This week I'm back behind the wheel of the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta - this time the GLI Autobahn (I reviewed the Jetta SEL not too long ago.) The Jetta, all-new in 2019, gets a refresh for 2022. The GLI is actually a stand-alone Jetta performance-oriented model which only comes in the Autobahn trim.
The Jetta has sharp, crisp lines that give it a sporty appeal. The GLI amps it up a notch with its 18-inch machined alloy wheels, gloss black grille frame, signature red exterior accents, badging, black window surrounds, red-painted brake calipers, and trunk lid lip spoiler. I have to say the Pure Gray exterior color really makes the red accents pop.
For 2022, the GLI adds a black honeycomb diffuser and a wider dual sport exhaust with improved acoustics.
The GLI Autobahn is equipped with LED projector headlights, daytime running lights and taillights as well as VW's Adaptive Front-lighting System. Other standard exterior features include power-operated heated side mirrors and rain sensing wipers.
The big story with the front-wheel drive GLI is its sizable power boost over the standard Jetta. It's 2.0T engine delivers 228-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. (The other Jetta lineup is equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo with 158-horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.) Along with a much better acceleration experience, I also had a much better experience with the GLI's optional 7-speed DSG Tiptronic transmission vs the SEL's 8-speed. (A six-speed manual transmission is standard on both Jetta and Jetta GLI.)
You do trade off a bit of fuel economy for the more powerful engine. The Jetta GLI delivers 30 mpg combined as opposed to the SEL's 33 mpg.
Inside you find a very roomy cabin with a mix of soft-touch and plastic that includes leather, glossy black and red accents and stitching. The GLI is only available with a Black Titan interior. It features perforated leather seating surfaces with a red underlay. The sport 6-way power driver's seat felt great and the front seats are heated and ventilated.
The GLI has a new leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with touch functions and a red “GLI” clip. DSG models add paddle shifters.
Above the steering wheel, VW's 10.25 inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro is terrific and provides a lot of easy to read info.
Underneath an 8-inch multimedia screen, you'll find large dials for the climate controls. The center console is home to the push button start, leather-wrapped gear shift knob, and electronic parking brake along with automatic stop/start and a drive mode selector. Two geometric-shaped cup holders are far from super-sized.
A roomy second row offers a drop-down center console and 60/40 split rear-folding seat. Trunk space was on the roomy side.
Other standard GLI features include a black headliner, dual zone climate, power sunroof, stainless steel pedal caps, illuminated door sills, and VW's terrific 10-color ambient lighting system.
One nit-picky note: I have to say I'm not a huge fan of VW's door entry system. It doesn't unlock upon approach when it senses the key fob. Instead you have to physically push a button on the door handle.
The Jetta GLI is equipped with VW's Composition Media system. It runs all-new MIB3 on an 8-inch color touchscreen that's slightly angled towards the driver. It also houses a rear view camera that could use better resolution. MIB3 is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, Sirius XM w/360, WiFi, and wireless App-Connect. A premium 9-speaker BeatsAudio system delivers great sound in the space. You get two illuminated USB-C ports in the center stack, and one charge-only port in the storage console.
Ride and Drive
The Jetta GLI delivers an enjoyable ride that will get your parents to an appointment in comfort. My mom commented on its smooth ride (of course I wasn't in Sport mode at the time.) But take it out on your own, dial into sport mode, and you'll see the more performance-oriented aspects like a firmer suspension backed up by a sportier exhaust note. I found the GLI's drive “Comfort,” “Eco,” and "Sport" drive modes to be very distinct.
The GLI's ride and drive sets itself apart from the Jetta thanks to multiple factors including DCC adaptive chassis control which offers three different settings of suspension firmness, a XDS Cross Differential System that improves handling, a VAQ limited-slip front differential lock, a multi-link rear suspension and a rear anti-roll bar, and sport-tuned gas-filled shock absorbers.
Also of note, the GLI's excellent braking capability. It shares its front brakes with the previous generation Golf R. Finally, I'm always impressed by VW's quiet ride and quiet engine compared to some of its competitors.
This GLI is equipped with IQ Drive, VW's semi-autonomous system with Travel Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist, Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross Traffic, Active Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert. It also comes with VW's Light Assist. which is High Beam Control for headlights. The system automatically switches on the headlamp high beams above 37 mph on dark or poorly lit roads. GLI also includes Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System.
What You'll Pay
The GLI is a few grand pricier than the less powerful SEL I recently reviewed - but still a great price point for new vehicle. The only option is the Pure Gray color ($395.)
In a world where the average price of a new vehicle topped $48,000 in July, the Jetta GLI is proof you can get a well-executed, sporty, compact sedan with great technology and driver assistance features for under $35,000.
- What I liked most: Looks, ride and drive, BeatsAudio.
- What I would change: I'd love a few more ponies from that turbo engine.
- MSRP: Base price: $31,795. As equipped: $33,815.
- Fuel Economy: 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 4,284 miles.
- Weight: 3,272 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 186.9" long/ 70.8” wide excluding mirrors/57.9" high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons with fuel tank on the passenger side.
- Official Color: Pure Gray ($395).
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2022 VW Jetta GLI in a few words: A stylish, sporty compact sedan with a lot to offer for the price point.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty/7-year/100,000-mile Corrosion Perforation; 2-years/20,000 miles carefree maintenance; 3-years roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Puebla, Mexico.
- Manufacturer's website: Volkswagen