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2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan Photo

2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan - Review

 

2012
logo OVERALL RATING 7
out of 10

The latest Volkswagen Jetta didn't do much to appeal to enthusiasts in its first model year, but with 2012, the VW Jetta gets its GLI back--and that model earns a rating of 7 here at MotorAuthority.

The GLI succeeds many past models that took Jetta basics and transformed them with better tires, quicker steering, and a more sporty interior. The 2012 goes a step further, even, by adding a completely different rear suspension than the one found on base cars, and a soft-touch dash, too.

The basics: Volkswagen's Jetta grew significantly last year, to help the brand reach more American buyers. It also gained a less expensive interior and a torsion-beam rear suspension, cost-cutting moves that helped VW bring in a sub-$16,000 Jetta for the first time in years. The recipe's worked so far, with Jetta sales up more than 50 percent on the year.

While aficionados complained about the not-quite VW handling and interior, engineers were already putting the finishing touches on the GLI. They started with a rorty turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a well-known entity in the VW world, with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The engine's coupled to a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) transmissions, both fine units. We prefer the paddle-shifted DSG, but with either, the turbo's flat torque band and grunty vocals give an urgency to the GLI that's completely missing from the base four-cylinder, five-cylinder, and diesel Jettas. VW claims a 0-60 mph time of less than 8.0 seconds, and with the DSG, quotes EPA gas mileage at 23/29 mpg.

The GLI's handling is a cut above the base Jetta as well. The torsion-beam rear end of other models is swapped out for a multi-link rear end that's also found in the new VW Beetle Turbo. The GLI also has tighter spring and shock values, and rides 15 mm lower than other versions--plus, it has XDS, an electronically simulated limited-slip differential for the front wheels that helps keep wheelspin to a minimum. All the changes work fairly brilliantly: the GLI turns in crisply thanks to its electric power steering, with a tolerable level of feedback. The ride quality's better than just about everything in the class, and the GLI hangs in for wide sweepers and tight corners better than most other compacts, save maybe for the latest Ford Focus. It's a pretty agile piece, with just a whiff of torque steer making its way down to 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels and tires.

The GLI doesn't look radically different from the conservative Jetta. It does get a distinctive grille, a front spoiler, fog lamps like those on the GTI, and red brake calipers. Inside the dash wears a soft cap of rubberized plastic that relieves the dollar-store feel of the base Jetta; it also has sporty red-stitched bucket seats that have lots of bolstering but not too much firmness, and a flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching.

The Jetta's a Top Safety Pick according to the IIHS.

Base prices start at less than $24,000 for the GLI with power features, a USB port and Bluetooth. An Autobahn trim package settles in just over $26,000, and adds a sunroof, leatherette seats, a Fender audio system and dual-zone climate control. Another $1000 nets navigation and pushbutton start.

For more information on the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta lineup, including specifications, photos and related news, visit TheCarConnection's full review of the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta.

Specs: Select a Trim

4-Door Automatic (1) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
Base Specs $16,615 $15,950 24 29
4-Door Automatic S (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic S Specs $17,745 $17,035 24 29
w/Sunroof Specs $18,895 $18,139 24 29
4-Door Automatic SE (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic SE Specs $19,825 $19,033 24 32
PZEV Specs $19,825 $19,033 24 32
4-Door Automatic SE w/Convenience (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic SE w/Convenience Specs $21,175 $20,328 24 32
PZEV Specs $21,175 $20,328 24 32
4-Door Automatic SE w/Convenience & Sunroof (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic SE w/Convenience & Sunroof Specs $22,515 $21,614 24 32
PZEV Specs $22,515 $21,614 24 32
4-Door Automatic SEL (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic SEL Specs N/A N/A N/A N/A
PZEV Specs N/A N/A N/A N/A
4-Door Automatic SEL w/Premium (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Automatic SEL w/Premium Specs $24,805 $23,813 24 32
PZEV Specs $24,805 $23,813 24 32
4-Door DSG TDI (1) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door DSG TDI Specs $23,875 $22,921 30 42
4-Door DSG TDI w/Premium (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door DSG TDI w/Premium Specs $25,315 $24,303 30 42
& Nav Specs $26,445 $25,387 30 42
4-Door Manual (1) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
Base Specs $15,515 $14,894 24 33
4-Door Manual S (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual S Specs $16,645 $15,979 24 33
w/Sunroof Specs $17,795 $17,083 24 33
4-Door Manual SE (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual SE Specs $18,725 $17,977 23 33
PZEV Specs $18,725 $17,977 23 33
4-Door Manual SE w/Convenience (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual SE w/Convenience Specs $20,075 $19,273 23 33
PZEV Specs $20,075 $19,273 23 33
4-Door Manual SE w/Convenience & Sunroof (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual SE w/Convenience & Sunroof Specs $21,415 $20,558 23 33
PZEV Specs $21,415 $20,558 23 33
4-Door Manual SEL (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual SEL Specs N/A N/A N/A N/A
PZEV Specs N/A N/A N/A N/A
4-Door Manual TDI (1) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual TDI Specs $22,775 $21,864 30 42
4-Door Manual TDI w/Premium (2) MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy
4-Door Manual TDI w/Premium Specs $24,215 $23,247 30 42
& Nav Specs $25,345 $24,331 30 42
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