Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Test Drive: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid - Great Looks, Great MPG

The 2013 Jetta Hybrid took me almost 160 miles on a quarter tank of gas or about 3 gallons which, projected out, is over 600 miles or better than 50 miles to the gallon on a single tank with a mix of street and highway driving. That's impressive, especially when the advertised combined mpg is 45. The Jetta hybrid braking may have been the only small difference but didn't take much getting used to. The Jetta hybrid is a greener alternative to the diesel version and also a way Volkswagen, with its lofty sales goals, can appeal to the hybrid crowd. On the diesel comparison, I had just started my week long test drive in the Jetta Hybrid when a father and son pulled up next to me their Passat TDI bragging about its 45 mpg and the fact it was manufactured in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Same manufacturer with another economical powerplant option so why argue. The trunk space was also more spacious than one would expect with two engines.

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is powered by a peppy 1.4 liter turbocharged direct-injection TSI four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 27 horsepower eletric motor that produces and combined output of 170 horsepower. The 7 speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission was impressively smooth and can be operated as a pure automatic in “D” mode or shifted manually and there's an "S' sport mode as well.  The “ePower meter” includes the level of battery charge and the available amount of electric driving.

The Jetta Hybrid starts at $24,995 for entry-level model with Bluetooth connectivity, Climatronic dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, and a six-speaker audio system. The Jetta Hybrid SE at $26,990 adds LED taillights, keyless access with push-button start, Premium VIII touchscreen audio system with color energy flow display in the center console and Media-Device Interface with iPod® cable and SiriusXM® Satellite Radio. The Jetta Hybrid SEL at 29,325 has all the SE trim and adds 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a power tilt and slide sunroof, the RNS315 touchscreen navigation system and heated seats with power adjustment on the driver’s side. The Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium at $31,180 adds Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED DRLs and the Active Front-Lighting System, foglights with cornering lights, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a rearview camera, and the Fender Premium Audio System.

The driving experience is very similar to a conventional Jetta but the “E-Mode” which keeps the Jetta in electric mode until the battery is depleted certainly helped me achieve the impressive 50+ mpg.

Bottom Line: Jetta is the most popular VW model based on sales (39 percent of VW first half 2013 U.S. sales) so a hybrid version for exceptional fuel economy is a win-win for hybrid buyers seeking a conventional ride with environmental benefits.

Volkswagen provided the vehicle for evaluation purposes.