By Thom Blackett for Cars.com
In recent years, the Volkswagen Jetta — and other VWs — has been recognized for, among other things, its varied selection of gas and diesel engines. There have been four-cylinders, a proven five-cylinder, turbocharged gas and diesel offerings, and even a VR6 six-cylinder tossed in for good measure. With that, the introduction of the 2013 Jetta Hybrid shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
And yet, to some, it does. Logic would suggest the new hybrid variant would directly compete with, and quite possibly siphon sales from, the impressively fuel-efficient diesel-powered Jetta TDI, which has sold well with few discounts.
Volkswagen says that won't be an issue. According to company executives, the 2013 Jetta Hybrid "will attract new customers who don't consider the TDI to be a legitimate competitor to hybrids." Those same shoppers might still have negative connotations of diesel, or maybe they don't want to hunt for gas stations carrying the fuel.
To get a firsthand look at the Toyota Prius' newest competitor, I attended a Volkswagen media event in Santa Fe, N.M., where I drove a midlevel Jetta Hybrid SEL and a top-of-the-line Jetta Hybrid Premium. Models will arrive on dealer lots by late December with a starting price of $25,790, which includes a $795 destination charge.