The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI stays true to its roots.  Because going all the way back to 1984 it’s been considered a GTI with a trunk.  And that holds true today.

But what does that mean?  Specifically, it’s sporty, Euro-stylish, handles great and is fun to drive.  Moreover, it’s wildly affordable.  And definitely within the financial reach of every car buyer.

 At Ontario VW, every new Jetta GLI includes 3-years of zero-cost maintenance!  Check out your best prices.

’21 VW Jetta GLI Top-3:

  1. Value
  2. Design
  3. Handling

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2021 VW Jetta GLI driver rear

228 hp & 258 lb-ft of torque

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review: Value!

Here’s what’s great about VW.  No other car company has as robust an ownership group.  Because VW enjoys sibling brands like Porsche and Audi.  Plus many others.

So it’s easy to understand how VW manages to pack so much value into an incredibly reasonable price point.  And that definitely holds true with the ’21 Jetta GLI.  You get far more than you pay for.

It accelerates quickly, is nimble to navigate, and exudes European luxury inside and out.  And all at a price that’s well within the reach of any new car shopper.

Trims And Pricing

For 2021 Volkswagen keeps your GLI options pretty simple.  You can go with the base-model S or jump to the top-trimmed Autobahn.

2021 VW Jetta Trims & MSRPs:

  • S (base) $26,345
  • Autobahn $34,745

Of course, with only two trims there’s a considerable difference between the two.  And the GLI that’s pictured throughout this post is a base model S.  It’s adequately equipped for sure.  But my pick would definitely be to go with the Autobahn.  And that’s because of all the extras you get including Volkswagen’s digital cockpit which is one of my favorites.

It replaces the traditional instrumentation in the dashboard with a digital monitor.  And that monitor is completely customizable.  So you can have a traditional view with your tachometer and speedometer.  Or, you can minimize that information while placing your navigation instructions inside the dash!

2021 VW Jetta GLI passenger profile w_clouds

Length 185.2″ Height 57.9″

Engine, Transmission, And Fuel Economy

While keeping your trim options simple VW does the same with your engine and transmission choices.  Because you get nearly the same no matter what.

2021 VW GLI Engine

So, regardless of S or Autobahn trims you get a highly spirited 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder that turbocharged.  And it puts out 228 horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque.

2021 VW Jetta GLI engine

6-speed manual or 7-spd automatic transmission

Transmission Options

When it comes to transmissions you can go with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic.  As much as I love manual, living here in Southern California almost always requires automatic for daily drivers.  Because manual transmissions and SoCal traffic is a recipe for frustration.  But, if you can control your schedule and miss traffic it’s doable.

But, that said, the automatic offers paddle shifters to keep the driving experience fun and low-maintenance at the same time.

When it comes to curb weights the manual transmission comes to 3,228 pounds while the automatic bumps up to 3,294 lbs.

2021 VW Jetta GLI wheel

18″ aluminum-alloy wheels

’21 Volkswagen GLI MPG

And GLI’s fuel economy keeps you skipping more gas stations than stopping at for certain.  That’s due to 24 mpg in the city for both transmission options.  While you’ll get 33 mpg on the highway with manual trans and up to 35 highway mpg with automatic.

What Does ’21 GLI Look Like?

It’s undeniably two things – European and a VW.  Sporty and stylish with great lines from all angles.  And again, that masterful design packed under a very affordable price tag is tough to beat.  Value, baby, value. :0)

Exterior Dimensions:

  • Wheelbase 105.6
  • Track
    • Front 60.6
    • Rear 60.7
  • Length 185.2
  • Width 70.8
  • Height 57.9

*All inches 

Inside the 2021 VW Jetta GLI

And speaking of both great lines and value – the fit and finish of GLI is top-notch inside and out.  Which, being a Volkswagen, comes standard.

front seats and dash

Up to 94.7 cu-ft passenger volume

And even the base-model GLI is sporty inside.  With red accent stitching and stainless steel capping on the pedals.  Plus a flat-bottom steering wheel and driver-centric dash.

2021 VW Jetta GLI backseat

37.4″ backseat legroom

Additionally, the Jetta GLI is spacious inside for an EPA-class compact vehicle.  It seats up to 5-adults with plenty of comfort space and cargo room too.

cargo area w_ backseat partially down

14.1 cu-ft cargo space with the backseats up

When you drop the backseats down 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is highly reminiscent of the Golf GTI in terms of the ability to open up space for your stuff.

’21 VW GLI Interior Volume:

  • Headroom 38.5/37.2
  • Shoulder room 55.9/54.0
  • Legroom 41.1/37.4

* All inches

Safety And Technology

Both trims come with Volkswagen’s touchscreen infotainment systems.  The base-model S includes a 6.5-inch while the Autobahn bumps up to an 8-inch display.  Another notable feature inside when you go with the Autobahn is the premium BeatsAudio system.

Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on both trims as well.


Base model cockpit

VW’s Digital Cockpit

In addition to a totally customizable in-dash monitor replacing the traditional instrument cluster, multiple digital cockpit profiles can be saved.  And this easy access is great for different driving types.  For instance, you can have a profile for your city driving and another for highway driving or road trips.

Driver Assistance

Available driver assistance and safety features include all the basics.  Such as blind-spot monitoring, front and lane assist, rear traffic alert, and more.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI – Top-3

The ’21 Jetta GLI packs a lot into its barely $30k price tag.

  1. Value: So, value heads my Top-3 list because it’s truly a tough act to follow for any carmaker.  When it comes to non-luxury European there’s truly no comparison.
  2. Design: The fit and finish of GLI rocks.  Clean outside and inside.  Great attention to detail throughout.
  3. Handling: GLI is fun to drive.  It’s big for a compact but drives close to its GTI sibling.
2021 VW Jetta Jetta GLI rear badge and plate

Ontario VW

Ontario Volkswagen – Southern California’s VW Dealer

Thanks, as always to my friends at Ontario VW for providing the 2021 VW Jetta GLI for this review.  That’s your go-to dealer for all things Volkswagen – buying, servicing, or just talking shop!

All the latest Volkswagen news HERE.