30,190. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta Highline continues to be a fantastic value proposition for those looking for an honest, reliable compact sedan. The comfortable ride and fuel efficiency are just icing on the cake.
First Drive: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta