Hardly the bridge between the mid-level commuter auto and the entry-level luxury family car that it once was, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta S nevertheless offers a ton of value. A roomier cabin and 15 cubic feet of trunk space combines with 15-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, remote power door locks and power windows, as well as telescoping tilt-wheel steering for a presentable setting of form and function. Add in standard air conditioning and a single-CD player with four speakers, and such options as Bluetooth communications technology, front and rear carpeted floor mats and an auxiliary iPod interface to behold a 5-passenger midsize sedan of at least adequate endowment for a pleasantly affordable price. To top it all off, the Jetta S trim still retains at least a modicum of the heady agility that made it a hoot to drive.
Powering the 2012 Jetta S is a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine (I4) that mates with a standard 5-speed manual transmission for 115 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, as well as 24 mpg city/34 highway. This front-wheel-drive-only (FWD) base trim is also eligible for an available 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission with driver-selectable sport mode that gets 23/29.
Standard safety equipment aboard the 2012 Jetta S includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), as well as traction and electronic stability control (ESC). Standard occupant protection consists of front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and a front head-restraint whiplash protection system. Daytime running lights and a post-collision safety system, meanwhile, top off the list of standard safety features.