2015 VW Jetta 1.8T SEL - Upgraded Trim Makes a BIG Difference

NOTE: Our guest writer Tim Esterdahl drove the 2015 VW Jetta SEL and highlights here the differences between the SEL and base trim levels.

When VW designers and engineers set out to build the Jetta, they had several challenges including using their current design trend, setting up the powertrain for the vehicle size and adding enough features to attract U.S. buyers. The SEL package is the penultimate of the base models and it is very, very good.

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Jetta SEL review

Jetta SEL interior

Jetta SEL dash

Improved Interior

One of the critical knocks on the VW Jetta is the somewhat spartan interiors. These interiors, from an auto journalists point of view, lack the features found in competitor models. While this is a fair argument, the driving dynamics of VW products blow away the competition. For VW buyers, they put a fun driving experience above interior amenities. With the SEL package, you get it all.

What makes the interior so much better? Beyond the styling, soft-touch dash materials and the 6.33 inch touch screen display with navigation - the keyless entry, push button start/stop and sunroof bring it even with competitors.

All of these features come with a price; this upper tier’s MSRP is around $8k more than the base. The amount of additional features you get, along with the interior upgrades, better powertrain and the sharp 17” Joda alloy wheels all make it worth it.

Jetta SEL engine

Larger, More Powerful Engine

Another choice buyers have is between engines. The SEL buyer gets access to VW’s 1.8L turbo-charged four-cylinder engine. This engine puts out 170 HP which is more than plenty for the sedan.

In fact, using the Sport mode setting, the Jetta 1.8T accelerates really well and is pretty fun to drive. This powertrain combined with VW’s driving dynamics makes it a great choice for those looking for a fun driving experience without the sports car price.

Fuel economy is good as well with an EPA estimated 36 highway and 25 city.

In the end, the upgraded engine, the plusher interior and the amount of features makes the SEL trim the package to get. It transforms the Jetta from 'just OK' to 'holy cow!' and is exactly what VW designers and engineers designed the car to really do.

Jetta SEL rear

Model: 2015 VW Jetta SEL

Engine: 1.8L Turbocharged, gasoline

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

EPA Fuel Economy: 25/37/30 MPG city/highway/combined


  • Driver Assist Package - $695

Price as Tested: $26,895 with $820 destination charge