2020 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium

Superb compact
December 12, 2020 Updated: December 12, 2020

Generally speaking, when you think of a compact car, you think of one that is small and uncomfortable.

Volkswagen Jetta dispels that with comfort in a cabin space for four people, yet it continues with a pedigree of great gas mileage (30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway for a combined 34 mpg average).

VW offers numerous trims for the Jetta: S, SE, R-Line, SEL, SEL Premium, GLI, and Autobahn. The SEL Premium will be my focus.

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The back of Jetta SEL. (Courtesy of Volkswgen)

The Jetta SEL is powered by a 1.4-liter turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, coupled to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

Fuel efficiency is improved through an engine auto stop-start system, and driving comfort is ensured with electro-mechanical steering with variable assistance.

Many compacts may just offer cloth upholstery, but this VW trim offers a heated, leatherette-wrapped 3-spoke multi-functional steering wheel and leather seating surfaces.

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Jetta SEL leather interior. (Courtesy of Volkswgen)

The 10-color customizable ambient lighting and front foot well lights keep everything well visible, especially Jetta’s interior good looks. There are even front reading lights, plus illuminated vanity mirrors and overhead storage compartments for additional enrichment.

It is easy to settle behind the tilting and telescopic, thick-rimmed steering wheel. The heated and ventilated driver’s seat is 6-way power adjustable with lumbar support and position memory.

The Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control features a series of knobs and buttons arranged so they are easy to reach and use. I would like to have seen them located just a little higher up. The rear seat folds down in a 60/40 split design, adding to Jetta’s versatility. There is 14.1 cubic feet of storage in the trunk.

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Infotainment and nav system with 8-inch touchscreen. (Courtesy of Volkswgen)

The SEL and SEL Premium models enjoy some extra perks on the tech front. I enjoyed the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, since digital instrument panel made for easy reading. It was complemented by the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, which features AM/FM/HD Radio, CD player, USB ports, Voice Control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, BeatsAudio premium sound system with subwoofer, and App-Connect smartphone integration.

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Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument cluster. (Courtesy of Volkswgen)

The navigation map was not up to date. I drove through some beautiful neighborhoods with houses five years old or older and there were no streets indicated or street names to be viewed on the map.

Outside, Jetta sits on 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, accompanied by LED automatic headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights. Jetta looked good at night with the great lighting making for a safer drive, especially with Halogen front fog lights.

Should you choose to allow a little sun light or even moon light, the power tilting and sliding sunroof is always available.

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Power sunroof. (Courtesy of Volkswgen)

The 2020 Jetta is filled with convenient technology. The SEL Premium trim is fortified with safety features including Rearview Camera, Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Light Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert.

I liked the quick and precise steering. The suspension is good even when tackling speed-bumps or uneven roadways. The stereo has good quality, and there is only minor road noise.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $28,865 for the SEL Premium.

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or durhlcaussey@gmail.com.