2020 Hyundai Elantra Sedan vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Elantra Sedan (except SE)’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 Elantra Sedan’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Jetta doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Elantra Sedan 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.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Elantra Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Jetta was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

The Elantra Sedan comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years unlimited miles. Hyundai 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 doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Jetta.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Elantra Sedan 4 years and 28000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Jetta. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Jetta ends after only 6 years or 72000 miles.

There are over 28 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Elantra Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Elantra Sedan’s reliability 18 points higher than the Jetta.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Elantra Sedan second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Jetta isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 42 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 Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 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 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 6 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s standard 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder produces 54 more horsepower (201 vs. 147) and 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 184) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Jetta:

MPG

Elantra Sedan

Auto

Eco 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

33 city/41 hwy

SE 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/41 hwy

Jetta

Manual

1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

30 city/40 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

30 city/40 hwy

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Hyundai Elantra Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Volkswagen Jetta is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.

Transmission

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

The Elantra Sedan has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Jetta doesn’t offer a CVT.

The Elantra Sedan offers an available 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 Elantra Sedan Sport’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Jetta:

Elantra Sport

Jetta

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.5 inches

The Elantra Sedan stops much shorter than the Jetta:

Elantra

Jetta

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Elantra Sedan Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (225/45R17 vs. 205/60R16).

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Elantra Sedan Sport has standard 18-inch wheels. The Jetta’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Elantra Sedan Sport 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 solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Elantra Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

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

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Elantra Sedan is .4 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Jetta.

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

The Elantra Sedan Limited executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Jetta SEL (27.2 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Elantra Sedan’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Jetta’s (34.8 feet vs. 36.4 feet).

Chassis

The Elantra Sedan is 3.2 inches shorter than the Jetta, making the Elantra Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Elantra Sedan has liquid-filled engine mounts. The liquid helps further dampen engine harshness. The Jetta uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Elantra Sedan a Mid-size car, while the Jetta is rated a Compact.

The Elantra Sedan has 1.8 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front legroom, .3 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta.

The front step up height for the Elantra Sedan is 2 inches lower than the Jetta (13.8” vs. 15.8”). The Elantra Sedan’s rear step up height is 2 inches lower than the Jetta’s (14” vs. 16”).

Cargo Capacity

The Elantra Sedan has a larger trunk than the Jetta (14.4 vs. 14.1 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Elantra Sedan easier. The Elantra Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 27.4 inches, while the Jetta’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Jetta doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

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 Elantra Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Jetta’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

The Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The Elantra Sedan Limited’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

When the Elantra Sedan Limited 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’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Elantra Sedan 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Hyundai Elantra Limited has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Jetta doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The Hyundai Elantra comes in sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Volkswagen Jetta isn’t available as a station wagon.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Elantra Sedan owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Elantra Sedan with a number “1” insurance rate while the Jetta is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Elantra Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Jetta because typical repairs cost much less on the Elantra Sedan than the Jetta, including $448 less for a water pump, $367 less for a muffler, $41 less for front brake pads, $352 less for a starter, $212 less for fuel injection, $253 less for a fuel pump, $220 less for front struts and $109 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Hyundai Elantra Sedan and the Volkswagen Jetta, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Hyundai Elantra outsold the Volkswagen Jetta by over two to one during 2018.

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

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