Honestly, other than being rare compared to Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, Hyundai Elantras and Mazda3s, and therefore something different to take notice of, the new Jetta never really caused me to do…

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition Road Test

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The Jetta GLI 35th Edition, exclusive to the 2019 model year, is one sharp looking sport sedan.

Honestly, other than being rare compared to Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, Hyundai Elantras and Mazda3s, and therefore something different to take notice of, the new Jetta never really caused me to do a double take. It’s attractive in an inoffensive way, the new grille a bit more daring than the previous model’s horizontal slats, but compared to the initial artist’s renderings that came out ahead of the real deal in 2017, and photos that followed, it comes across a bit watered down in the metal. The new Jetta GLI, however, is a different story. In fact, I find this car quite attractive, and I’m willing to guess it might even pull eyeballs toward less expensive trims.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
GLI styling truly improves the conservatively styled Jetta’s overall look.

As with all GLI models thus far, the Jetta’s chrome exterior detailing has been blacked out and splashes of red added across the grille and uniquely around the outer edges of the wheels that frame big red brake calipers, plus of course the discreet GLI badges front and back, while now it now gets a set of thin, blade-like garnishes on each front fender that also feature a “35” designation as part of this 35th anniversary edition. Those otherwise grey-painted twinned-five-spoke 18-inch wheels were shod in 225/45 Hankook Kinergy GT all-season tires, not the even sportier 19s found on a Golf R, but they were still sticky enough when pushed hard.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
LED headlamps are standard on all GLI trims.

Before delving into performance, other notable GLI trim pieces include a strip of glossy black edging along the top portion of the grille, plus more shiny black detailing around the lower fascia’s corner vent bezels, overtop the mirror caps, on the front portion of the roof as well as the rear third section, connecting the larger sunroof panel in the middle so it all looked like one clean sheet of dark glass, and lastly for the tastefully discreet rear deck lid spoiler. It’s a really attractive car from front to back, and more importantly for me, the type of compact sport model that a mature driver doesn’t feel out of place driving.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
All the red GLI details are the stuff of sport compact legend.

Inside, nicely bolstered, inherently comfortable perforated leather seats with red stitching and nicely patterned inserts simultaneously look sporty and luxurious, and therefore exactly what Volkswagen fans should expect, while the steering wheel is performance perfection. It features a slightly flat bottom and ideally shaped thumb spats, plus red baseball-style stitching around the inside of the leather-wrapped rim. Volkswagen continues the car’s red performance theme with more red thread on the leather shifter boot, the centre armrest, the “GLI” portion of the “GLI 35” seat tags, plus the same logo on the embroidered floor mats and stainless steel treadplates.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The GLI 35 Edition’s 18-inch alloys are particularly handsome.

Of course, there’s plenty of satin-silver aluminum around the cabin too, the aforementioned steering wheel featuring more than its share, foot pedals aside, plus plenty on the centre stack and lower console as well. Some faux carbon-fibre trim and inky piano black surfacing adorns the dash and upper door panels, the former completely soft to the touch thanks to a premium-level rubberized composite along the entire top and ahead of the front passenger, with the latter finished similarly to the front door uppers, as are the door inserts and armrests.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
These front fender garnishes really spiff up the GLI 35’s exterior design.

All of this sounds great, but I’m going to guess most eyes will be pulled more quickly towards the fully digital gauge cluster, which boasts an Audi-like Virtual Cockpit design dubbed Digital Cockpit in VW-speak. Like in the pricier German brand’s cars, the GLI’s Digital Cockpit features a “VIEW” button on the steering wheel that turns the gauge package into a multi-function display, even capable of placing the centre-mounted infotainment system’s navigation map directly in front of the driver where it’s most needed. It can do the same with most functions, making it one of the most impressive electronic features available in the mainstream volume-branded sector.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The roof looks all glass, but it’s painted gloss-black front and back.

The just-noted centre display is a large eight-inch touchscreen featuring premium-like high-definition resolution, plus brilliant graphics with rich colours and contrasts, and like the gauge cluster it comes loaded with functions like tablet-style tap, pinch and swipe features, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Mirror Link for integrating your smartphone, audio, navigation, app, driving mode and fuel-saving eco interfaces, plus a performance driving component with a lap timer and more.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
Sharp looking LED taillights complete the rear design.

I was surprised, however, that active guidelines weren’t included as part of the rear parking monitor, especially in this top-tier trim, and my tester even included the $995 ($1,005 for 2020) optional Advanced Driver Assistive Systems (ADAS) package featuring a multi-function camera with a distance sensor. This bundle also includes Light Assist automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, Front Assist autonomous emergency braking, Side Assist blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and the Lane Assist lane keeping system.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
Dual chrome-tipped exhaust bookend a black rear diffuser.

Just below is a three-dial dual-zone automatic climate control interface that looks good, is easy to use and functions well, plus along with three-way heatable front seats that can be controlled from this panel as well, are three-way ventilated cushions for making summer months more bearable. Just one powered and infotainment-connected USB-A port hangs above a rubber-based wireless device charger, which is big enough for the largest of smartphones, all of which tucks in behind the gearlever and its U-shaped collection of switches, including an electromechanical parking brake, buttons for turning off the traction control and auto stop/start system, plus a driving mode selector that lets you choose between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Custom settings.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The Jetta GLI cabin is a mix of Mamma Mia and meh.

Just above, a sunglass holder sits in the overhead console, the latter also housing switchgear to open the large powered moonroof that includes an attractive opaque fabric sunscreen with an aluminum front section that looks especially upscale.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The cockpit is the GLI interior’s best asset.

This said the GLI, which at $32,445 for the manual-shift model or $33,845 for this DSG-equipped version, doesn’t exactly come cheap, so much is expected as far as fit, finish, materials quality and general refinement goes, but if you were to spend some time in any Golf GTI, for instance, and then decide you needed a trunk instead of a hatch to mitigate security risks, per se, you just might be disappointed. To be clear, the entry-level Golf GTI starts at $30,845, which is $850 less than the $31,695 base Jetta GLI, but the Mexican-built hatch pulls the fabric-wrapped A pillars already standard in less expensive Golfs up to the sportier variant, unlike the any Jetta, which are built alongside the Golf at VW’s Puebla, Mexico assembly plant as well, while all the plastic below the waist, and some of the chest-height surfaces are pretty basic hard composites.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
Much like with Audi, the GLI’s digital gauge cluster allows the multi-info display to take over the entire screen.

Yes, I know the Jetta is a compact model, but now that competitors from Japan and Korea are delivering much higher materials quality, particularly top-line versions of the new Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and even Kia’s Forte that I drove just before this GLI, and factoring in that VW used to offer the most premium-like cabins in the mainstream volume-branded sector, this Jetta GLI was a bit of letdown. The new Forte comes in a sporty GT trim now, by the way, which competes directly with this GLI, yet unlike its rival from VW, the Kia’s inside rear door panels are finished with the same high-quality soft-touch detailing as those up front, while the German brand didn’t even bother including a padded insert at all, and instead formed its door panel solely from hard plastic, making its rear compartment one of the least appealing to look at or touch in this class or any.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The 8-inch infotainment touchscreen includes some performance apps.

Heatable outboard seats were a nice feature, but the interface surrounding the buttons used to turn them on was as low-rent as you’re likely to see in this segment. The seats themselves were nice, thanks to the same red-stitched perforated leather as those up front, and nicely carved out bucket-style outer positions that should hold rear passengers in place during spirited driving. A fairly large flip-down rear armrest gets a pair of cupholders integrated within (or is that a trio?), but unlike previous Jettas there’s no centre pass-through for stowing skis or other long cargo. Instead, when needing to expand on the dedicated cargo area’s already generous 510 litres, the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks will force one of the rear passengers into the less comfortable centre position. This is mostly par for the course in this class, however, it’s just that VW stood out before, and still does when opting for a Golf.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The dual-zone auto HVAC interface is VW’s usual good design.

Volkswagen more than makes up for such shortcomings with the GLI’s on-road experience, however, this sport sedan being one of, if not the most engaging entry within its mainstream volume compact four-door segment. The 228 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo-four puts out plenty of torque at 258 lb-ft (up 18 hp and 51 lb-ft of torque over its predecessor), resulting in some difficulty keeping the front wheels from spinning during spirited takeoff (if it was only available, VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive would help in this respect), while the new seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox feels even quicker through the paddle-actuated gears than the old six-speed DSG, albeit with the added benefit of a taller final gear for improved fuel economy (9.3 L/100km city, 7.2 highway and 8.4 combined for the as-tested auto or 9.6, 7.3 and 8.5 respectively for the manual) and (theoretically) a higher top speed.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
Now that’s one massive phone charging pad.

Ripping off zero to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds it’s one quick Jetta, while Sport mode really adds to the experience. It’s nothing like the Golf R or equivalent super sport compacts such as Subie’s WRX STI or (RIP) Mitsu’s EVO, but it respectably puts otherwise sporty alternatives like Mazda’s 3 GT to shame in a straight line, and even makes the once-mighty Civic Si seem as if it’s dawdling off the line. Wheel slip during takeoff aside, the Jetta GLI proved unflappable through high-speed corners, even when broken tarmac threatened to upset the rear end, but thanks to a fully independent suspension with a multilink setup in the rear, a move up from the regular Jetta’s comparatively remedial torsion-beam rear suspension. Instead, the inside rear suspension absorbed the jarring pothole and ensuing thump with ease, allowing the tire’s sizeable contact patch to maintain full traction and hook up as I exited the corner. Try that in a regular Jetta and things might get very out of shape, not to mention the Mazda3 I noter earlier (although I must say the Japanese compact manages such situations surprisingly well and combines AWD with its own G-Vectoring Plus to make up for some of its torsion-beam shortcomings).

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The new 7-speed DSG is superbly quick shifting and very smooth.

This said, back more pedestrian speeds (or rather while stopped during parking manoeuvres), I experienced something that’s never happened to me before. When I came to a stop to park the auto start/stop system automatically cut off the engine, which is not unusual in itself, but when I quickly decided to reverse so as not to be park too close to the car in front of me the engine wouldn’t restart when in reverse. I had to shift it back into “P” and then dab the throttle in order to reignite the engine, at which point I could shift back into reverse to back up. Very strange. It worked perfectly through the rest of the week, mind you, as did the entire car.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The GLI 35’s comfortable leather-clad seats are wonderfully supportive.

The aforementioned $32,445 (manual) and $33,845 (DSG) base prices meant the 2019 GLI 35 is nicely equipped, with features not yet mentioned including fog lights, LED headlamps, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a formidable eight-speaker BeatsAudio system with a sub, a powered driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar and three-position memory, plus more. This feature set and all previously noted equipment remains intact for 2020, by the way, so therefore those that find a new 2019 are basically buying the same car for less.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The rear seats are great and outboard seat heaters nice, but the cheap hard plastic door panels don’t measure up.

This in mind, take note that VW Canada is offering up to $3,000 in additional incentives on 2019 models that were still available at the time of writing, while the new 2020 GLI, which as just-noted is unchanged other than for the loss of this 35th Edition (for obvious reasons), can be had with up to $1,000 in additional incentives, although average CarCostCanada (where the following information was found) member savings were $2,500 for the 2020. Check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 and 2019 Volkswagen Jetta Canada Prices pages to learn about available manufacturer rebates, leasing and financing specials, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you even more, plus make sure download the free CarCostCanada app from the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes store.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Edition
The trunk is generously proportioned at 510 litres.

Although the latest Jetta doesn’t exactly light my fire in lesser trims, this new Jetta GLI is a step ahead in many respects, particularly when it comes to styling, straight-line performance and interior electronics. I’d like to see VW improve some of the materials used inside for a more refined cabin, but this probably won’t bother you too much while driving anyway, unless you’re trying to impress someone riding in back. Then again, at least your father-in-law will appreciate the comfort of the GLI’s independent rear suspension, excellent seats and decent legroom while he’s complaining about all the cheap plastic.

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo Editing: Karen Tuggay

News flash! Volkswagen has a lot of 2019s still available, including the fabulous Golf Alltrack. Okay, I let the cat out of the proverbial bag and now without having to read any further you know how I…

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline Road Test

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
After only three years the Golf Alltrack has been discontinued, so check out our story and snap one up if you like it as much as we do.

News flash! Volkswagen has a lot of 2019s still available, including the fabulous Golf Alltrack.

Okay, I let the cat out of the proverbial bag and now without having to read any further you know how I feel about this impressive little crossover wagon. This said you may also now realize how disappointed I am that it was discontinued last year, with the remaining 2019s all that’s left of new inventory.

In case you’re wondering how much you can currently save on this fashionable European, CarCostCanada is reporting up to $1,500 in additional incentives, but I’m guessing you can get more off than that. Sign up for a CarCostCanada membership and you can access the 2019 Golf Alltrack’s dealer invoice price, so when you call the dealership or go online to negotiate (I wouldn’t recommend showing up at the dealership right now), you’ll know exactly how much they paid VW for it, plus you’ll know about any manufacturer rebates and financing/lease rates currently available. I seriously don’t understand why someone would consider buying a new car without first arming themselves with this treasure trove of knowledge.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack includes a lot of premium-level aluminum trim for a stylish look.

The Golf Alltrack is a car I’d consider owning, because it suits my personal taste and lifestyle to a tee. I find it great looking, even more so than the Golf SportWagen it’s based upon, which is also cancelled for 2020, the Alltrack’s raised height and tastefully beefy body cladding working perfectly with its long, chiseled fuselage, while all of its aluminum-like detailing, including the side mirror caps, make it look downright rich.

Like with all Golf models, the Alltrack’s most impressive attribute is its interior. Premium-like details abound, such as fabric-wrapped A-pillars, a soft-touch dash top that extends down to the midpoint of the instrument panel, the same pliable composite used for the front door uppers, an impeccably detailed leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel with fabulously thin spokes filled with high-quality switchgear, cool grey carbon fibre-style dash and door inlays, glossy piano black surfacing in key areas, and a tasteful assortment of satin-finish aluminum accents throughout.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Golf Alltrack is ideal for mild off-road excursions.

The Alltrack’s monochromatic multi-information display (MID), which sits between the otherwise highly-legible primary instrument cluster, wasn’t up to standards when I last tested this car in 2017 and still isn’t. This is particularly true from a manufacturer that offers a wholly impressive full digital display in some of its other models, while most of its compact rivals provide high-resolution full-colour TFT MIDs loaded with features.

On the positive, my as-tested top-tier Alltrack Execline’s infotainment system was superb, this model and the base Highline trim replacing the old outdated 6.5-inch centre touchscreen with a state-of-the-art 8.0-inch display this year, once again filled with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone integration, and a nice clear backup camera (albeit without active guidelines), while exclusive to the Execline is nicely detailed navigation mapping with very accurate GPS guidance. Additional infotainment features include voice recognition, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, the latter controlled via an easy-to-use audio interface connecting through to a standard six-speaker audio system with satellite radio in the base Highline trim, albeit a much more expressive nine-speaker Fender system in the Execline, while additional digital panels provide access to apps, car system functions, etcetera. The display even uses proximity-sensing technology that pops hidden digital buttons up from its base when your fingers get near.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack’s details are very nice, and include LED headlights and 18-inch alloys in Execline trim.

Now that I’ve mentioned changes from the previous 2017 model I tested and this 2019, I should also give you a bit of history and fill you in on some additional updates made along the way. The Golf Alltrack actually came into existence for the 2017 model year, and surprisingly was updated for 2018 with new LED signature lights inside its base halogen and optional LED headlamps (depending on trim), redesigned LED taillights with their own signature look, plus other subtle changes to the front and rear fascias.

This 2019 model carried over everything from 2018, including the updated transmission choices that now consist of a base six-speed manual (VW’s six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with manual mode was standard initially) as well as paddle-shifters for the now optional six-speed DSG auto in Execline trim, so therefore it’s now more engaging to drive in most trims (the Highline DSG forgoes the paddles).

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
These silver-tone mirror caps add a touch of class.

The 2018 model received two new colours as well, growing from seven in 2017 to nine the following year, all of which are available in both trim levels for 2019. The test model featured on this page wears one of those new colours, Peacock Green Metallic, while White Silver Metallic will likely be the more popular choice considering most everyone’s love affair with white and VW’s traditional allegiance to its Germanic silver heritage racing livery. Inside, no-cost optional Shetland beige offsets the green nicely, while Titan Black is standard.

To clarify, the previously single-trimmed model now has two trims, Highline and Execline, the former starting at $31,200 (plus freight and fees) with its manual or $1,400 more for the DSG automatic, while my tester’s Execline trim can be had for $35,270 with the manual or $36,670 as-tested, less the aforementioned incentives and any other discounts you can negotiate after learning about its dealer invoice price from CarCostCanada.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
Like all Golf models, the Alltrack provides a very refined interior.

The Execline includes one-inch larger 18-inch alloys on 225/40 all-seasons as standard equipment, plus standard LED headlights with active cornering, paddle shifters with the automatic transmission, navigation, an SD card slot, the aforementioned Fender audio system with a subwoofer (which produces great sound for the class), front sport seats, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar (that’s superb, by the way, with excellent side bolstering), and leather upholstery.

VW also added its only optional upgrade with my tester, a $1,750 Driver Assistance Plus package that includes 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.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
All Golf models have a well organized cockpit.

Features pulled up to Execline trim from the base Highline include standard 4Motion all-wheel drive, automatic on/off 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, power windows, the aforementioned 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 front seats, a two-way powered front passenger seat (it’s eight-way manually adjustable), 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, although considering its mid-‘30k price point a heated steering and heated rear seats would be nice.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack’s gauge cluster is highly legible yet a bit dated, its multi-information display monochromatic and low on features in a world of colourful, comprehensive MIDs.

Mechanically, the Alltrack is identical to previous model years, utilizing Volkswagen’s well-proven turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that’s good for 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. It provides strong, smooth, linear power resulting in reasonably quick takeoff and good highway passing power for this fairly light, relatively compact car, and while the all-wheel drive system doesn’t offer a low gearing range or even a locking differential, it’s excellent on rain-soaked roads, packed snow, and can even manage some lighter duty off-road situations.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack’s new 8.0-inch infotainment display is superb.

Transport Canada rates the Alltrack’s fuel economy at 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, so it’s pretty good as far as compact crossover utilities go.

The entire car rides on Volkswagen’s usual front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup, which means that its ride is very good and handling even better, this even despite a one-inch higher centre of gravity over its Golf SportWagen donor car. The ride-height lift comes from exclusive springs and shocks, while the power steering is speed-sensitive to improve feel, and it’s nicely weighted with good response and reasonably good connectivity to the road, unusual for this class, while the vented front and solid rear brake discs provide good stopping power thanks to 286 and 272 mm diameters respectively.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack Execline’s leather-clad sport bucket are wonderfully comfortable and supportive.

All of these attributes could be applied to the regular Golf hatchback too, but the big difference with the Alltrack or its just-noted SportWagen sibling when compared to shorter wheelbase VW alternatives 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 cu ft) 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.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The power panoramic sunroof is a fabulous addition.

Just like the regular Golf, the rear centre pass-through provides useful storage for longer cargo such as skis, allowing two rear passengers to enjoy the more comfortable window seats. I also like that Volkswagen includes levers on the side of the cargo walls for dropping the seats, and they fully fold down automatically. Another positive is the quality of the cargo cover, which is by far the best in this class. It’s a solid chunk of metal mated to high quality plastic the clicks into place like a precision instrument, and it weighs a fair bit when pulling it out too.

Volkswagen includes a shallow area under the load floor along with a space saver spare tire. There’s no powered rear hatch to make access easier when hands are full, but it was never an issue during my weeklong test. The roof rack on top is also useful too, providing you get the necessary add-ons to make the most of it. And speaking of loads, the Alltrack receives 14 additional kilograms (31 lbs) of payload capacity to go along with the added space over the regular Golf, resulting in a 459-kg (1,012-lb) maximum.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The rear seating area is spacious and comfortable.

In case you’re wondering how it stacks up against VW’s Tiguan, the Golf Alltrack is just 73 litres (2.6 cu ft) smaller behind its rear row and actually 23 litres (0.8 litres) roomier when its rear seatbacks are laid flat, so it’s a good compact SUV alternative if you’d rather be closer to the ground to experience more traditional road car handling.

On that note I prefer driving this Golf Alltrack when compared to the new Tiguan, and find its interior more refined as well, but of course I’m well aware my personal taste doesn’t always flow in the mainstream, something made obvious by this model being discontinued while the Tiguan is becoming VW’s shining star.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Execline
The Alltrack’s cargo capacity is about the same as a compact SUV like VW’s own Tiguan.

Tiguan sales were up 42.7 percent in calendar year 2018 to 21,449 units in Canada, but its upward surge still wasn’t enough to upstage the Golf that beat it by 28 deliveries. This said Volkswagen needs six different Golf models to achieve that number, including the regular Golf hatchback, Golf GTI, Golf R, e-Golf, Golf SportWagen, and this Golf Alltrack. Last year saw the Tiguan lose 10.2 percent to 19,250 units from its previous high, while the Golf only lost 8.4 percent to 19,668 units in 2019. Now with the Golf Alltrack and SportWagen gone from the lineup, the Tiguan has an opportunity to overtake the Golf, although the current realities of COVID-19 mean that 2020 will be far from a banner year.

Just the same, if the Golf Alltrack sounds like your idea of the perfect car/SUV compromise, I recommend first doing some research at CarCostCanada for any manufacturer rebates, financing/leasing deals, and of course dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, and then contacting your dealer via phone or online. Most retailers are providing home road tests of fully sanitized cars these days, so as long as you’ve prepared ahead of time, you’ll get the best deal possible. As for the Golf Alltrack, I’m quite certain you’ll love it.

Photos by 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…

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.