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Volkswagen Jetta vs Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen Jetta vs Volkswagen Passat

In an automotive market saturated with sedans, it’s difficult to sift through the many makes and models available. Most car manufacturers have multiple vehicles in each category with subtle similarities and differences. The Volkswagen Jetta and Volkswagen Passat are two of the three sedans offered by VW. They look nearly identical on the outside, so let’s dig in and compare the Volkswagen Jetta vs Volkswagen Passat to find what differentiates these German sedans.

Volkswagen Jetta Overview

Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder

Horsepower: 115

Fuel Economy: 25 city / 34 hwy

MSRP: $17,325

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Review


Exterior design of the Volkswagen Jetta has remained conservative since the 2013 model year. Nearly identical to the Passat, the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta exemplifies the word, “sedan.” While other car makers are making bold, hit and miss styling choices, VW attempts to hold true to what you would expect from a Volkswagen.

The Jetta is a compact car, but feels more like a mid-size sedan on the inside. Those wanting a small car that can carry four adults comfortably will be pleased with the interior space. The trunk is certainly spacious for a compact car, but is not as impressive as the trunk space found in the Passat.

The cabin of the Jetta is simple in comparison to other compact cars. The design of buttons and gauges is clean, avoiding the clutter found in many competitive compacts. It doesn’t feel like a command center from the future, but the modest presentation will be refreshing to many.


At 115 horsepower, the inexpensive base 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is slow, with 0-60 times around 11 seconds. However, VW offers plenty of engine upgrade options that can dramatically improve both performance and fuel economy. For both power and fuel efficiency, consider the Jetta TDI. This diesel option boasts 45 hwy mpg and 150 horsepower. VW’s powerhouse is the Jetta GLI, which has a turbocharged 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine with 210 horsepower. The GLI offers an incredibly exciting experience. The Jetta Hybrid is the most efficient option, earning an EPA rating of 45 mpg combined.

Handling of the Jetta is controlled and accurate. Responsive steering and great suspension lead to an overall fun driving experience. It handles bumps and rough roads well for a small car. Your daily city commute will be pleasing in the VW Jetta.


The Jetta is one of the safest small cars available. It earned the highest IIHS honor as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and a 5-star overall NHTSA rating. Unlike many new vehicles, the Jetta offers great line of sight thanks to tall pillars and large glass area. In certain trims, Jetta offers blind-spot monitoring, frontal-collision warning, rear cross-traffic alerts, and more. Rearview camera is available, but is not yet a standard feature.


The inexpensive base Jetta isn’t overly extravagant. It has expected features such as auxiliary jack, power windows, air conditioning, etc. Available upgrades include pushbutton start, rearview camera, Car-Net, navigation, rear spoiler, Fender audio, and much more. The wide range of pricing and feature options ensures there is a Jetta for almost everyone.

Volkswagen Passat Overview

Engine: 1.8L 4-cylinder

Horsepower: 170 hp

Fuel Economy: 24 city / 35 hwy

MSRP: $21,340

2015 Volkswagen Passat Review


Stretch out the Jetta ever so slightly, and you have the 2015 Volkswagen Passat. VW chooses to maintain its traditional sedan styling cues. One of the only noticeable differences is a slight variation in the front grille. This conservative exterior doesn’t follow the design fads other carmakers are chasing, which will ensure the vehicle looks relevant for years to come. The Passat isn’t your bold, unique option, but it is an attractive introvert.

The Passat is technically a mid-size sedan, but it feels like a big car on the inside. The cabin is very spacious. Six foot tall adults will be comfortable in the rear seats, and the truck leaves plenty of room for cargo.

VW arranges buttons and gauges in a simple, clean, and easy to understand fashion. Like with the Jetta, it’s a refreshing burst of simplicity in a world of complex car functions. However, tech-savvy individuals may feel the simplicity and the traditional design dates the vehicle a bit.


The turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder performs surprisingly well, and records 0-60 times of about 7.3 seconds with a manual transmission, according to VW. The base engine is good, but the optional Passat TDI Clean Diesel 2.0L 4-cylinder is great. It is slightly slower than the base engine, but achieves an incredible 44 hwy mpg. For optimum power, upgrade to the 3.6L V-6. With 280 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, the V-6 has ample speed.

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat handles very well. The long wheelbase leads to an overall smooth ride. However, the car does produce slightly more wind and road noise than its competitors.


The Passat is one of the safest vehicles in its segment. Visibility is excellent thanks to large glass areas, slim pillars, and fold-down rear headrests. The NHTSA gave the Passat a 5-star overall rating. The Passat is very safe, but misses the mark by not offering some of the latest safety technologies such as blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.


The standard suite of features is just that, standard. Upgraded features include satellite radio, pushbutton start, woodgrain trim, backup camera, navigation, 6.5 inch LCD touch screen and more. It’s not as tech-savvy as other vehicles, but upgraded trims will provide enough features to satisfy most drivers.

Volkswagen Jetta vs Volkswagen Passat Winner:

Base model: Volkswagen Passat

The Passat and Jetta both offer inexpensive, minimalistic base options. The Jetta’s base engine, although much less expensive, doesn’t perform as well as that of the Passat. The Passat offers great fuel economy, average performance, and incredible space and comfort in its base model.

Upgrades: Volkswagen Passat

Both cars have a myriad of options available from hybrid to clean diesel, but the Passat offers the best value in upgrades. The Passat does not offer a hybrid like the Jetta, but the less expensive Passat TDI Clean Diesel achieves nearly the same fuel economy as the Jetta Hybrid at a lower price point.

Overall winner: Volkswagen Passat

Optimal space and fuel economy push the Passat into the winner’s circle. The Passat achieves the fuel economy of a compact car while capturing the spaciousness and comfort of a full size sedan. The Jetta has a lower entry price, which will be attractive to some, but the Passat will provide the highest overall value to its drivers.

2015 Volkswagen Passat

Dustin "Dusty" Rhodes

A fan of nice round numbers and working on tiny European cars, Dusty is the proud owner of a '58 Lloyd 600, a '50 FIAT 500, and is currently on the hunt for a Vespa 400. And, despite all that repair work, he still finds time to write about cars. 

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    nelson June 12, 2015

    A couple things worth mentioning about these two models. First, unlike previous incarnations of these cars, neither the Jetta nor the Passat are equipped with a traction control disable switch. This means the vehicle will not “launch” from a standing start because if you punch it the cars ECU prevents wheel spin. No matter what numbers VW quotes, the 1.8 liter turbo Passat, and I suspect the Jetta as well, will NOT hit 60 mph in less than 8.5 seconds. I’ve track tested the Passer and although the car has a lot of torque spread across the power band, it’s off the line acceleration is severely dampened by the undetectable ESC. So before you go shelling out 26 large for this behemoth, better test drive one to see if you can deal with the lack of thrust that just about any other car in the segment has..


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