- The 170-horsepower engine provides merely adequate acceleration, and the gas mileage, rated at 25 mpg in city driving, 34 highway is so-so among its competitors.
- Handling is not as agile or precise as in the previous Jetta, with more "body lean" on corners.
- The brakes are mediocre: "Stopping distances were long enough to be disappointing for an SUV, let alone a small car."
- The interior has gone from stylish and comfortable in past models to cheap-looking: "All of the interior plastics are hard to the touch and the various textured-plastic trim pieces look tacky."
Here is a closer look at those.
Hyundai Elantra: The redesigned Elantra is the only one of these sedans to make the CR Recommended list. Test drivers praise the Elantra (at left) for most of the issues where it faulted Jetta: nimble handling with little body lean in corners, a well-equipped and neatly laid out interior, superior braking and high gas mileage (rated at 29 mpg city, 40 highway). Elantra list prices before options range from $14,495 to $20,195.
Chevrolet Cruze: General Motors' new compact car, which sold strongly in the first quarter, got a Very Good CR rating but did not make the Recommended list. Test drivers praised the Cruze (right) for its handling, ride and braking. They tested two versions and preferred the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine (rated at 26 mg city, 36 highway) in the upscale LT version ($20,530 including options) over the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (24mpg city, 36 highway) in the LS version ($18,375 including options). The review noted that the relatively heavy weight of the Cruze hampered acceleration and gas mileage, though CR's drivers did not test the Cruze Eco, tweaked for the best mileage and rated at 28 mpg city, 42 highway.
Scion tC: This sporty coupe from Toyota's youth-oriented brand gets praise for its responsive handling, good acceleration and precise manual shifter. Like the Chevy Cruze, the tC (at left) gets a Very Good rating but is not on the Recommended list. Rated at 23 mpg city/31 highway, the tC list price ranges from $18,275 to $19,275 before you add options.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers
More from MoneyWatch:
- Gas Prices: The Cheapest (and Priciest) Cars to Drive Now
- New Tax Would Penalize Electric Cars for not Using Gas
- Auto Makers Scramble in the Wake of Japanese Disasters
- Auto Insurance Costs: Where does Your State Rank?
- Used Cars: Avoid These Most-Stolen Models
- Auto Insurance: Which Cars Cost Most and Least