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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen Jetta GLI doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
Both the A4 and Jetta GLI have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The A4 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Jetta GLI’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The A4 45 TFSI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The A4 (except Premium)’s optional 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 GLI doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Jetta GLI only offers a rear monitor.
Both the A4 and the Jetta GLI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 202 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Jetta GLI has not been tested, yet.
The A4’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Jetta GLI’s (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 22nd in initial quality. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 13 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.
The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 20 more horsepower (248 vs. 228) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.
As tested in Car and Driver the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Volkswagen Jetta GLI (automatics tested):
Zero to 60 MPH
5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start
On the EPA test cycle the A4 40 TFSI FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Jetta GLI Auto (27 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/32 hwy).
Regardless of its engine, the A4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Jetta GLI Auto.
The A4 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta GLI (15.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Audi A4 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta GLI.
The A4’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer launch control.
The A4 stops shorter than the Jetta GLI:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
For better traction, the A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta GLI (245/40R18 vs. 225/45R18).
The A4’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Jetta GLI’s 45 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A4 offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Jetta GLI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.
The A4 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Jetta GLI’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A4’s wheelbase is 4.4 inches longer than on the Jetta GLI (110 inches vs. 105.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A4 is 1.2 inches wider in the front and .8 inches wider in the rear than on the Jetta GLI.
The A4 has .4 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more rear headroom and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta GLI.
A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A4 easier. The A4’s trunk lift-over height is 26.9 inches, while the Jetta GLI’s liftover is 28.7 inches.
With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A4 offers cargo security. The Jetta GLI’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 A4. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the A4’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The A4 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta GLI 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.
The engine in the A4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Jetta GLI. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.
The A4 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
If the windows are left open on the A4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Jetta GLI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer headlight washers.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A4 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the A4 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer cornering lights.
Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the A4 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.
When the A4 with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Jetta GLI’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The A4’s standard rear view mirror and optional side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Jetta GLI has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
Both the A4 and the Jetta GLI have standard heated front seats. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Jetta GLI.
On extremely cold winter days, the A4 Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
Both the A4 and the Jetta GLI offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A4 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the A4 (except Premium) offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The A4 (except Premium)’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Jetta GLI’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
The A4 Prestige’s Park Steering Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A4, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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