Volkswagen has carved out a fuel economy niche with its efficient diesel models, but it turns out, the German brand also offers an impressive hybrid. And get this: It's actually enjoyable to drive. Really.
The Jetta Hybrid is packed with technology: It's the only U.S.-market hybrid that uses a turbocharged engine—a small 1.4-liter that produces 170-hp in conjunction with an electric motor and advanced lithium-ion battery pack. It's a full hybrid, so it can drive up to 45 mph without running the gas engine. And it's one of the smoothest hybrids available. (See which hybrids and diesels really save money.)
A seven-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission delivers seamless performance, without the strained high-revving behavior most hybrids exhibit when accelerating. Once under way, jab the accelerator and the car downshifts just like a regular car. VW's dual-clutch transmissions have been known for some jerky responses in low-speed, parking-lot driving, but not here. The Jetta Hybrid's electric motor handles most of the low speed chores, only handing off to the gas engine and shifting above 20 mph or so.
The Hybrid also uses all the better components from our favorite Jetta version, the GLI sports sedan. It benefits from an independent rear suspension and some worthwhile upgrades to interior materials, such as a padded dashboard.
Fuel economy is pretty impressive and better than the popular Jetta TDI diesel. But it can't match some of the best hybrids. Another downer? The Jetta Hybrid requires premium fuel. (Visit our hybrid car buying guide.)
The biggest problem with the Jetta Hybrid, though, is the price: We paid $28,055 for our mid-level SE, with no seat heaters or sunroof. To get those, you'd have to spend more than $30,000.
Check our quick take video below for our impressions, and read our complete Jetta road test for the full details.