2021 Toyota Corolla vs. 2020 Volkswagen Jetta

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/09

The Corolla has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Jetta doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Corolla’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 Corolla 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, 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 IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Corolla the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Jetta last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Corolla 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Jetta. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the Jetta ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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

There are almost 2 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Corolla’s warranty.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Corolla’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Jetta’s camshafts. If the Jetta’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

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 Corolla’s reliability 62 points higher than the Jetta.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 27th.

Engine

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The Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 22 more horsepower (169 vs. 147) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Corolla SE/XSE SE CVT 2.0 4 cyl. gets better city fuel mileage than the Jetta Auto (31 city/40 hwy vs. 30 city/40 hwy).

Transmission

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

The Corolla 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 Toyota Corolla has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The Jetta doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Corolla stops much shorter than the Jetta:

Corolla

Jetta

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Corolla SE/XSE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (225/40R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The Corolla SE/XSE’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 Corolla SE/XSE has standard 18-inch wheels. The Jetta’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Corolla 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 Corolla has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Corolla flat and controlled during cornering. The Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Corolla XSE handles at .83 G’s, while the Jetta SEL pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Corolla’s turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the Jetta’s (35.6 feet vs. 36.4 feet).

Passenger Space

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The front step up height for the Corolla is 1.3 inches lower than the Jetta (14.5” vs. 15.8”). The Corolla’s rear step up height is 1.2 inches lower than the Jetta’s (14.8” vs. 16”).

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Corolla easier. The Corolla’s trunk lift-over height is 27.1 inches, while the Jetta’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

Ergonomics

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If the windows are left open on the Corolla 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Jetta can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 Corolla’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” 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 Corolla XLE/XSE’s optional 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.

Model Availability

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The Toyota Corolla comes in sedan and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Jetta isn’t available as a four-door hatchback.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Corolla is less expensive to operate than the Jetta because it costs $373 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Corolla than the Jetta, including $413 less for a water pump, $326 less for a muffler, $19 less for front brake pads, $268 less for a starter, $113 less for fuel injection, $90 less for a fuel pump, $222 less for front struts and $93 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/09

Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Corolla as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Volkswagen Jetta isn't recommended.

The Toyota Corolla outsold the Volkswagen Jetta by over three to one during 2019.

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