My Thoughts Exactly: 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Simply put, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI became the benchmark for compact sedans looking to ooze more performance for more engaging driving.
Two years ago, I welcomed the “GTI with a trunk” in its latest – the seventh – iteration. I thought it was an entertaining sports sedan that continued to set the mark for compact cars engineered for enthusiasts. Simply put, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI became the benchmark for compact sedans looking to ooze more performance for more engaging driving.
For 2022 Volkswagen gave the Jetta a mid-cycle refresh. The changes were numerous, from new grilles, wheels, taillights, shifters, steering wheels, and lots of new badging with the brand’s latest logo. “Regular” Jetta models also get the 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine experienced on the Taos.
However, Jetta GLI models retain the 228-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with a choice of six-speed manual or DSG gearboxes. However, Volkswagen offers only one GLI trim level – the Autobahn. While fully loaded, Volkswagen does offer a $595 Black Package that gives the GLI a stealthier image and an assertive vibe.
There is really no difference between the two Jetta GLIs of this same generation. They drive very well and offer the enthusiast a solid sedan that fits their lifestyles – even if it includes spouses, kids, and pets.
Starting at $31,295, the Jetta GLI is a decent value. It comes well equipped with everything you need and want. It has adaptive cruise control for long stints behind the wheel. It has a solid infotainment system that connects very well to your devices. The Beats Audio speaker system keeps you entertained over every mile. The seats are supportive and comfortable, yielding absolutely no fatigue.
It also does a good job scooting around town. The driving dynamics package was superb with great balance, handling, maneuverability, and stopping power. Things do firm up when put into Sport mode. However, this is the driving mode you want to be in most of the time to truly enjoy what the Jetta GLI has to offer to the driver.
However, there more to this car’s story this time around.
As you read recently that this Jetta GLI became part of my relocation across to Saint Paul. I did not strap a bed onto its roof, but its 14.1 cubic foot trunk, accommodating back seat and the passenger seat came in handy to take what I can from the storage unit to the new home.
It took a few trips for the Jetta GLI to get the things I needed into the new place – each one smaller than the other. Still, that “GTI with a trunk” came through like a champ.
Plus, the Jetta GLI went shopping. It brought home new bedding, filing items, and other household goods to replace the ones that were worn out from the old place. Again, the 14.1 cubic foot trunk and rear seat area swallowed up everything from these trips.
This flat (and glossy) Pure Gray Autobahn example was also put to work literally. A run to the magazine’s editorial office eventually sent me to East Central Minnesota Pride in Pine City. There, it took me up and back on Interstate 35 with solid performance and good fuel economy. In all, I averaged 30.1 MPG – which is not what you expect a performance compact sedan to achieve. But, it does. That is one takeaway one should experience in the Jetta GLI.
While delivering smile-inducing fuel economy, it also returned equally happy driving dynamics. The ride and handling mix is a great offset between a smooth ride and excellent cornering. You can feel some firmness, even in Sport mode, but it does not induce any stress on the body or fatigue.
The brakes work very well with good pedal feel and response to the wheels. I found good stops in normal and panic situations. The steering is good, though I wished it was sharper. On-center feel was fine, and you do get a good weight when in Sport mode.
If you think that this sports sedan may be out of your reach, think again. This 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn tester came with a sticker price of $33,980. As I said before, this is a decent value.
The bottom line is that the Volkswagen Jetta GLI gives you everything in one neat package. It is practical, sporty, offers both good performance and fuel economy, and can seat 4-5 people inside with that sizeable 14.1 cubic foot trunk.
It is also one of those cars that you drive for the sake of having fun. That is why I like the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volkswagen of America
All photos by Randy Stern