Volkswagen Jetta vs Competitors

VW Jetta vs Honda Civic Sedan


The Volkswagen Jetta and the Honda Civic Sedan are popular rivals in the compact four-door segment, with similar standard equipment packages yet some noteworthy differences. The Jetta, which comes in at a base MSRP that’s $705 less than the Civic’s, has some unique features that aren’t even offered by Honda. The VW also packs in more standard luxuries in the higher trim levels and is the only car in its class to offer ambient interior lighting in a palette of ten changeable colors. The Civic comes in multiple body styles and other model variants, but we’ll just look at the ’19 Civic Sedan for comparison purposes here.


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Standard Equipment

Both the Jetta and the Civic come in five trim levels, with a manual transmission still offered at the base level of both (the Civic offers a stickshift in its second trim level, the Sport). The automatic transmission upgrade is a continuously variable transmission on the Civic and an eight-speed automatic on the Jetta. It’s a simple matter of preference as to which of those a driver prefers, but many folks feel that feel disappointed by the lower get-up-and-go factor involved with CVTs. But there’s just something about that German engineering, and – of course – only the fun-to-drive Jetta can claim that. Its four-cylinder turbocharged engine is zippy and quick, with excellent fuel economy that beats out the Civic’s numbers. The Jetta is EPA rated for 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, easily beating the Civic’s base mpg of 25 city and 36 highway. Plus, the Jetta’s gas tank is nearly a full gallon larger, meaning fewer service-station stops. Both sedans offer a rear-view camera for safer backing.

Bells and Whistles

The comparisons really get interesting at the top trim levels. While both cars include heated rear outboard seats on their loaded trim, the Jetta is especially posh, since the top-level SEL Premium includes ventilated front seats, which are not offered on any level of the ’19 Civic Sedan. The impressive VW Digital Cockpit is standard on the top two Jetta trims; it presents customizable vehicle and trip information on a stunning 10-inch-wide high-resolution screen. Also unique to the Jetta is the interior ambient lighting, which can be programmed in your choice of ten colors to create a fun atmosphere in the cabin. You’re not going to find that feature in any Honda.

Bells and Whistles

The Jetta scores an easy win when it comes to warranty: Volkswagen offers twice as long a term as Honda. The People’s Warranty covers six years and 72,000 miles, as opposed to the Civic’s three years and 36,000 miles.



Rivals in the compact sedan segment, the Volkswagen Jetta and the Chevrolet Cruze. Of course, only one offers the fun accessory of interior ambient lighting in 10 programmable colors and – even better – legendary German engineering that creates a more dynamic driving experience. Both of these affordable cars come in five trim levels with different standard equipment packages. We’ll compare the lowest and highest pairs, among other qualities, below.


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Comparing the Base and Top-Trim Models

With a base MSRP only $745 above the Cruze’s, the Jetta also provides so much more standard equipment. (The Cruze Hatchback, on the other hand, starts at $19,620, which is $875 more than the Jetta’s base.) The lowest-level Jetta also offers something that many driving purists still desire: the opportunity to get a manual transmission, which is not offered at all on the Cruze.

Here are some highlights of the amenities that the least expensive Jetta trim offers that the least expensive Cruze trim does not: compatibility for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, height-adjustable seat belts, post-collision braking, active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics, and an electric parking brake.

Performance and Safety

While the base engine in the Cruze makes slightly more horsepower (153 hp to the Jetta’s 147), the Jetta produces more torque (177 lb.-ft. versus the Cruze’s 153), resulting in a more powerful ride. They both offer Wi-Fi hotspot capability, a touchscreen infotainment system, and comfortable seating for five (with a tad more headroom and legroom in the Jetta’s back seat).

For only $450, buyers of the base VW Jetta can add the Driver Assistance Package of active safety technology, which includes forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist), a blind spot monitor, and heated side mirrors. These features aren’t even made available on the Cruze until the mid- to high trim levels.

At the top trim level, the Jetta boasts more luxuries than the Cruze, including ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, a power tilt/slide panoramic moonroof, and heated windshield wiper nozzles. The beautiful VW Digital Cockpit is standard on the two highest VW Jetta trims; it shows vehicle and trip information on a high-res 10-inch-wide screen that’s angled just enough toward the driver to achieve optimal ergonomics.

Warranty Coverage

With double the warranty coverage that Chevrolet gives, the Jetta squashes its competitor in that category: The People’s Warranty from Volkswagen covers six years and 72,000 miles, while the Cruze is only covered for 3 years and 36,000 miles.