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Gas Jetta hybrid trumps diesel model

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

The Jetta Hybrid test car was so peppy when starting up from stoplights and in sudden accelerations in city traffic, the driver had to double-check that it was a hybrid. Other gas-electric hybrids don't accelerate this forcefully and they tend to provide a more sedate driving experience.

When pressed, the powertrains of other hybrids can seem to be straining and buzzing loudly to deliver more acceleration. This is particularly true of some hybrids that have continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) that don't have pre-set shift points.

But this new Jetta's 1.4-liter four cylinder has generous and flexible power at the ready.

Even better, in the test Jetta Hybrid SEL Premium, the blending of power from this engine and the 20-kilowatt, onboard electric motor was seamless.

There were no instances of hesitation between the two power supply points.

The seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission in the Jetta Hybrid managed the power delivery expertly, and because it's not a CVT, this transmission behaved like that in a normal car.

Unfortunately, the Jetta Hybrid is so fun to drive, it's easy to creep above speed limits.

In fact, because of spirited driving, the tester never got anywhere near the government's fuel economy ratings. But it still averaged 36.1 mpg. Volkswagen requires premium gasoline in the Jetta Hybrid.

Even with the not-fuel-efficient test drive, the range on a single, 11.9-gallon tank was an impressive 430 miles.

The regenerative brakes that reclaim energy that otherwise would be wasted during braking took some getting used to as they grabbed aggressively.

The Jetta Hybrid's trunk space is notable at 11.3 cubic feet, because this is akin to what's in a non-hybrid, small sedan.

Large knobs to manually adjust front seats on lower-trim models can be clumsy to use for people who don't have a lot of finger strength. Even on the SEL Premium model, seats are covered in leatherette — nice looking but not real leather.

The Jetta Hybrid looks a bit frumpy and not exactly upscale on the outside. The test car never got a single glance from passersby, and the only big clue that is was not a regular Jetta was the hybrid badging.

Still, the Jetta Hybrid rode solidly and was poised and stable in curves.

Some road noise came into the passenger compartment, and passengers felt vibrations from road bumps.

The 2013 Jetta Hybrid received four out of five stars, overall, in government crash tests, which includes five out of five stars in side crash testing.

Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, antilock brakes and six air bags.