The Evolution of the Volkswagen Jetta

September 2nd, 2021 by




When people think of the Volkswagen brand, they often think of the Volkswagen Jetta. After all, the model has delivered a compelling mix of European handling and style for seven generations. As we prepare for the arrival of the 2022 Jetta, we took a look back at the evolution of the Jetta over the years.

It is no secret that the Jetta has been extremely popular over the years. In fact, according to, 3.2 million Jettas have been sold in the United States. Born from the demand for a Golf-sized model with a trunk, the original Jetta was introduced to American audiences in 1979 as a 1980 model. Then, the Jetta offered drivers 76 horsepower and upscale styling for the subcompact sedan segment.

In 1985, after receiving positive customer feedback, Volkswagen introduced the Mk2. The horsepower in the Mk4 grew to 100 and offered more visual and interior sophistication. The new Jetta was bigger in every dimension than the Mk1 and could now seat up to five people, moving up to the compact class. The success of the second-generation model was huge, and in 1991, the Jetta became the best-selling European Volkwagen car in North America.

Throughout the 90’s, the Jetta evolved in both size and power. In 1993, the Mk3 featured the brand’s signature narrow-angle V-6 engine with 172 horsepower under the hood, along with updated in design, safety, and interior. It was during this time period where American buyers really began to take notice in the Jetta.

That influence began to grow more with the 1999 arrival of the Jetta Mk4. This particular model shared more similarities and visual cues from the larger Passat than the smaller Golf. A wagon model was then added to the lineup and remains the car many Americans remember when they hear the “Jetta” name to this day.

The current generation of the Jetta made its debut in 2018 for the 2019 model year. Built from the successful MQB platform, the 2019 Jetta offered 148 horsepower and a variety of tech and style improvements such as available in-car WiFi. As a result of the new platform, the seventh-generation Jetta is larger than the previous model and includes a vast amount of new interior features. Those include available ten-color customizable ambient lighting, heated front seats, and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit.

For 2022, a midcycle refresh brings Jetta plenty of changes. The refreshed model adopts the 1.5-liter turbocharged and direct-injection EA211 engine found in the recently-launched Taos compact SUV, making 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Trim offerings have been updated to provide great value, including a new Sport trim. Exterior styling has also been updated with revised front and rear ends, new colors and wheels. Updated interior features include a standard Digital Cockpit and Volkswagen Car-Net telematics with WiFi capability.

Throughout the years, the Jetta has clearly kept pace with drivers who need the flexibility of a small sedan along with the latest technology. We can expect to see that continue with the arrival of the next generation of Jettas.

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