I love it when an automaker makes my job easy. For 2019, which has actually been a stopgap model year for Volkswagen’s Passat before the current version gives way to the second-generation of this special…

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition Road Test

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
The Passat only comes in one well-equipped Wolfsburg Edition trim line for 2019. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I love it when an automaker makes my job easy. For 2019, which has actually been a stopgap model year for Volkswagen’s Passat before the current version gives way to the second-generation of this special North American-built car, it only comes in one fully loaded Wolfsburg Edition trim line, which certainly reduces my need for research. Now I can focus more on the fun stuff, like styling, interior design and quality, how comfortable it is, what it’s like to drive, and so on.

It’s been around since 1972 in some form or another, arriving to North American markets a year later. Named Passat in Europe since inception, the initial Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Audi-esque four-door fastback and wagon were dubbed Dasher here, and then Quantum for its similarly four-ring inspired second generation. The B3 finally took on the Passat nameplate, but as much as I liked that car, especially in 2.8-litre VR6 form, and the B4 that followed, the 270 horsepower 4.0-litre W8-motivated B5 with all-wheel drive was my personal favourite, and amongst the first Passats I got to know as a fledgling automotive scribe back in the early aughts.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
Despite its age, the Passat continues to offer a nice, elegant, minimalist design. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

That’s when VW rivalled Audi for performance and interior refinement, the unabashedly bold Phaeton luxury sedan showing up the following year with 335-horsepower V8 and 420-horsepower W12 powerplants plus $96,500 and $126,790 base prices respectively, and soon after that the 309-horsepower Touareg V10 TDI delivering a mind-blowing (for the time) 553 lb-ft of torque. Back then Volkswagen came closer to premium status than any other mainstream volume brand, and while today’s VW-badged vehicles still provide some upscale features not often offered amongst rivals, such as minimalist design, fabric-wrapped roof pillars (but only the A-pillars now), fully digital high-definition primary instrument clusters, and rear seat centre pass-throughs (or even better 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks), soft-touch surfaces are unfortunately less common, plus key switchgear is often hollow and cheap feeling, and chassis’ aren’t always fully independent (the new Jetta once again uses a torsion beam rear suspension, unlike the mostly IRS-equipped cars it competes against).

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
LED headlamps come standard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It certainly looks nice in this lovely Tourmaline Blue Metallic paint, one of six standard exterior colours available this year, including the usual white, black, grey and silver shades plus gorgeous Fortana Red Metallic, while the sportier R-Line exterior trim package comes standard this year, as do auto on/off LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, and a stylish set of silver-painted twin-five-spoke 19-inch Salvador alloy rims wrapped in 235/40 all-season tires, and that’s just what we can see on the outside.

It looks downright rich inside, thanks to my tester’s beautiful cream-like Cornsilk Beige cabin motif (the interior comes in black and grey too, depending on exterior colours), with the dash top, door uppers and carpets done out in black for contrast. The horizontally ribbed leather seats look completely high-end, while splashes of textured metal, brushed aluminum and chrome are tastefully applied, as is de rigueur piano black lacquered plastic surface treatments on the superbly crafted steering wheel’s spokes, on the centre stack surrounding the infotainment and HVAC interfaces (albeit the latter not quite as impressive due to loose, wiggly knobs), continuing down to the lower console, and glitzing up the rear seating area vent panel on the backside of the front console, which also houses a USB-A charge port and three-way rear outboard seat warming buttons.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
This fabulous looking set of 19-inch alloy wheels is standard too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Heatable rear seats and all of the high-end features already mentioned in a $32,995 mid-size sedan? That’s right, it’s a pretty decent deal made even better thanks to a $2,000 no-questions-asked discount right off the top, which is an end of the model year, goodbye, so-long, don’t let the door hit you on your way out kind of send-off to a model that’s served its purposes relatively well over the past nine or so years. You can learn all about this rebate and any other available savings by visiting CarCostCanada, and while you’re there make sure to read up on dealer invoice pricing that makes it easier than ever to get the best deal possible.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
This creamy Cornsilk Beige interior looks positively rich. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Additional standard features include proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters, a colour multi-information display with a trip computer, a leather-clad shift knob and handbrake lever, brushed stainless steel pedals, rain-sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a powered glass sunroof, front sport seats, three-way heatable front seats to go along with those in back, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar support, driver’s seat and side mirror memory, LED reading lights in the front and rear, an Easy Open trunk lid, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre armrest and pass-through down the middle, and much more.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
Some interior bits are extremely high in quality, and some are substandard. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A smallish albeit proximity-sensing (yes, a row of digital controls pops up when your hand gets near) 6.33-inch centre touchscreen provides quick response times and clean, simple, high-resolution (albeit unimaginative) graphics, plus the usual tap, swipe and pinch gesture controls that work ideally with the standard navigation system’s map, while additional infotainment features include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone integration, plus Bluetooth, voice control, an SD card slot, and a pretty poor rearview camera image with the top portion of the display actually cut off by what seems like an hallucinogenic psilocybin-induced semicircle that might be more distracting than helpful, plus there aren’t any dynamic guidelines let alone an overhead 360-degree view.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
A bit old school, but still attractive and effective. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Fender premium audio system was fairly good, and included six speakers and a subwoofer, plus satellite radio, a CD player, USB audio input/charging (but only one in this big car), and more. While the Passat’s infotainment system has most of the right ingredients, swapping my keys for a new 2020 GTI at the end of the week made its much larger touchscreen an obvious improvement, its incredible resolution, plus its superior depth of contrast and colour, having me looking forward to the new 2020 Passat’s system.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
A decent infotainment system, but poorly fitted HVAC knobs. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A lid at the base of the centre stack lifts to expose a rubber tray for storing your personal device, but it wasn’t large enough for my average-sized smartphone, so I suppose I was happy no wireless charging pad was connected to it either. Instead, the aforementioned USB and an aux port sit beside a 12-volt charger, while the row of switches next to the shift lever just behind included a button for front and rear parking sensors and another for the semi-autonomous self parking system, plus four dummy buttons that made me feel like this particular model was missing a lot of equipment. For instance, there was no heated steering wheel, a shame considering how impressive the flat-bottom leather-wrapped rim and its array of high-quality switchgear was, plus the leather front seats weren’t ventilated.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
This is a very comfortable set of seats that look fabulous. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Then again, the Passat’s list of standard safety features is impressive, with autonomous emergency braking, blindspot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, driver assistance, park distance control and park assist leaving little to be desired, but it’s the way all of these systems worked that I liked more. Sometimes advanced driver assistive systems can be overly sensitive, engaging too early or misreading a given situation and then reacting when they shouldn’t, all of which could potentially cause a driver to turn them off, but after hardly noticing they were there during my weeklong drive, the Passat’s lane keeping assist system kept me locked next to the white lane when I tried veering off the highway without my turn signal on. While a bit annoying, I immediately became grateful that the system only came into play when needed, and it worked very well. 

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
The rear seating area is spacious and comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I noted earlier that Volkswagen’s interior materials quality isn’t quite as good as it used to be, but I’d best explain this in detail with respect to this Passat. It’s mostly on par with key rivals, although from a brand that previously was way above average when it comes to soft-touch padded surface treatments and other refinements, it’s now below average. This said the quality of pliable composites used on the dash top and door uppers is above par, but before sounding too positive, the lower dash and glove box lid, the sides of the centre stack, and the lower door panels are a lower than average grade of hard plastic. And there’s the rub. Some areas are finished so well that the Passat’s in a class of one, yet other details seem more suited to an entry-level subcompact.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
Three-way seat warmers n back are always welcome. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The powertrain poses an equal dichotomy, in that it measures up to most competitors’ base engines, yet finds itself stuffed into the bay of a near-premium offering. It makes sense that VW chose the car’s more fuel-efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder as its sole offering instead of last year’s optional 3.6-litre V6, being that the latter engine wasn’t a popular upgrade, but in a market segment that often provides engine options with well over 200 horsepower the Passat’s 174 ponies and 184 lb-ft of torque aren’t exactly going to excite the masses, on paper at least.

In reality, all that torque arrives at just 1,500 rpm, so it feels a lot sportier off the line than the numbers suggest. The front wheels are fed power through a tried and tested six-speed automatic transmission, with the aforementioned paddle-shifters providing plenty of hands-on engagement, important because the mid-size four-door manages fast-paced curves a bit better than most family sedans. A fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup with stabilizer bars at both ends makes sure it grips tarmac decisively, but despite better than average handling its ride is still plenty compliant, providing a bit more firmness than most Japanese, Korean and domestic mid-size sedans, but never unpleasantly rough or jarring.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
The large trunk makes the Passat very easy to live with. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

All this and it gets reasonably good fuel economy at 9.3 L/100km in the city, 6.5 on the highway and 8.1 combined, another reason VW opted for the four instead of the six. Add to this a near comprehensive four-year or 80,000 km warranty, and the Passat starts looking like a very intelligent buy.

Practical issues in mind, the Passat’s front seating area is sizeable enough for large occupants, and the driver’s seat is comfortable albeit slightly firmer than average. It gets fore and aft two-way lumbar support that just happened to meet the small of my back perfectly, while the lower cushion reached far enough forward to almost completely cup under my knees. Rear seat roominess is even more generous and dutifully comfortable in the outboard positions, while the trunk is larger than average at 450 litres (15.9 cubic feet), plus its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are made even more agreeable to passengers and long cargo by including the aforementioned pass-through right down the centre. This could be a dealmaker for skiers preferring to keep their boards securely locked inside when not strapped onto their boots.

2019 Volkswagen Passat Wolfsburg Edition
A centre pass-through? Where do we sign? (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

As for whether the 2019 Passat Wolfsburg Edition’s many attributes cause it to be a dealmaker for you or not, you’ll never know unless you try one on for size. The fact so few are on the road compared to Camrys, Accords and literally every other mainstream mid-size sedan currently available (Volkswagen sold just 570 Passats YTD as of Q3 2019, compared to 11,579 Camrys and 9,089 Accords, with the only car in the class selling fewer units being VW’s own Arteon with just 288 deliveries so far this year), will set you completely apart from the crowd as you’re arriving in style, and some may even mistake it for something premium, like an Audi. I begrudgingly continue to like it, not because it’s particularly better than anything else, but more so because I’m a sucker for European-badged exclusivity and contrarily root for the underdog more often than not.

Here’s hoping the new 2020 Passat improves on this outgoing model’s weaknesses while keeping its many attributes, so it can truly be hoisted above all others the way its predecessors could. This said if VW chose cut corners in order to bring pricing down, and by so doing didn’t make the upcoming redesign more refined and premium-like inside than this passing generation, the Passat will unfortunately continue on as an also-ran, garnering very little interest and eventually disappearing from our continent. That would be a shame.

Strange, but only a year after this smart little Golf Alltrack crossover wagon came to market, Volkswagen changed things up for 2018. The Alltrack before you is a 2019, a mostly carryover model that didn’t…

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
Volkswagen made a number of changes to the Golf Alltrack’s styling last year, but they were subtle to say the least. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Strange, but only a year after this smart little Golf Alltrack crossover wagon came to market, Volkswagen changed things up for 2018. The Alltrack before you is a 2019, a mostly carryover model that didn’t look updated to my eyes at all until I started comparing the photos I took earlier this week against a 2017 model I reviewed toward the end of that year. 

Most noticeable are the LED signatures within the halogen or LED headlamps, depending on trim, plus the redesigned LED taillights, but VW says it modified the front and rear bumpers too, although I can’t tell the difference. Even the front and rear fascia trim looks identical, not to mention all the detailing down the sides. 

The colour is different from the car I reviewed in 2017, this Peacock Green Metallic version looking comparatively subdued next to my previous tester’s bright Tornado Red, while the 2017 car’s Titan Black innards have been swapped out for Shetland beige. 

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack is a good looking crossover wagon, especially in Execline trim that adds larger wheels. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Golf Alltrack’s interior received upgrades from model year 2017 to 2018 as well, including a six-speed manual gearbox for those who enjoy shifting for themselves, or alternatively paddle-shifters with the optional six-speed automatic, while the most dramatic addition was a new state-of-the-art 8.0-inch centre touchscreen replacing the old outdated looking 6.5-inch unit. The new system incorporates the expected (and mandated) backup camera with the unexpected omission of dynamic guidelines, plus Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink smartphone integration, and plenty of interfaces for the standard six-speaker audio system with satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, voice recognition, additional apps, car systems, and more. It even uses proximity-sensing technology to expose digital buttons when your hand gets near. 

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
VW added new halogen and LED headlights (shown) last year. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Other standard features include 4Motion all-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels on 205/55 all-season tires, automatic headlights with coming and leaving functions, fog lamps, silver finished side mirror caps, silver roof rails, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton start/stop, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather-clad shift knob and handbrake lever, simulated carbon fibre decorative inlays, brushed stainless steel foot pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control, a USB port, three-way heatable and two-way powered front seats (they’re eight-way manually adjustable), leatherette upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ambient lighting, LED reading lamps, illuminated vanity mirrors, a large powered panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade made from an opaque fabric, a scrolling rear cargo cover, 12- and 115-volt charging outlets in the cargo area, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre pass-through, and the list goes on and on. 

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
VW upgraded the centre touchscreen to 8.0 inches last year too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The base Highline model starts at just $31,200 with the manual or $1,400 more for the automatic (check out CarCostCanada for the latest prices on trims, packages and individual options, plus manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands), while the car in our garage this week has been upgraded to Execline trim, which starts at $35,270, and features standard 18-inch alloys on 225/40 all-seasons, LED headlights with active cornering lamps, paddle shifters with the automatic transmission, navigation with detailed mapping, an SD card slot, a Fender audio system with a subwoofer, front sport seats, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, and leather upholstery. 

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
Execline trim includes standard navigation. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

VW also included the only optional upgrade, a $1,750 Driver Assistance Plus package that adds autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blindspot detection with rear cross-traffic assist, lane assist, automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, plus park assist with park distance control. 

The Alltrack is mechanically identical to previous model years, sporting Volkswagen’s well-proven turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is VW’s dual-clutch automated gearbox, and the all-wheel drive system doesn’t offer any low gearing or even a locking diff, so it’s suited more for rain, snow and light-duty off-road. Transport Canada estimated fuel economy numbers are 11.1 L/100km in the city, 7.8 on the highway and 9.6 combined for the manual, and 10.7, 8.0 and 9.4 respectively for the automatic. 

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
This massive powered panoramic sunroof comes standard across the line. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The suspension is Volkswagen’s usual front strut and rear multi-link design, but not all cars in the compact class offer the latter so it’s a bonus for sure, while the shocks are exclusive to the Alltrack due to its one-inch ride-height lift over its Golf SportWagen donor car. The power steering is speed-sensitive to improve feel, while the vented front and solid rear brake discs measure 286 and 272 mm respectively. 

The big difference with the Alltrack or the just-noted SportWagen when compared to regular Golf hatchbacks is cargo space, with the two elongated models getting 368 additional litres (13.0 cubic feet) of volume behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 362 (12.8) more when they’re folded flat, the larger car’s cargo capacity measuring 861 and 1,883 litres (30.4 and 66.5 cu ft) respectively. The Alltrack even gets an extra 14 kilos (31 lbs) of additional payload capacity to go along with the added space, resulting in a 459 kg (1,012 lbs) maximum. 

Of course, I’ll talk about how livable, refined and enjoyable (or not) everything is in my upcoming road test review, so stay tuned…

In case you were hoping the new seventh-generation 2019 Jetta would be doing direct battle with the $16,790 base Honda Civic, the identically priced Toyota Corolla, the $15,999 Hyundai Elantra, or any…

Volkswagen to price 2019 Jetta at $20,995

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
VW has completely redesigned its compact Jetta for 2019, and it certainly is more eye-catching. (Photo: Volkswagen)

In case you were hoping the new seventh-generation 2019 Jetta would be doing direct battle with the $16,790 base Honda Civic, the identically priced Toyota Corolla, the $15,999 Hyundai Elantra, or any other sub-$17k compact sedan, think again. In fact, it won’t even undercut the $19,995 Subaru Impreza that comes standard with all-wheel drive. Instead, Volkswagen’s second-most affordable car will enter the Canadian market at $20,995, which represents a significant $4,600 bump up from the outgoing 2017 Jetta.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The rear design is more conservative, although its clean, uncluttered lines should age well. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Of course, for that money you can expect more standard features than the older car as well as its peers. For starters the new 2019 Jetta won’t be available in base Trendline trim, so say goodbye to 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. Instead, all 2019 Jettas will receive alloy wheels starting at 16 inches, as well as auto on/off LED headlights with a coming and leaving home function, plus LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, an electromechanical parking brake, a multifunction trip computer, cruise control, a proximity-sensing infotainment display measuring 6.5 inches in base trim, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity with audio streaming, an SD card slot, a USB input, four-speaker audio, a static backup camera, a front centre armrest with a storage tray, heated front seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, tire pressure monitoring, all the usual active and passive safety features, and more.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
VW provides a larger panoramic sunroof starting in mid-grade Highline trim. (Photo: Volkswagen)

As impressive as some of its base features are, some of the 2019 Jetta’s less expensive competitors are now coming standard with auto on/off LED headlights too, plus similarly large infotainment displays with backup cameras, etcetera, while even more impressive, some competitors are now being shipped with standard advanced driver assistance systems that cost extra with the Jetta. For instance, all Corolla trims include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with automatic steering assist, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights with automatic high beams.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Power remains reasonably strong at 147-hp and an optional 8-speed auto is impressive, but its torsion-beam rear suspension means the Jetta will likely lag behind key rivals with respect to handling, especially Honda’s Civic. (Photo: Volkswagen)

While these features will be optional on the mid-range Jetta Highline, as will blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert that’s also available with most rivals, VW will step up its safety offering with a new class-exclusive automatic post-collision braking system designed to automatically apply the brakes after an impact, which would stop the vehicle even if the driver were incapacitated.

While much is new some things stay the same, starting with the Jetta’s sole 1.4-litre turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder engine. It puts out three fewer horsepower resulting in 147 instead of 150, plus an identical 184 lb-ft of torque, while it once again drives the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual gearbox, which no doubt to the delight of performance fans everywhere continues to be offered in all trim levels.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Standard LED headlamps mean that VW joins others in the class that now offer such premium-like details as standard equipment. (Photo: Volkswagen)

The available Tiptronic automatic transmission remains a very reasonable $1,400 option yet sports two more forward speeds for a total of eight, while it also boasts a new auto start/stop system that temporarily shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling to save fuel and reduce emissions. The new Jetta will also come standard with an Eco mode to reduce fuel consumption even further, but unlike the outgoing Jetta no engine upgrade option is yet available.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Standard LED taillights is nothing new in the compact segment, yet VW delivers sharp looking Audi-like lenses. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Better news has the 2019 Jetta riding on Volkswagen’s more advanced Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform architecture, which currently underpins the award-winning Golf. This said the latest Jetta won’t be on the receiving end of the MQB platform’s most-lauded component, its fully independent rear suspension that unfortunately makes way for a cheaper torsion-beam setup. This may change for a future Jetta GLI, however, so VeeDub’s legions of performance fans will want to keep their collective fingers crossed, but then again Volkswagen has already lost many of these one-time loyalists to Civic Nation which has long offered an independent rear suspension in its least expensive base trim, let alone the mighty Civic Si and Type R variants. Hyundai offers an independent rear suspension in the Elantra Sport as well, as do some others in this class.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta offers some impressive digital displays in its upper trim range, including a configurable gauge cluster in the Execline and 8.0-inch touchscreen with Highline trim and above. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Just the same, the majority of Canada’s compact sedan buyers will find the new Jetta’s 32-millimetre (1.3-inch) longer wheelbase, now spanning 2,685 mm (105.7 inches), greater width, taller roofline and resultant increased interior room more appealing, while its shorter front and rear overhangs, combined with a more gradually sloping four-door coupe-like rear pillar, provide a sportier visual profile.

Still, while the new Jetta’s design is slightly sleeker and somewhat more shapely than the car it replaces, featuring a larger, bolder grille that integrates nicely into LED headlamps, its stately lines lean more toward the current model’s conservatism than the initial design sketches’ (see the gallery) low-slung drama, which puts it on a safe route that should help it appeal to the auto market’s large base of low-key consumers, while enjoying a longer shelf life than something more radical otherwise would, which may earn it a stronger resale value too.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
This Jetta Execline appears to produce a virtual light show at night. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Along with more space inside, Volkswagen promises a more upscale, premium-like passenger compartment, at least up front. More soft-touch synthetic surfaces will provide improved refinement, while the overall interior design has been modernized with the infotainment display more prominently mounted higher up on the instrument panel’s centre stack for easier access with less distraction away from the road ahead. What’s more, the top-tier Execline model includes a fully configurable colour TFT gauge cluster dubbed Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, similar to the Audi Virtual Cockpit.

Upper trims in mind, the mid-range Highline model starts at $24,095 and features standard proximity access, pushbutton ignition, a larger 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, voice recognition, two additional audio speakers for a total of six, satellite radio, a larger powered panoramic sunroof, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, standard with Execline trim, sets new standards in the mainstream compact segment. (Photo: Volkswagen)

As noted earlier, Highline trim allows the addition of an optional $995 Driver Assistance Package with auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keeping assist. Also available with Highline trim, the $1,700 R-Line Package adds 17-inch alloys, fog lamps with integrated cornering lights, special R-Line exterior design details including glossy black painted exterior mirrors, plus R-Line badging, remote start (with the automatic transmission only), 10-colour ambient cabin lighting, a black headliner, an R-Line steering wheel, a sport suspension, and Volkswagen’s Cross Differential System (XDS) that applies braking to the inside front wheel in mid-turn to enhance cornering capability.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
As usual, the new Jetta’s seats look above par, and the general layout of the cabin is attractive while appearing well made. (Photo: Volkswagen)

The top-tier Jetta Execline, which starts at $27,695, makes the XDS system, 17-inch alloys, and ambient interior lighting standard, while upgrading the headlights to lens-type full LEDs featuring unique LED signature daytime running lights, chromed window surrounds, side mirrors with integrated turn signals and memory, the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a leather-wrapped steering wheel rim and shift knob, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar and memory, front seat ventilation, perforated leather upholstery, a 400-watt eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system, and more. The Jetta Execline is also available with the Driver Assistance Package.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The new 2019 Jetta looks like a solid step forward, but its low-rent suspension could turn off diehard VW fans, and its lack of standard advanced safety gear belies its lofty base price. (Photo: Volkswagen)

Today’s outgoing Jetta has been steadily losing sales since its highpoint of 31,042 units in 2014, its 2017 sales of 17,483 units showing a decline of 43.7 percent over four years and a year-over-year downturn of 16.5 percent since 2016 alone. This is partially due to greater consumer interest in compact SUVs like Volkswagen’s Tiguan, but it can’t be overlooked that the aforementioned Civic and Corolla have gained market share over the same duration, as has the Kia Forte and Volkswagen’s own Golf.

Volkswagen is banking on this redesigned 2019 Jetta finding similar upward momentum to that stylish Golf, and likewise it’s hoping to pull from the Jetta’s 600,000-plus previous Canadian owners to achieve that. Still, with much higher than average base pricing, a deficit in standard advanced safety technology, and a low-rent rear suspension design it’s going to be an uphill battle.

As the Jetta nears the end of its lifecycle the special editions begin to surface, but we’re not complaining, as these have long been some of the more appealing models in the line. Today we review the…

2017 Volkswagen Jetta Wolfsburg Edition Road Test

Having grown up in the sixties and seventies it's difficult not to like Volkswagen's retrospective editions, and while looking in the proverbial rearview mirror normally has us focusing on VW's Beetle line of compacts, in this case I'm talking about the four-door compact Jetta. Specifically the 2017 Wolfsburg Edition, in Bottle Green with a black, grey and orange interior.

The Bottle Green paint, which is new for 2017, is probably the design element that's most respectful of the past, as this rather normal looking three-box four-door can only be considered retro due to being mostly unchanged for so long, but peek through its windows and you'll start to understand more of what I'm talking about.

Orange is often used to pull memories toward the late '60s and '70s, currently by watch brands like Omega with its absolutely gorgeous 2014 Speedmaster Mark II reissue (a near exact homage to its 1969 namesake), Rolex with its uncharacteristically playful Milgauss (in this case Read Full Story
Wagons are rarities these days, but within Volkswagen’s unique brand culture they’re a staple they’d never consider abandoning. Central in servicing a dedicated and enthusiastic clientele, the Golf…

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline Road Test

All the excitement in Volkswagen's Golf SportWagen family has recently been focused on the new AllTrack, a model I personally applied plenty of praise to earlier this year, but last year's redesign of the AllTrack's more traditional five-door sibling deserves some well earned attention too.

After a comprehensive ground-up makeover for 2016 the Golf SportWagen moved into 2017 mostly unchanged, except for some minor package updates, which is fine by me as it was near ideal already. It's lighter now thanks to VW's new MQB platform architecture that also underpins a wide range of models from subcompacts like the Polo, unfortunately not available here, to larger SUVs including the new mid-size Atlas, while its interior gets all of the premium upgrades enjoyed by other new Golf models.

This said the Golf SportWagen has always been a near-premium product, but it's hard not to appreciate the redesigned model's more sophisticated instrument panel, the impressive leatherwork and Read Full Story