Winner: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
Hybrids are seldom bought for emotional reasons, unless you’re particularly emotional about paying extra money up front to save fuel over the years you own your car. But some hybrids, such as the new 2014 VW Jetta Hybrid, prove that at least hybrids don’t have to look like a doorstop, which is one of the reasons it gets the win against the ubiquitous Toyota Prius in this Drive This, Not That matchup. It also wins from a drivability standpoint, with strong (for a hybrid) acceleration, decent handling and a gas powertrain that doesn’t sound as droney as that of the Prius in the event that it comes on (it has an “E-drive” mode that allows you to drive on electricity alone up to 47 mph if you’re really gentle on the gas for short distances).
This wasn’t a slam-dunk for the Jetta, though. Both cars’ interiors kinda suck: the Prius still suffers from ergonomic oddities and modest rear headroom, while the Jetta spoils its occupants with hard, Tupperware-grade plastic console and door trim and glazed vinyl seats that are particularly horrifying at the $32,265 price of my SEL-grade test vehicle. And the Prius still boasts 50-mpg fuel economy, versus the Jetta-brid’s 45 mpg rating. Still, the Jetta’s handsome looks, conventional ergonomics and German-car handling put it over the top.
Renowned automotive journalist and gay car geek Steve Siler has turned his life-long love of cars into a fruitful and enthusiastic career traveling the world to test thousands of new vehicles as they are introduced. Siler is s regular contributor to Car and Driver Magazine, Edmunds.com,AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos and Yahoo! Autos, and also pioneered automotive writing for the LGBT community more than a decade ago.