2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Jetta doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The TLX offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Jetta doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The TLX’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Jetta doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The TLX V6 offers an optional Surround View Camera System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Jetta only offers a rear monitor.

Both the TLX and the Jetta 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Acura TLX weighs 546 to 950 pounds more than the Volkswagen Jetta. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Acura TLX is safer than the Volkswagen Jetta:

TLX

Jetta

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The TLX comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years 50,000 miles. Acura will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen only gives three years or 36,000 miles of roadside assistance on the Jetta.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the TLX has a standard 650-amp battery. The Jetta’s standard 480-amp battery and largest (optional) 640 amp battery aren’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 24th in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Acura vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Acura 3 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl. produces 59 more horsepower (206 vs. 147) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl. The TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 143 more horsepower (290 vs. 147) and 83 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 184) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

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

TLX 4-cyl.

TLX V6

Jetta

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

5.8 sec

7.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.9 sec

14.1 sec

22.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.3 sec

6.2 sec

8.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

14.2 sec

16.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93 MPH

100 MPH

87 MPH

Top Speed

134 MPH

129 MPH

127 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The Jetta doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The TLX has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta (17.2 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The TLX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Jetta doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

The Acura TLX comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta.

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura TLX V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Jetta.

The TLX offers a standard 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 Jetta doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

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

TLX

Jetta

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.5 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.8 inches

The TLX stops much shorter than the Jetta:

TLX

Jetta

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the TLX has larger standard tires than the Jetta (225/55R17 vs. 205/60R16). The TLX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (245/40R19 vs. 205/60R16).

The TLX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Jetta’s standard 60 series tires. The TLX A-Spec’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the TLX has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Jetta. The TLX A-Spec’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium.

The TLX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Jetta doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Acura TLX has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Volkswagen Jetta has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The TLX has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the TLX flat and controlled during cornering. The Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the TLX’s wheelbase is 3.6 inches longer than on the Jetta (109.3 inches vs. 105.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TLX is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.7 inches wider in the rear than on the Jetta.

The TLX handles at .84 G’s, while the Jetta SEL pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The TLX V6 SH-AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Jetta SEL (26.7 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the TLX has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The Jetta uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The TLX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Jetta doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The TLX has 1.5 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front shoulder room and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the TLX easier. The TLX’s trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Jetta’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the TLX’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Jetta’s useful trunk space.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the TLX offers cargo security. The Jetta’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the TLX. The Jetta doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The TLX uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 35% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the TLX the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Jetta can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The TLX’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Jetta’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The TLX’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Jetta’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

The TLX’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Volkswagen charges extra for heated mirrors on the Jetta.

When the TLX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Jetta’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The TLX V6 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Jetta offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The TLX has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Jetta SE/R-Line/SEL/SEL Premium.

Both the TLX and the Jetta offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the TLX has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Jetta doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Acura TLX offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Jetta doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

The TLX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the TLX will retain 48.4% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the Jetta only retains 45.57% to 47.04%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the Jetta because typical repairs cost much less on the TLX than the Jetta, including $380 less for a water pump, $13 less for a muffler, $19 less for front brake pads, $58 less for a fuel pump, $75 less for front struts and $185 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Volkswagen Jetta isn't recommended.

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

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