Hybrid Jetta racks up mpg

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

For 2013, Volkswagen introduced the first Jetta Hybrid.

It comes in the same four trim levels as the standard Jetta, but the gasoline-electric drive system adds $5,000 to the prices, which range from $24,995 for the basic model to $31,180 for the SEL Premium, which I tested.

According to EPA ratings, the Jetta Hybrid should achieve 42 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway. On my tester, the dash computer showed my consumption was 37.3 mpg, based on using slightly less than a full tank of gas.

The Jetta Hybrid's two closest competitors are the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Acura ILX Hybrid, which is a fancy version of the Civic. The Civic's EPA ratings are 44/44 mpg, while those of the ILX are 39/38. The Jetta diesel has ratings of 30/42, so it's another option for those considering the hybrid.

Each Jetta Hybrid trim level builds on the previous, starting with interior and exterior hybrid-specific features. Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, and a six-speaker audio system are included on the base model.

My SEL Premium tester lists for $31,180, and includes bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, fog lights and cornering lights, rearview camera, 17-inch alloy wheels and a Fender premium audio system.

The Fender audio system is exclusive to Volkswagen. The 400-watt system features a 10-channel amplifier that feeds two tweeters on the front body pillars — with the Fender logo — and two in the rear doors. There is a 50-watt woofer in each door and a 100-watt subwoofer under the rear shelf. As always, we enjoyed some of our favorite music via the iPod interface and satellite radio.

I was pleased that the audio system was easy to operate, with buttons and knobs in addition to the controls available on the touch screen.

The touch screen is used by the audio and navigation systems, the rearview camera, and to give a detailed visualization of powertrain operations such as where the power is coming from or going — battery, electric motor and gasoline engine.

The multi-function display shows outside temperature, driver settings, gear selection, and trip information, and has a second audio display. The screen also indicates the level of battery charge and available amount of electric driving.

Emma Jayne Williams is a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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