Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Let's face it. We're spoiled. Most compact cars optioned the way most people buy them are packed with what would have been luxury features a decade ago. And that leads to price tags cracking 30 grand.
If your idea of a compact car is something that seats five, has reasonable power, better-than-average fuel economy and a price tag this side of $25,000, you really should be looking at the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T R-Line.
The incredible thing about the Jetta is that you're not getting a cheap car in terms of materials or fit and finish---and it's no stripper model either.
Power for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T R-Line comes from a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. 147 horsepower is not a lot these days. And 7.6 seconds zero to 60 doesn't sound very quick, but it actually is better than most compact sedans. And the fuel economy is a big payoff---30 city/40 highway.
But the numbers you'll really like come on the price tag. The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T R-Line's base price is $22,695. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, halogen fog lights, a power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and a four-speaker audio system that sounds way better than you'd expect a standard system to. Best of all, it comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. If you can't drive stick, no judgements here---just learn. It's not that hard---half an afternoon with a patient friend or relative who knows how. An automatic is optional, but shifting yourself is fun and the VW manual is light yet precise.
The only extra-cost option on our tester was the R-Line Cold Weather Package (heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, heated front wiper area on lower part of windshield, heated windshield wiper nozzles and a washer fluid level indicator) for $500.
That's it. That gorgeous Tornado Red paint, the good-looking alloy wheels, the leather-wrapped steering wheel? All standard. So with $920 destination charge, the as-tested price for the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T R-Line comes to $24,115.
All the basics and quite a lot more for just a shade over $24,000 is a screaming deal. Who says affordable cars are dead?