The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta Isn’t Living up to Expectations

The Volkswagen Jetta is the entry-level sedan that sits happily between affordability and luxury. It doesn’t come with the same German prestige as brands like BMW and Audi, but owners have seemed to love previous generations of the cars just the same. Every year it seems that we set high expectations for the vehicle, hoping it will be that perfect compromise car that’s inexpensive enough to drive daily and nice enough to make you feel proud of your car. The 2021 model of the Volkswagen Jetta, however, seems to already fall a little short.

The humble Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta is a modest yet appealing option if you want the practicality of a four-door sedan, but don’t want to a more standard commuter car. With a starting price of under $20,000 it seems like a great contender among other similarly priced options, and with all of the bells and whistles you can still expect to pay less than $30,000. But, you know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, it is usually because it is.

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is displayed at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview
The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Joel Lerner/Xinhua, Getty

Questionable reliability

A quick peek at the Consumer Reports predicted reliability scores is enough to make you second guess even taking the Volkswagen Jetta for a test drive. In fact, there is already one recall for the new model year, only heightening our doubts about the car. It received a low ranking for reliability score because previous model years of the same generation haven’t been known to be incredibly reliable, and while we could be proven wrong, that is an expensive risk to take on a brand new car.

A silver 2021 Volkswagen Jetta parked with the sun in the background
The 2021 VW Jetta on display | Volkswagen

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It’s missing a few things

For a 2021 model we have exceptionally high expectations when it comes to standard safety features. No matter how much money you are spending, there are just some safety features that have become incredibly useful in cars, and really should be standard for most vehicles — especially an entry-level luxury car. The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta has only optioned standard safety features like blind spot warning, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warning on higher trim levels, leaving the most affordable base model feeling relatively primitive.

Volkswagen Jetta is on display during North American International Auto Show
The Volkswagen Jetta | David Graff/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Just like any car, you can focus on the good or the bad, and there are some redeeming qualities for the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta. It’s noted to have a comfortable and spacious interior and provides responsible fuel economy, balancing out the negatives with two keynotes that are important to many consumers looking to buy a reliable commuter car or daily driver.