2020 Buick Regal Sportback vs. 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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

The Regal Sportback Essence/Avenir/GS’ 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.

Both the Regal Sportback and the Jetta GLI 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The Buick Regal Sportback weighs 474 to 1053 pounds more than the Volkswagen Jetta GLI. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Regal Sportback 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Jetta GLI. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Jetta GLI ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Regal Sportback’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Jetta GLI’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are over 3 times as many Buick dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Regal Sportback’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Buick vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The Regal Sportback’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 22 more horsepower (250 vs. 228) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The Regal Sportback’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 22 more horsepower (250 vs. 228) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The Regal Sportback GS’ standard 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 82 more horsepower (310 vs. 228) and 24 lbs.-ft. more torque (282 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Car and Driver the Regal Sportback GS 3.6 DOHC V6 is faster than the Volkswagen Jetta GLI (automatics tested):

Regal Sportback

Jetta GLI

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

5.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.5 sec

13.8 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.7 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.2 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regardless of its engine, the Regal Sportback’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 Regal Sportback has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta GLI (16.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Regal Sportback 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 GLI doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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The Buick Regal Sportback comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta GLI.

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Buick Regal Sportback, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Jetta GLI.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Regal Sportback GS’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Jetta GLI:

Regal Sportback GS

Jetta GLI

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

11.8 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Regal Sportback’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta GLI (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R18).

The Regal Sportback Avenir/GS’ tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 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 Regal Sportback Avenir/GS has standard 19-inch wheels. The Jetta GLI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Regal Sportback’s wheelbase is 5.8 inches longer than on the Jetta GLI (111.4 inches vs. 105.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Regal Sportback is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the Jetta GLI.

Chassis

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

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Regal Sportback a Large car, while the Jetta GLI is rated a Compact.

The Regal Sportback has 3.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Jetta GLI (98 vs. 94.7).

The Regal Sportback has .3 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, 1 inch more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta GLI.

Cargo Capacity

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Regal Sportback’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. The Jetta GLI’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Servicing Ease

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The Regal Sportback 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Buick 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Jetta GLI Autobahn, the Regal Sportback offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The Regal Sportback’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Jetta GLI does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Regal Sportback GS offers an optional 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.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Regal Sportback (except Base) offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer cornering lights.

When the Regal Sportback with available tilt-down mirrors 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 GLI’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Regal Sportback Preferred/Essence/Avenir/GS’ 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.

On extremely cold winter days, the Regal Sportback Essence/Avenir/GS’ standard 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.

The Regal Sportback GS has standard massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Jetta GLI.

Both the Regal Sportback and the Jetta GLI offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Regal Sportback 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 Regal Sportback Essence/Avenir/GS 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 Regal Sportback (except Base)’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.

Model Availability

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The Buick Regal comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Volkswagen Jetta GLI isn’t available as a station wagon.

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