Reviews

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium

More fun than a Prius, but not as well-rounded as the Jetta TDI.

Jetta shoppers seeking improved fuel economy suddenly have two very strong choices: hybrid or diesel. Most enthusiasts will probably default to the TDI diesel model, but the Hybrid is worth a serious look.

Suburban driving certainly favors the hybrid, which posts the same 42 mpg EPA city rating as the TDI does on the highway. The hybrid also manages to earn a better EPA rating on the highway, but the diesel feels more at home cruising at speed. The potential deal-breaker for enthusiast drivers is the hybrid’s sensation of squeezing a wet sponge whenever the brakes are applied. There’s also an inconsistent behavior when you release the brake at a stop, as sometimes the car will surge forward as the electric motor provides power and other times it will remain at a stop. Clearly the transition between the electric regen brakes and the mechanical brakes is not as it should be.

Although the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is tons more fun than a Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight or Toyota Prius, it’s just not as well calibrated as the cheaper and almost as efficient VW Jetta TDI. There’s also a proven track record for reliability with a Volkswagen diesel. Since VW is one of the first brands that come to mind when someone says “electrical problems,” I’d be hesitant to bring home a VW hybrid if I planned to keep it after the warranty ended.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor


As a mass-market automaker, Volkswagen had little choice but to offer a small hybrid sedan to compete with the Toyota Prius, even though the automaker’s strength lies in diesel powertrains.

And so we have the Jetta Hybrid, which has the most nominal changes in appearance to connote its difference from conventional Jetta models. There are a few blue-tinged hybrid badges scattered around its exterior. Inside, we have a familiar Jetta cabin but with a few minor tweaks. A start button is incongruously located ahead of the shift lever (it’s not even centered), so it looks like an afterthought, while the ignition interface on steering column is sealed off. Where the tachometer normally would be, we have a circular gauge with a battery charge/eco mode/boost readout. (I mention all this mainly because people who buy hybrids tend to like a little visual pizzazz that announces their purchase, and the Jetta is perhaps a little too subdued in this regard.)

That said, the Jetta Hybrid is a smooth operator, with plenty of power and all sorts of torque on tap. Some torque steer if you really gun it. At low speeds, the steering is ponderous and non-linear in feel and the brake pedal is touchy, as Phil Floraday describes. At speed, both of these issues recede.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor


2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium

MSRP (with destination): $31,975
PRICE AS TESTED: $32,010

ENGINE:
1.4-liter DOHC turbocharged I-4
Horsepower (hp): 150 @ 5000rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 184 @ 1600rpm

ELECTRIC MOTOR:
20kW electric motor
Horsepower (hp): 27
Torque (lb-ft): 114

NET SYSTEM POWER:
Horsepower (hp): 170 @ 5000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 184 @ 1000 rpm

TRANSMISSION:
7-speed dual-clutch automatic

DRIVE:
Front-wheel

WHEELS AND TIRES:
17-inch aluminum wheels
205/50R-17 93H Continental ContiProContacttires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
42/48/45mpg

CURB WEIGHT:
3312 lb

CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 11.3cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 41.2/38.1 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.2/37.1 in
Towing: N/A

EXTERIOR/INTERIOR COLOR:
Moonrock Silver/Beige

STANDARD FEATURES:
17-inch aluminum wheels
Bluetooth
Automatic dual-zone climate control
LED DRLs
Xenon headlights
Fog lights
Power sunroof
Navigation
Heated front seats and washer nozzles
Fender audio system
Rearview camera
Rear spoiler
LED taillights
Keyless entry and ignition
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Cruise control
60/30-split folding rear seats
Leatherette seats
SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription

OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
First aid kit- $35

KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Carpeted floor mats- $235

ADDITIONAL SPECS:
The Jetta Hybrid is new for 2013. VW’s marketing angle? “Sure it’s a hybrid. But it’s a turbo hybrid.”

COMPARE TO:
Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius

Comments

Buying Guide
Powered by Motortrend
2013 Volkswagen Jetta

2013 Volkswagen Jetta

MSRP $23,945 GLI (Manual) Sedan

EPA MPG:

23 City / 29 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Best Pick

Horse Power:

115 @ 5200