Volkswagen has gained plenty of momentum during the last several years by rolling out a procession of now SUVs, from the little Taos to the big Atlas, but unlike some competitors, the German automaker isn’t giving up on the passenger car market.
And so, for 2022, VW is updating two of its most important sedan offerings, the Jetta and the GLI. The two models receive styling and technology updates, while the base sedan also gets an updated powertrain that delivers a nearly 8% increase in horsepower.
“It definitely comes down to value,” said Rachel Whitwell, the compact car product specialist for Volkswagen of America. “The people who are buying compact sedans are still looking for a very affordably priced vehicle that offers good space … (low) cost of ownership and value,” she added during a media backgrounder ahead of today’s unveiling.
Jetta and GLI actually start out with the same underpinnings, much as VW does with the Golf and GTI lines. Jetta targets buyers on a tighter budget. But it gets some additions this year that could make it seem more refined, according to Whitwell.
More power for Jetta
That starts with the engine upgrade. The old, 147-hp inline-4 is replaced by a 1.5-liter package now shared with the Taos crossover. It uses a variable geometry turbine, coated cylinder liners and other enhancements to boost power to 158 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque.
And while final EPA numbers have not been calculated, the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta is expected to improve over the sedan’s current fuel economy, which reaches as much as 30 mpg city, 41 highway, said product planning chief Hein Schafer.
The 2022 GLI retains its 2.0-liter turbo engine producing 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. The sedan is offered with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The new Jetta engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic.
Both new models receive modest exterior updates for 2022. That starts with new grilles and revised front and rear bumpers.
“On the GLI,” noted VW in a release, “its characteristic red accent strip sits between the bars, and the lower front fascia features the legacy honeycomb detail. LED headlights and daytime running lights (DRLs) are standard, with top trim Jetta models and GLI having projector LEDs.
Both cars get cabin updates, as well. Contrast stitching — red on the GLI — is now standard. So is VW’s Digital Cockpit, with an 8-inch gauge cluster on the Jetta, and 10 inches on the GLI. The steering wheel buttons on the sportier model also switch to capacitive touch for 2022. There’s plenty of other technology, including center touchscreen infotainment systems, and optional in-car WiFi.
Advanced driver assistance systems such as Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert are now standard on Jetta, and the upgraded IQ.DRIVE driver assistance technologies are available as options on Jetta, while they come standard on GLI.
A tough market
Pricing hasn’t been released yet but, considering the shrinking market for sedans, it’s expected to hew close to the current numbers when the 2022 VW Jetta and GLI models reach showrooms during the fourth quarter of this year. The Jetta currently starts at $18,995 — before delivery fees and other charges. The GLI carries a base MSRP of $26,345.
VW still offers a broad range of sedans and hatchbacks, but it will drop the base Golf models for 2022, recognizing the realities of an SUV-crazed market. Passenger cars make up only 22% of the brand’s current U.S. sales and it’s “a tough one to estimate” whether that will drop even further, said Schafer. But VW is hoping that the Jetta and GLI updates will help it retain a reasonable share in the compact sedan market.