2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. 2020 Acura TLX

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 TLX 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 TLX doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Jetta GLI and the TLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 TLX’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The Jetta GLI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the TLX’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Acura 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 TLX’s 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 TLX’s camshafts. If the TLX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Engine

The Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 22 more horsepower (228 vs. 206) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is faster than the Acura TLX (automatics tested):

Jetta GLI

TLX 4 cyl.

TLX V6

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.8 sec

5.8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.8 sec

17.9 sec

14.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.1 sec

7.3 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.4 sec

14.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

93 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Jetta GLI

FWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/32 hwy

TLX

FWD

Auto

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

A-Spec 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/31 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

Auto

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

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 Acura TLX (3). This means the Jetta GLI produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the TLX every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Jetta GLI

TLX

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

The Jetta GLI’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the TLX are solid, not vented.

The Jetta GLI stops much shorter than the TLX:

Jetta GLI

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

179 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 TLX’s standard 55 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 TLX.

Suspension and Handling

The Jetta GLI offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The TLX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition handles at .95 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Jetta GLI’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (36.4 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The Jetta GLI’s turning circle is 3.1 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (36.4 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 550 pounds less than the Acura TLX.

The Jetta GLI is 5.5 inches shorter than the TLX, making the Jetta GLI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Jetta GLI has 1.3 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more rear headroom and 2.9 inches more rear legroom than the TLX.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the Jetta GLI and the TLX 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 TLX 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 TLX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

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

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