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The Volkswagen Jetta has long been a popular choice among first-time drivers and young professionals. Its sporty yet sophisticated appearance is quite appealing, and its low price and impressive fuel economy make it an enticing purchase. The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is underrated in many ways, but many buyers won’t give the compact car a second look if it doesn’t meet their top criteria.

Unfortunately, that’s where the Jetta might fall short. Many shoppers keep safety top of mind. The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta nearly looks the part, as it performed admirably in the NHTSA’s crash tests, earning it a five-star overall safety rating. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A closer inspection of the car’s offerings and another safety organization’s findings shed further light on the situation.

How safe is the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta?

A white 2020 Volkswagen Jetta driving down a ramp
The 2020 VW Jetta in action | Photo via Volkswagen

We already know that VW’s compact car is constructed to protect you in a crash. But how does it help you avoid one in the first place? This question has a complicated answer because it depends on the trim level you choose.

The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta’s base model, which has a starting MSRP of $18,895, is pretty bare-bones. The only standard driver-assistance technology it comes with is a rearview camera. 

However, it isn’t too expensive to make the car a whole lot safer. The Driver Assistance package only costs $450, and it features forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. 

We have to wonder why Volkswagen didn’t just make these systems standard equipment and slightly raise the vehicle’s starting price. Additionally, all of these technologies come standard on the SE trim and higher. Meanwhile, moving up to the SEL model affords you adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high-beams, and lane-keep assist.

The experts voice their concern

Driver-assistance technologies and robust build quality are the foundation of an extremely safe vehicle. However, safety organizations can still find fault with a car even when these aspects are in place.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) pointed out a significant flaw in the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta that raises an eyebrow. The independent organization gave the Jetta a rating of “good” in most categories. However, it found that the Jetta’s headlights didn’t provide enough visibility on the sides of the road. Thus, the IIHS gave the car a rating of “poor” or “marginal” – depending on the trim level – in this category.

The Jetta’s absence of a pedestrian detection system and a rating of “acceptable” in the LATCH system ease of use didn’t do it any favors, either.

Is a new VW Jetta the safest choice for you?

Safety should be a paramount concern for any driver, and you should fully trust that your vehicle will protect you should the unforeseen happen. That’s why new-car shoppers may want to consider a different model aside from the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta.
This model has its fair share of problems, and there are better values within its class. For instance, the Honda Civic is one of the most beloved compact cars, as it is sportier and has more standard safety features than the Jetta. Other options in the compact class include the ultra-safe Subaru Impreza, which comes standard with all-wheel drive.


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