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The 2019 VW Jetta is an accessible car with accessible technology

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Face it, you’re going to drive one at some point

2019 VW Jetta
Volkswagen

On first mention, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta may not sound like it’s worthy of making much of a splash. Yet Volkswagen used the 2018 Detroit Auto Show to launch a new version of the Jetta, its bread-and-butter sedan in the US. While the company promises a whole new range of EVs (some of which are retro-inspired), its compact sedan is still in charge of keeping the lights on for the automaker’s US arm.

Still, it’s tough to get too emotional over the exterior. While the 2019 Jetta certainly has more flair than the deeply plain outgoing model, it retains a conservative profile that is unlikely to offend anyone. There is more chrome and more LED lighting accents on the outside than ever before, although the Jetta still straddles something between mainstream and premium.

The new Jetta finally adopts the MQB architecture that underpins pretty much the rest of VW’s models. That also means the Jetta can now be had with the Digital Cockpit that already showed up on models such as the Atlas, Tiguan, and Golf. Configurable gauges dress up what’s already a much-improved interior and vanquishes the old car’s reputation for cheap interior plastics and outdated tech.

Power for the new Jetta still comes from a 1.4-liter gasoline-powered turbocharged four-cylinder engine, this time making 147 horsepower. Cars equipped with the new 8-speed automatic transmission also get automatic start / stop for the first time, but there’s little that’s revolutionary in the engine department. (There’s no word on the return of the Jetta Hybrid.) At least the 1.4-liter turbo managed around 40 mpg in the old car and should net something similar in the new model.

The 2019 Jetta goes on sale this spring, with a price starting from $18,545, less than the previous base model, VW officials said. To get the tech, though, you’ll likely have to spring for the higher-end SEL and SEL Premium models that are probably going to land in the $25,000 ballpark. Still, that could be enough to satisfy those who want an Audi or BMW, but can’t get there until their next work promotion (or two).