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What’s Hot And What’s Not in the 2019 Volkswagen Lineup

What to Buy and What to Stay Away From When it Comes to Volkswagen in 2019

Updated September 16, 2018

Despite ending in headlines for all the wrong reasons a few years ago, Volkswagen’s global sales haven’t been affected. In fact, they’ve actually grown. The dieselgate scandal shook the very foundations of the auto industry and brought to light a number of similar cases – one of which saw Mitsubishi’s fortunes decline due to faked data that was supposed to help them meet specifications. The result of that saw the Japanese brand’s stocks plummet and the division itself subsequently got absorbed by the Nissan-Renault alliance. But we’ve digressed – we’re here to dissect the 2019 Volkswagen lineup.

As mentioned above, the largest German automaker (and one of the traditionally largest car manufacturers in the world) has managed to market as much as 10.7 million vehicles in 2017 which amounts to more than a 4 percent increase compared to the heavily dieselgate-affected 2016. The Volkswagen Group, however, consists of a number of brands including Audi, Porsche, and Bentley among others. The Volkswagen brand alone is also on its way to recovering, and not just on a global level. Most major regional markets, including North America, are seeing a rise in sales compared with previous years. Volkswagen has managed to market 339,676 vehicles in the U.S. during 2017 which is slightly more than a 5 percent increase compared to 2016 when they had marketed 322,948 cars. The 2017 result is still shy of their 2012 record of 438,134 sold vehicles, but it’s safe to say the German brand will keep posting positive yearly changes for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Volkswagen’s future in the U.S., the Germans have finally delivered the long-awaited and dedicated three-row Atlas SUV to the people. Furthermore, they’ve completely redesigned the compact Jetta sedan and announced the introduction of the sporty executive Arteon fastback. Coupled with their standard offerings ranging from the iconic Beetle and the versatile Golf lineup, over the mid-size Passat sedan, to the already-established Tiguan crossover, Volkswagen USA offers a wide range of products fit for most U.S. buyers’ tastes. Let’s take a look at what the upcoming Volkswagen models form MY 2019 have to offer.

What’s Hot In the New 2019 Volkswagen Lineup

04. 2019 Jetta

In short, the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is as conservative as it always was, but there’s definitely more to it than meets the eye. First introduced back in 1979 with a special emphasis on the U.S. market, the Jetta has gone on and made it to the seventh generation for MY 2019. The fully-redesigned Volkswagen Jetta may resemble its predecessor, but it’s slightly larger than the 2018-year model. Its wheelbase has been stretched by almost 1.5 inches, which has naturally translated to more legroom for rear passengers. The new Jetta also rides on a new MQB platform that’s been underpinning the remainder of the Volkswagen family for quite some time now. All in all, the next-gen VW Jetta is a truly modern compact sedan with an upgraded interior which offers a good value for money. However, the entry-level models starting from $18,500 don’t have that much to offer. The high-end features are reserved for upper tiers – especially the $24,500 SEL and the range-topping $27,000 SEL Premium which both come with a 10.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster and a Beats audio system.

For the time being, every new Volkswagen Jetta (including the top SEL Premium models) will be exclusively available with the 147-horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and either an 8-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. This powertrain is enough to ensure the new Jetta can at least travel at a healthy pace, but it’ll never be considered fast. This will be the job for the Volkswagen Jetta GLI which should arrive in time for MY 2020. Meanwhile, one of the biggest upsides the smallish turbo four has to provide is its fuel economy. The 2019 VW Jetta is rated at up to 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway which is an increase of as much as 7 mpg in a single category over the outgoing model. Unlike before, the next-gen Jetta now boasts a number of categories in which it easily outclasses its rivals. While still not as exciting as the Golf, the new Jetta takes one huge step in the right direction.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta front 3/4 view

03. 2019 Arteon

Although available overseas since 2017 as a more upscale successor to the Volkswagen CC, the Arteon fastback hadn’t made it stateside until now. The new Volkswagen Arteon will finally be offered in the U.S. come MY 2019, and it should occupy the flagship car spot within the Volkswagen lineup. After all, the Arteon was built with entry-level luxury in mind. The four-door fastback will be available in three trim levels – SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. The entry-level will offer forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts from the get-go. Moreover, every Arteon will also come with an 8-inch touchscreen display and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The upper echelon models will only build upon an already generous package with a power liftgate, available 19-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning. The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon’s prices haven’t been announced yet, but anything less than $35,000 is probably wishful thinking as things stand.

Like its European counterparts, the U.S.-spec Arteon, too, will draw power from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine worthy of 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of twist. Apart from having only one engine on offer, the Arteon will also come with a single choice of transmission. Power will be routed to the ground via an 8-speed automatic gearbox, but at least we’ll get to choose between the front and all-wheel drive. It’s safe to assume the Germans will only build from the aforementioned, but an engine lineup expansion might not be in the cards at all. The four-banger is both powerful and efficient enough as is and the only way to go from here would be a more powerful optional V6. That, of course, is something the VW brand does offer in its top Passat and Atlas models, but it’s also worth noting they rarely rely on six cylinders these days. More will be known closer to release date sometime during the last quarter of 2018.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon front 3/4 view

02. 2019 Atlas

Alongside the above mentioned Arteon, the Atlas is another all-new Volkswagen model on sale in the U.S. The mid-size SUV with seating for seven has been met with much enthusiasm when it first arrived during MY 2018. The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas only continues paving the way the vanguard models have already trodden. The largest VW vehicle currently on offer boasts ample of space for both passengers and their cargo – even with the optional third row. Some of its competitors, on the other hand, fail to offer that kind of a package. Moreover, the Atlas rides and feels lighter than its size and weight would suggest, and it offers a number of neat seat tricks that are usually perks of much smaller cars. Every single Atlas (and there are a total of 12 different trim configurations at the moment) offers standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a standard rearview camera and a top-notch infotainment system on an 8-inch screen. The entry-level S models do get a smaller 6.5-inch touchscreen display, though. The optional extras, on the other hand, include an automatic emergency braking feature, lane-keeping assist, 12-speaker Fender audio and more.

Most of the 2019 Atlas models ordered will be powered by a 3.6L V6 engine capable of producing 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. They can be optioned either with a front or all-wheel-drive, and tied to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The entry-level Volkswagen Atlas S, however, only comes with a 2.0L turbo four that develops 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and can’t be optioned with the VW 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system. Regardless of a choice of engine, every VW Atlas exhibits plenty of power, but neither excels when it comes to acceleration. The Atlas is simply heavier than most of its competitors and, as such, earns the lowest acceleration figures in its class. Then again, the intermediate 7-seater SUV wasn’t built for drag racing, and for a car that starts from just under $31,000, it’s a perfect choice for families whether they need a cargo or people hauler.

Volkswagen Atlas front 3/4 view

01. 2019 Golf GTI

The ever-popular Golf hatchback has been with us since 1974. Currently in its seventh generation, the Golf is getting ready for a complete overhaul. And while the conventional models are now outdated, the hot GTI version of the car seems to be unaffected by advancing years. The definition of hot hatch – the Golf GTI has always been highly sought-after among this niche’s buyers. The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI might be the last German automaker’s GTI hatchback in quite a while since the new generations often tend to start things slowly. Although there are more powerful choices on the market, few manage to balance between fun and practicality as the Golf GTI does. Apart from having a more potent engine, the GTI differs from conventional units thanks to a number of minor sporty aesthetic tweaks, both inside and out.

Speaking of its engine, the Volkswagen Golf GTI for MY 2019 draws power from a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four that’s making 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of the trim level of choice, the Golf GTI always comes with a standard 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. Needless to say, both are great. Starting from $26,500, the Golf GTI offers good value for the money, even though it’s pricier than most of its competitors. The top-performance Golf R, for instance, starts from $40,000, and still doesn’t offer class-leading performance. Bear in mind that the GTI can creep up close to that figure as well, seeing as the range-topping Autobahn trim costs at least $35,000. Despite riding on seven-year-old underpinnings, the VW Golf GTI is still worthy of consideration.

Volkswagen Golf GTI front 3/4 view

What’s Not In the New 2019 Volkswagen Lineup

04. 2019 Passat

The Volkswagen Passat finds itself at the bottom of many mid-size sedan-relevant categories. Running on the same architecture since late 2011, the Passat is currently the most outdated car in its class, and we all know how competitive the family mid-size sedan segment can be. With the next-gen models just around the corner, the 2019 Volkswagen Passat will be the last of the B7 models. Despite being outdated, conservative, not overly fuel-efficient, not exactly upscale, and not tech-savvy enough, the Passat does have a few upsides, which we believe helped it find 60,722 new owners in the U.S. in 2017. It’s slightly more spacious than most of its competitors, boasts a fine ride quality, and gets the job done. Starting from $23,000, the Passat is slightly more expensive than its rivals, and that’s probably the biggest reason its sales have halved since 2012.

The not-so-new Volkswagen Passat can be ordered in a number of trim combinations, but it comes with only two available engines. Most people will order it with the base 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that’s good enough for 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Those in need for more power, on the other hand, will be glad to know it can also be optioned with a 3.6L V6 mill that cranks up 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Another proof the current-gen Passat is past its prime is the fact it only comes with a 6-speed automatic that sends power to the front axle. We expect the next-generation to rectify most of the current Passat’s shortcomings, but until that happens, it’s probably better to opt for something else. Or sit patiently and gamble on the next-gen model which certainly can’t get any worse.

Volkswagen Passat front 3/4 view

03. 2019 Beetle

One of the most iconic cars in automotive history remained virtually unchanged during its long and productive lifespan. Very little was changed from the visual standpoint during 65 years of production and more than 21.5 million units. Then, in 2003, the old VW Beetle was finally put to rest, but not before the Germans produced a modern variation to fill the void. The new Volkswagen Beetle was available between 1998 and 2010 and was replaced by the even more contemporary Beetle A5 in 2011. The latter of the two is still guarding the original people car’s legacy, but won’t be doing so for long. The Germans have already announced the modern Beetle’s discontinuation without developing the replacement. The 2019 Beetle should be one of the last opportunities to get yourself this perky little coupe (or convertible) at an affordable starting price of around $20,500 for the hardtop and of around $25,500 for the soft-top counterpart. The popular “Bug” will slowly be phased out in a few years, and with only around 15,000 units sold in the U.S. these last few years, it would seem the phasing out has already begun.

The Beetle will, however, bow down in style judging by the all-new Final Edition models which draw inspiration from similar editions of the original Beetle from 2003. The ultimate Beetle models will be offered in Safari Uni, Stonewashed Blue, Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, and Platinum Gray paint jobs, for both the coupes and convertibles. It’ll be limited to the SE and SEL (added specifically for the occasion) trim levels which dictates the level of amenities and tech equipment available in them. Other than that, the Final Edition VW Beetle doesn’t differ much from the remainder of the oddball compact’s lineup.

Regardless of chosen trim or body style, there’s only one engine beating under the Bug’s shell (this time in front, of course). A 2.0L turbocharged inline-four is good enough for 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of rotational force. It pairs exclusively with a 6-speed automatic transmission, thus depriving us of the opportunity to order one with a manual. Needless to say, the A5 Beetle isn’t very fuel-conserving for its class either, and it also fails to impress in a number of different ways. Lack of room aside (after all, the Beetle was designed with that flaw in mind), the “new” Volkswagen Beetle fails to offer high-tech electronic safety systems that are slowly becoming mandatory even in budget cars. At best, you’ll get a standard rearview camera, optional blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors. The latter two are standard from the mid-range Coast and on the range-topping Dune trim respectively.

Volkswagen Beetle Dune front 3/4 view

02. 2019 Tiguan

The second-generation VW Tiguan had only recently arrived to the U.S. even though it’s been available overseas since late 2016. It mimics the remainder of the Volkswagen lineup’s design language which puts it among a conservatively designed bunch according to the majority consensus. Despite riding on a new, modern chassis, The 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan still fails to impress in a number of important categories. Being the company’s smallest crossover, the Tiguan was expected to deliver a competitive fuel economy, but it doesn’t. It also doesn’t offer any advanced safety gear in its entry-level trim. Available with a short compact and a long mid-size-ready wheelbase, the Tiguan at least offers a choice for buyers with specific needs. The long-wheelbase Tiguan is much larger than its predecessor but it’s also not as fun to drive. On the other hand, it offers an optional third row of seats, albeit you’ll only be able to fit children back there. The new Tiguan does offer a smooth ride, though, which isn’t exactly a common quality in its class.

The Volkswagen Tiguan makes do with a single available powertrain for MY 2019 which, however, comes in two different tunes. The long-wheelbase Tiguan gets 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, whereas the smaller model still squeezes out 200 ponies and 207 lb-ft. The difference is; the latter still relies on the previous generation’s technology, which might be phased out altogether in the following year. The good news, however, is that the new Tiguan benefits from an improved 8-speed transmission which diverts power to either the front or all four wheels. There’s not much the Germans could do to improve things, but including some active safety gear at a lower price would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Volkswagen Tiguan front 3/4 view

01. 2019 Golf

Introduced in 1974 and surviving through seven subsequent generations since, the compact Golf is the German automaker’s go-to car in, more or less, every market they do business in. The seventh-generation Golf is nearing its end, though, which should make it less desirable. U.S. buyers, however, seem to disagree, as the Golf’s sales reached their 30-year record in 2017. The Germans have marketed as many as 68,978 units during that period which is their best result dating all the way back to 1986. The Mk7 Golf can thank the Americans and their newfound love for hatchbacks for that. Also, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf comes in many forms including the electric e-Golf, the performance GTI and R models, and the Golf wagon among others. With no lack of available options to choose from, the compact and practical family car should continue to exhibit a steady increase in sales. But for how long?

The 2019 Golf will be mostly carried over which usually translates to the powertrain department as well. Not this time around, however. Before the next-gen arrives (likely during MY 2020), the current models will ditch the old 170-horsepower 1.8L turbo four engine that’s already been replaced with a more contemporary 2.0L unit. Instead of getting the GTI’s 2.0L unit, new conventional entry-level FWD Golfs that start from around $21,000 will use a 1.4L turbo four mill taken from the Volkswagen Jetta sedan. This will set them for a loss of almost 23 horsepower, but they’ll boast a much better fuel economy in turn from now on. Both the SportWagen and Alltrack wagons are also offered with the outdated inline-four which pairs with either a correspondingly old 5-speed stick or a 6-speed auto. They too are scheduled for this unexpected engine swap. Furthermore, the mentioned 5-speed manual is finally being replaced with a 6-speed unit across the range, whereas the 6-speed automatic option gets replaced by a new 8-speed unit.

The timeless Golf GTI was already mentioned among the “hot” Volkswagen models, whereas the e-Golf and Golf R represent the upper echelon of the lineup and cost between $30,000 and $40,000. For that amount of money, the former offers up to 116 MPGe, while the latter delivers as much as 292 horsepower of sheer fun on wheels. The austere and somewhat neglected conventional models probably aren’t worthy of consideration at the moment, though, despite the recent powertrain updates, wheres the range-topping models simply cost too much.

Volkswagen Golf front 3/4 view

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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much.

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