Volkswagen Jetta – Then and Now

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Despite growing larger, safer, becoming more environmentally friendly, and offering dramatically more creature comforts, the Jetta’s price has effectively declined by 25% since it was introduced.

The 1980 Jetta sedan in America replaced a car that Volkswagen had designed in 1938. The original Jetta was just 168 inches long, 63 inches wide and 52 inches high. Putting that into perspective, the original Jetta was smaller than the modern-day Toyota Yaris, one of America’s smallest sedans.

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The new Jetta is now 185 inches long, 71 inches wide and 57 inches high. That makes it a smidge larger than the modern Corolla. Interestingly, the original Jetta had a 13 cubic foot trunk and the 2019 gains just one cubic foot of space. However, passenger volume has grown from just 77 cubic feet to 94.

All new Jettas use a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. With fuel economy at 34 MPG Combined, the gas Jetta improved its fuel economy from 1984 to 2019 by 62%.

The 2019 gasoline-powered Jetta has a lower annual cost for fuel than the last Jetta diesel sold in 2015. Diesel owners of those cars pay about $100 more for fuel per year according to the EPA. Fun fact: The 1984 Jetta diesel had the same Combined fuel economy as the 2015 Jetta diesel. Zero mileage improvements. The new gasoline Jetta produces 262 grams of C02 per mile. That is 60% less than the 1980 Jetta and about nine percent less than the 2015 Jetta diesel.

The original Jetta offered a three-speed automatic transmission as an option. Today’s Jetta has an eight-speed automatic standard. A manual can be ordered for the 2019 model but just on the base Jetta trim. The original Jetta offered a cassette player. Perfect for your mixtape with Blondie’s Heart of Glass and Take a Chance On Me by ABBA.

Today’s Jetta has SatRad, Bluetooth, Android Auto (which you won’t find in any Lexus or BMW) Apple CarPlay and an optional 400 Watts of power.

The base price of the Jetta in 1980 was $7650. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to about $24,700 in today’s US dollar. Given that fact, the new 2019 base model Jetta is a steal at just $18,545. The boxy Golf with a trunk has matured into a roomy sedan with a lot to offer.

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John Goreham

John Goreham