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Unfortunately there aren’t many cheap new cars left in 2023. But when considering the handful of new cars available for less than $25,000, the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta stands out as a unique choice. Both less spartan and more stylish than most, the cheapest new Volkswagen is also a contender as one of the best value cars in 2023.

The 2023 Volkswagen Jetta is both efficient and engaging

Close-up of the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta headlight
2023 Volkswagen Jetta | Volkswagen

Sure, the new Volkswagen Jetta isn’t on par with its performance-oriented GLI sibling, but the base sedan still hits the mark. The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is good for 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

The small turbocharger spins up quickly, reducing turbo lag and helping that big torque number shine. The result is a respectable 6.9-second run to 60 mph with the eight-speed automatic transmission. And for those who like to row their own, the 2023 Jetta is one of the cheapest new cars with a manual in 2023.

That gearbox is a high point for Volkswagen, offering a smooth but engaging clutch feel and decisive shifts. The manual Jetta shifter feel isn’t on par with a legitimate sports car, but it’s much better than the $21,000 price tag would imply.

Volkswagen Jetta engine bay
2023 Volkswagen Jetta engine bay | Volkswagen

Then there’s the efficiency. The pricier automatic Jetta is good for an EPA-estimated 31 mpg around town and 41 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, the three-pedal setup is good for 29 mpg city and 42 mpg highway. For driving engagement (and to ditch the awkward shift logic of the automatic) the manual is worth the 2 mpg dip around town. And on the highway, the cruising sixth gear keeps things serene even at higher speeds.

Handling in the Jetta sedan is balanced, but a bit softer than expected from the German brand. If you’re jumping into the MK7 Jetta with hopes of a Golf-esque driving experience, it doesn’t quite hit. However, it’s beyond comfortable even on harsh city streets, and responsive enough when things get twisty.

Tech makes the cheapest new VW 1 of the best cars for under $21K

2023 Volkswagen Jetta technology
2023 VW Jetta base tech | Volkswagen

Upon jumping into the driver’s seat of the cheapest 2023 VW model, it’s hard to believe that this car costs less than $21,000. It gets the eight-inch digital instrument cluster complete with customizable views. You’ll also get VW’s App-Connect system which includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Even more impressive, what makes the Volkswagen Jetta one of the best value cars of 2023 is its laundry list of driver assistance tech. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking come standard, as do blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Unfortunately, the base Jetta doesn’t include VW’s IQ.Drive suite, which includes adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. That said, that setup is standard on the Jetta SE, which still costs less than $25K and includes several more advanced features.

Comfort and convenience in the cheapest new Volkswagen

The cheapest Volkswagen of 2023 provides a quality interior for the value.
2023 Volkswagen Jetta interior | Volkswagen

The contoured seats of even the base 2023 Volkswagen Jetta are supremely comfortable and easily outrank similarly-priced competitors like the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra. Those used to higher-spec models may find the cheapest new Volkswagen to be a bit spartan.

To some degree, I can agree. However, Volkswagen’s new design language is more responsible for that than anything. The build quality of the Jetta is still there, and the driver-centric dash design combined with the digital instrument cluster make it one of the best value new cars in 2023.

Of course, there are some features that are lacking for a car of this quality. The manual seat adjustment and archaic climate controls highlight the entry-level price point of the new Jetta S. I’d implore Volkswagen to add $1000 to the base price and deliver standard power seats and automatic climate controls on all Jetta models.

The verdict: Is the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta a good car?

2023 VW Jetta rear
2023 Volkswagen Jetta | Volkswagen

I appreciate the aesthetic of the new VW Jetta, and find the driving experience to be both comfortable and enjoyable even from an enthusiast’s perspective. However, some missing features are unfortunate from a driver convenience standpoint. For example, I’d swap automatic climate control and a power seat for the digital instrument cluster in a heartbeat.

That said, the overall appeal of the new Volkswagen Jetta is present even in the cheapest model. And when you consider the price? It’s easily the best value new car in 2023.

Related Least Expensive Car to Insure in 2023 is a Volkswagen Jetta

Least Expensive Car to Insure in 2023 is a Volkswagen Jetta