Sometimes you just got to take the high road and make the decision to rent a car for that long weekend road trip to keep the miles off your reliable, but aging, cars. We’ve had to do this a few times…I say “had to” but it’s a decision, not a necessity.
The scary part is not knowing exactly what you’re gonna get (insert famous movie line). This is a big reason to always be nice to the people you deal with and the businesses you patronize. For our most recent trip, the counter girl offered a Nissan Versa. Nothing wrong with that except I have a real issue with CVTs (continuously variable transmission). So I kindly begged for something other than the small Nissan and she graciously offered a Volkswagen Jetta.
We drove a previous generation Jetta quite a few years ago and remember loving the way it drove and how comfortable it was.
This generation is even better.
The Jetta I drove was comfortable, with good power and better handling than previous gens, let alone a lot of cars out there in the Jetta’s class. It was rock-solid on the highway and took corners well.
Engine-wise, our car had the new 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four cylinder that replaces the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I4 from the 2015 model. For a base engine it was peppy and our mileage numbers were phenomenal! Peak horsepower and torque for the 1.4T is 150 and 184 respectively and we got a high of 40 miles per gallon on one leg of our journey and mid to high 30s the rest of the time. The six-speed automatic was spot on and we never felt like it was hunting for gears like some other high gear count transmissions seem to do.
Since it was last redesigned for the 2015 model year, the 2016 Jetta we drove was still fresh and sleek, with angled and angry-looking headlights split by a large VW crest in the grill. Out back is the familiar multifaceted VW brake lights separated, again, by a large VW crest. With character lines running down the sides from front to back bookended by fully integrated front and rear bumpers, Jetta eschews class and elegance in the form of a solid family sedan.
The interior is Euro-comfy with well-bolstered seats, a clean and usable center stack and a busy yet very readable instrument cluster. Those seats, though! Cloth seats with heating! It’s a small thing but more car makers should make this happen!
The center stack features some new awesomeness: a 6.3-inch touchscreen with VW’s Car-Net App-Connect that supports all three available connected car systems: Apple CarPlay®, Google Android Auto™ and MirrorLink® as well as supporting a rear-view camera. That camera got really wet and almost unusable during a heavy rain. Maybe some Rain-X would have helped.
Android Auto was difficult to get going. Everything seemed ready to go but there was just no connection between the phone and the car. After a couple of Google searches, we changed the USB cable it worked very nicely. The integration is awesome and this solution makes so much sense as your phone technology advances much faster than can car technology. The big drawback we found with Android Auto, or Apple Car I assume as well, is that the USB port on our car did not have enough power to charge the phone we were using (Samsung Galaxy S6) while using Android Auto. We kept getting a low charge current error on the phone when connecting. The battery showed charging but the phone was losing charge slowly rather than adding charge. Not a good thing if you like the service but you’ve let your battery run down. The solution we found was to start with a fully charged phone. That seemed to negate the issue for some reason.
One other odd thing was the steering wheel shape. It was mostly like a triangle, with the point running around the wheel so that it faces the driver. It hit my carpal tunnel area, making it a little uncomfortable to hold for longer than a few minutes, let alone an eight-hour drive.
One last thing to praise is the large trunk. There was ample room for the three bags we took on the trip, leaving plenty of space for all the goodies one collects when traveling.
Expect low- to mid-twenties for a decently optioned model. Or, just look for the VW lease sales events and pick one up on the cheap!
Thanks for reading!
…See You Down The Road!