Holy crap I learned a lot about how to basic.
The 2013 Jetta S, VW’s answer to the question, does basic transportation still exist. The short answer is yes.
Please note: This review is a product of my recent car search. I actually wasn’t bribed for this review by any auto manufacturer. All opinions are my own. This review is so basic, I forgot to take photos. So I am using a few VW stock photos and a dealer listing for a nearly identical car.
This review follows my unprofessional, extremely biased superb auto review scoring system which goes as follows:
0 – I hate it
1 – I don’t like it
2 – It’s ok, I guess
3 – I like it
4 – This is excellent
This review has 13 categories and thus can have a maximum score of 52 points. Let’s begin…
I decided to poke around at this 2013 Jetta because it was on the same lot as a 2013 Genesis they had for 15k (it was a smoker, so no deal). During my car search, my dad requested that I look at some vehicles in the ~10k price range in case so if the finances did not work out, I at least had an idea of what that range was like. This dealer was filled with inexpensive basic cars and provided me the perfect opportunity to test them out.
First some general details about the car:
Engine: 2.0L naturally aspirated I4
Transmission: 6-speed auto with manual shift option
Enviornment: Urban, Interstate and commercial roads
Just remember: It is the inside that counts.
I have always liked the exterior of these German sedans. They are nice, tame, but also elegant. The lines are simple and well thought out. Yes, it is bland and not exciting, but they are still visually appealing.
As featured in one of my favorite car videos, it has an inside. Nothing fancy, cloth seats basic wheel, plastic everywhere. Switches and dials were the same as you would get in a higher trim so no corners cut there, except many of them were blank. It did sort of feel like the inside of a Play School playhouse, but it is cheap transportation.
Well shit me sideways, this car could not get out of the way of a melting Antarctic glacier. Holy crap! The merge onto the highway really told the tale. It is roughly a quarter mile between the entrance of the highway and the next exit. I had my foot to the floor for that entire quarter mile and shifting manually. By the time I got to the end I was going about 63mph. It was the worst acceleration I have ever experienced in a car. This is mainly attributed the the godawful 2.0 4 banger blender under the hood.
The brakes on this car are shared amongst most of the trims. As such they are normal brakes that work as they should, it’s the German way.
The car rode fairly nice. Now I know this is a basic trim so the suspension components are not the best, but for normal everyday driving it rode well. Would I be able to go a long distance in the car, yes, and I most likely will be in the same shape upon arrival as I was when I left. If you were to run into some serious bumps, prepare your butt cheeks because you will feel them.
To its credit, the Jetta handled pretty well. The steering was responsive, and the cars lightness enabled you to fling it around corners if you wish.
There is nothing like driving a slow car fast. Even though this car has an awful engine in it, the transmission is actually quite good. The auto mode shifts smooth and the manual is responsive to your inputs and doesn’t try to take over until you are well above its limits. It was kind of nice and unfortunate at the same time that it was paired with such an anemic engine.
It’s a basic car so you are not expecting many luxuries, but there is one feature that is a deal breaker in any car if it lacks it – cruise control. That’s right this Jetta did not have cruise control, and as someone who routinely drives multiple hours on the highway, cruise control is a necessity. I should probably mention that the radio is super basic and there are not many other features that are worth highlighting. No cruise control already puts this at a 0. At least they remembered A/C.
Sound (Engine): 2
What engine? To be fair though, it makes a valiant loud attempt to go fast. 0-60 in 5 minutes never sounded like so much effort.
To be fair, the basic Jetta comes with a pretty involved driver information center. There is a comprehensive list of car characteristics available in the driver information center. Set trip meters, oil life, fuel range, etc. But it is still very basic and can’t really do much else other than tell you what you may already know.
The design of the VW lineup is pretty conducive for allowing you to see your surroundings. I like being able to see outside of the car while I am driving.
Utility Value: 2
The utility value of the Jetta is average for a sedan this size. I would say more so than most new cars in this range. It is safe to say that you will not be able to tow any sort of thing with this. I can barely tell if it would be able to move 4 portly people. For cars that are sub 10k fairly new such as Mirages, 500s, and Fiestas, this car has much better utility value.
This is not a 5 digit car. This car was priced at $11,500, and the dealer wondered why this car is not moving off the lot. 1) Your price is high. With the awful performance (in exchange good gas mileage), not many people are interested in this vehicle except for those that only care about getting from A to B whilst using as little gas as possible. 2) The mechanicals suck. It isn’t broken, it just takes 20 minutes to go from 40 to 60. 3) There are so many better cars for the same price. There was an 05 Matrix on the lot. Does it have cruise control?
As a further example, the VW dealer I borrowed these photos from is asking $9900, and this one comes Certified under VW’s World Auto program. Still to expensive when you can get cars with better features for slightly above and below this price.
Total: 25/52 – 48%
The Jetta itself is not a bad car. I like the style and the design. But this Jetta S with the 2.0L engine is probably one of the worst modern cars I have ever driven. Performance is slow, features are minimal, and the price (on the example I drove) is too high. There are so many other cars in this price range with better features. If you look within the past 10 years (from 2017), you will be able to find a car with better features than this Jetta for a similar. I realize that it is suppose to be a basic car, but this, this is just awful. Do yourself a favor and get an SE or above.