With an impressive new base engine and a fresh touchscreen interface, the 2016 Jetta is trying very hard to distract buyers from that little computer issue that VW had with its diesel lineup. Thankfully, it’s a hell of a good distraction. With 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque from just 1,400 rpm, the 1.4-liter turbo here is everything that a supposedly economy engine should be. The old engine was the very familiar and very tired 2.0-liter mill that has been around for literally decades. Here, VW has dropped more than half a liter and added power and fuel economy. Compared to the old 2.0, this new engine adds 35 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque, plus 5 miles per gallon on either end of the spectrum, for a total of 28 city and 39 highway. More importantly, it’s real, usable power. With all that torque showing up just off idle, you don’t need to wring the engine out like a wet rag just to get it going, and that means you don’t use as much fuel, either. Plus, the engine is responsive no matter where you’re revving. You don’t have to worry about which gear you’re in.The power is just always there. So how’d they achieve this? Well, if you’ve hung around hot-rodders at all, you’ve heard of a stroker kit, and that’s basically what we have here. They shrank the bore and lengthened the stroke on the old engine and added a bunch of extra torque along the way. Couple that with a turbo for extra oomph up high, and you’ve got a very drivable engine that is a welcome change from the old, gutless 2.0.Hell, a Prius would beat the old Jetta to 60 miles an hour by a lot. And that’s not just embarrassing, that’s tragic. This has been a long time coming. And speaking of a long time coming, there’s a USB port here – an actual USB port. No more of these proprietary cords that barely worked anyway. You have a full, quick, intuitive interface that has full cell-phone integration. All of your apps mirrored right here on the 6.3-inch touchscreen display through Google Auto or Apple CarPlay.Although if you’re an iPhone user and you prefer Google Maps, you are out of luck – Apple Maps is your only option here. The styling, both inside and out, is clean and it’s simple, and a lot of people find it kind of boring, but I disagree. German cars have always been Spartan in their styling, and if you’re looking for something showier, you know, Mazda and Hyundai and Ford all have
flashier options out there. But I wonder how they’re going to look a few years down the road.This is classic. What the Jetta does offer is the best backseat and trunk capacity in the segment. I’ve got 6 feet of cameraman stuffed comfortably in the rear, and with 15.7 cubic feet of trunk space, we had to brace all the camera equipment back there to keep it from sliding around too much. When this generation of Jetta first came out, people complained about the drum brakes out back and the lack of a rear independent suspension, but that’s all been fixed now. Competitors do offer flashier styling and a slightly lower price, but the Jetta has a perfect safety rating, an above- average stopping distance, and a functional engine that’s actually fun to drive. Yes, you do pay a little bit more, but with all the extra effort VW’s been putting in of late, it’s impossible to claim that you’re not getting what you pay for anymore.Hey, thanks for watching. Don’t forget to comment and subscribe, and you can click the link in the description to head over to CarGurus.com and read my full review of the 2016 Jetta. .