First Drive: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta

” With increasing demands for crossovers and electrification (though not mutually exclusive), it’s almost refreshing to see a perennial favourite get a freshening. Volkswagen’s Jetta has been one of our most strongly recommended compact sedans for quite some time now, and about halfway through this model’s cycle, it has been given some upgrades. We were invited to Niagara-on-the-Lake to sample the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta lineup and see for ourselves just what’s what.

Visually, the new Jetta gets new fasciae front and rear, new wheel designs, and paint options. It’s still a decent looking car, if not a little bit frumpy-looking, but remains one of the sharper contenders in its class. The Comfortline now gets an optional “Sport” package, which adds 17-inch wheels and black accents all around. As expected, the GLI gets sportier bits all around, and 18-inch wheels. The Jetta remains on the same MQB underpinnings as before.

Inside, the most obvious update is the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, the official name for the 10.25-inch electronic instrument cluster. It’s standard across all trims, including the base Trendline. All models but the Trendline get an 8.0-inch display featuring Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and one of the better native infotainment systems around. Base models get a 6.5-inch setup with fewer features. Thanks to its larger size, the Jetta also boasts better-than-average interior space for the segment, with ample headroom in the rear for taller passengers. It’s worth mentioning that on the GLI, physical buttons on the steering wheel are gone, replaced with touch-sensitive sliders for things like volume control.

A powertrain update puts a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood, replacing the outgoing 1.4-liter unit. The keen will observe that this is the same engine that powers the Taos subcompact crossover. Output here is 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque. It’s more than adequate for most compact sedan buyers, and the Jetta manages to feel livelier and more confident in a line than rivals like the Corolla and Elantra. The new engine is more than compliant, and eager off the line. Put your foot down off the line and the front wheels will let out a chirp as it gets going. Things smooth out as the Jetta approaches cruising speed, and highway passing power isn’t exactly the little sedan’s forte. ”

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