2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Overview

The first VW Jetta GLI rolled off the assembly line in 1984.  And since then, it’s been considered Volkswagen’s GTI with a trunk.

So, quick background.  The VW Golf GTI is the original hot hatch.  A 5-door sports car.  But hatchback.

And the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is the Golf GTI’s sibling.  But a compact sedan.  Just as sporty looking.  More practical overall.

Plus it’s a great performer.  Afterall the GLI is the enthusiasts’ Jetta.  But, I’d never driven the 2020 VW Jetta GLI.

So, I picked one up from my friends at Ontario Volkswagen for this review.

2020 VW Jetta GLI Top-3:

  1. Value
  2. Styling
  3. Technology

–>Continue reading or click play below to listen.<–

2020 VW Jetta GLI passenger front

228 hp with 258 lb-ft of torque

Trim Configurations and Pricing

VW’s keeping it easy.  Because this year’s 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI comes in just to trims.  And they’re very different.

  2020 VW Jetta GLI Trims & MSRPs:

  • S (base) $26,245
  • Autobahn $29,945

The base model S comes with all the necessities.  It’s nicely equipped for a base model.

But boy.  Bump up to the Autobahn.  And well, you get it all.

Plus, when you go with the Autobahn trim.  You have the option of the Black package.  Sharp!  To say the least.

What does GLI stand for?

Grand luxury injection. :0)

Engine, Transmissions & MPG

Go with the S.  Or, the Autobahn.  Either way, you get the same powerful engine.

It’s an inline 4-cylinder.  2-liter and turbocharged.  And it delivers 228-horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque.

2020 VW Jetta GLI wheel

18″ Alloy wheels


Manual and automatic transmissions are available.  Front-wheel drive either way.

Personally, I love manual trans.  And especially for a car like this.  But my test driver was an automatic.

It delivered plenty of fun.  Especially with available paddle shifters.

So, when you factor in time spent sitting in traffic.  The automatic transmission is probably the way I’d go.

One note.  The transmission will impact your curb weight.

With manual trans, GLI’s curb weight is 3,225-pounds.  And automatic transmission bumps that up to 3,294 lbs.

Fuel Economy

With the same engine.  And since automatic transmissions are so darn efficient these days.  The GLI’s fuel economy is nearly identical.

2020 VW Jetta GLI MPG:

  • Automatic: 25/28/32
  • Manual: 25/28/33


What Does 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Look Like?

The 2020 VW Jetta GLI is bold and sporty.  At first glance, I’d say it was a midsize car.  Not a compact.

Because it looks big.  And frankly, it is.  But the EPA rating is compact.

2020 VW Jetta GLI passenger profile

105.6-inch wheelbase – overall length 185.2″

GLI has super-clean lines.  From the front and profiles.  And it has an athletic stance from any angle.

Exterior Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase 105.6
  • Length 185.2
  • Width 70.8
  •  Track:
    • front 60.7
    • rear 60.4
  • Height 56.8
  • Ground clearance 5.0

*All inches 

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Interior

Inside the GLI provides lots of creature comforts.  And it’s unmistakeably Euro-DNA is visible and felt.

front seats and dash

Spacious interior

From red stitching and pin-hole seats.  To the flat-bottom steering wheel and available digital cockpit.  The Jetta GLI satisfies the senses.

And it’s all accented with VW’s legendary attention to fit and finish.  The details!  And I love that.

backseat w/ armrest down

Backseat legroom 37.4″

And that’s to that German engineering.  Jetta GLI’s backseats are beyond compact-car comfortable.

Even with five adults, a slightly extended drive is tolerable.  And, with just four adults?  Road trip ready!

cargo area

14.1 cu-ft cargo space

Plus the 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI provides 14.1 cu-ft of cargo space.  And that’s with the backseats up.

Interior Metrics:

  • Legroom 41.1/37.4
  • Shoulder room 55.9/54.0
  • Headroom 38.5/37.4

*All inches 

Infotainment Technology

What’s the best tech function in the GLI?  Hands-down the available digital cockpit.

digital cockpit

Customize your digital cockpit

Because it allows total customization.  Where instrument gauges are normally found.  You can create your own cockpit.

So you can put your navigation screen in the dashboard.  And more.  Plus you can save multiple profiles.

performance monitoring

6.5 or 8″ touchscreens

Plus available BeatsAudio and driving performance monitoring, Volkswagen Car-Net, and wireless phone charging.

Are great additions to GLI’s great looks and performance.

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Top-3

  1. Value: All of the above and all of the below screams it.  Jetta GLI is an incredible buy for the money.  And go to Ontario VW for an even better deal!
  2. Styling: Some of my fellow car-writers suggest GTI is far better looking.  I disagree.  In fact, I prefer GLI’s looks over GTI’s.  What do you think?
  3. Technology: This is where GLI has no competition to GTI.  VW’s digital cockpit alone next-levels-it.
2020 VW Jetta GLI rear

2020 VW Jetta GLI – courtesy of Ontario Volkswagen

Looks good from the rear too!  For all your VW needs connect with my friends at Ontario Volkswagen.   Or email me and I’ll connect you to management directly.

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