2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. 2019 Lexus IS Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Jetta GLI has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The IS Series doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Jetta GLI has a standard backup collision prevention system that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The IS Series doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Jetta GLI and the IS Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

The Jetta GLI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The IS Series’ 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The Jetta GLI’s corrosion warranty is 4 years longer than the IS Series’ (10 vs. 6 years).

There are almost 3 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Jetta GLI’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the IS Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Jetta GLI’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the IS Series’ camshafts. If the IS Series’ belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Jetta GLI gets better fuel mileage than the IS Series:

MPG

Jetta GLI

FWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

IS Series

RWD

Auto

300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

350 3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/28 hwy

AWD

Auto

300 3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

350 3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Jetta GLI Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen Jetta GLI higher (7 out of 10) than the Lexus IS Series (5). This means the Jetta GLI produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the IS Series every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Jetta GLI offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The IS Series doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Jetta GLI offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The IS Series doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Jetta GLI’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the IS Series:

Jetta GLI

IS Series

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

13.1 inches

The Jetta GLI stops much shorter than the IS Series:

Jetta GLI

IS Series

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The Jetta GLI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the IS Series’ standard 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Jetta GLI has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the IS Series.

Suspension and Handling

The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition handles at .95 G’s, while the IS Series AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 450 pounds less than the Lexus IS Series.

Passenger Space

The Jetta GLI has 4.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the IS Series (94.7 vs. 90.2).

The Jetta GLI has .3 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more rear headroom, 5.2 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Jetta GLI has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (14.1 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Jetta GLI and the IS Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Jetta GLI is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The IS Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Jetta GLI’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The IS Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Jetta GLI has a standard extendable sun visor. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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