Base Camp: 2020 Volkswagen Jetta Comfortline
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
The Jetta has been a slightly offbeat choice in the compact sedan segment for decades. Found in university parking lots across the country, this 2020 model year is the 7th-generation of this long-running German nameplate.
Canadians can select its entry-level trim, called Comfortline, with a 6-speed manual transmission lashed to its 1.4-litre inline-four engine as standard equipment. The stick is a great way to stir the 147 horsepower pot and is vanishingly rare in most segments. Unlike some other markets, the manual is also available in snazzier trims such as the spellcheck-vexing Execline. One more bonus of the 6-speed? It bins the infernal start-stop idling system.
But we’re here to talk about the base model. Far from the dour penalty boxes of even just a few years ago, the 2020 Jetta Comfortline comes equipped with natty 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and power-adjustable heated side mirrors. Even the washer nozzles are heated, a joy to those heading out to cold winter commutes. The exterior is available in six different colours, all at no additional cost. This stands in stark contrast to most companies that either limit the palette on their base cars or charge more for anything not on the greyscale.
Inside, look for an infotainment system that integrates well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth is on board, of course, as is a single USB port. The screen measures a small 6.5 inches (not much bigger than the smartphone being used to power Apple CarPlay, really) and a simple quartet of speakers. Cruise control is standard, even with the manual transmission, while a hill-hold assist will help new drivers get into the groove of shifting a stick. Cloth heated front seats can be adjusted six ways on the driver’s side.
What We’d Choose
With that level of standard equipment, it’s tough to argue against the base model Jetta priced at $21,245. Those unable or unwilling to row their own gears can select an automatic transmission for an additional $1,400. Taking a walk to the next-rung Highline trim, $3,100 dearer, does bring a better infotainment system plus leatherette seats and a few other minor options.
However, one will get the same powertrain no matter how much one spends on a 2020 Jetta, and the amenity level of the Comfortline is very agreeable. If you can live without satellite radio and blind spot monitoring, we recommend downloading a few podcasts and learning to look over your shoulder. This will save yourself over three grand or about $60 per month on a typical five-year note.
After all, there’s nothing offbeat about saving money.