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Trims and Powertrain

Sedan fans interested in the front-wheel-drive 2023 Jetta can choose from four trims: S, Sport, SE, and SEL. They all have a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood; it makes 158 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The Jetta stands out in that a six-speed manual remains the standard transmission (on the S and Sport), pleasing old-school drivers who appreciate the chance to control the gear shifts. An eight-speed automatic is optional for those two trims and standard on the SE and SEL.

The EPA has estimated the fuel economy for a 2023 Jetta with the manual transmission at 29 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway. The Jetta S with the automatic is rated for 31 city/41 highway, while the other Jetta trims with the automatic achieve 29 city/40 highway.


Not many base trims in this class get automatic LED headlights, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors, and front pedestrian monitoring, but the 2023 Jetta is an exception. It also has an 8-inch digital gauge cluster (Digital Cockpit), a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, and 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a USB-C port, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming. Besides the aforementioned front pedestrian monitor, the active safety technology suite contains blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert; forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are optional.


The Sport gets a few stylistic enhancements: black exterior accents, an integrated grille light bar, unique bumpers, stainless steel pedals, and a black headliner. The front seats are sport style, while the rear seat is upgraded with a center armrest and pass-through. As far as driver-assist tech, forward collision/automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control remain optional.


Get ready for a host of upgrades with the SE. While it lacks the Sport’s stylistic flourishes, those previously optional safety features become standard along with remote start, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, synthetic-leather upholstery, and a USB-C charge port. It also comes with some additional safety features: Travel Assist (which combines adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist) and driver attention monitoring (Emergency Assist).


The high-end SEL delivers even more luxury and style. It returns the bolder bumpers and grille light bar seen on the Sport and adds a sunroof, a 10.25-inch configurable digital gauge cluster (Digital Cockpit Pro), and a wireless phone charger. The seating situation goes swanky with real leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, and driver’s seat position memory. This top trim also receives heated washer nozzles, side mirrors with position memory and passenger-side reverse gear tilt-down, projector-type LED headlights, automatic high beams, ambient interior lighting, and a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The SEL moves up to an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with voice recognition, navigation, HD radio, satellite radio (SiriusXM), wireless smartphone connect, and a sound system by BeatsAudio.


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