VW Jetta versus Dodge Challenger: Brains versus muscles


MASCULIN, FEMININ | Volkswagen’s Jetta, left, has heart.

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

What kind of guy are you? Do you go for the gregarious, muscle-bound jock with a kind heart (like the Dodge Challenger Hemi) or the introverted gent with smooth style and efficient manners (the VW Jetta 1.8T)? That’s the dilemma, automotively speaking, of whether you get in bed with a butch love or one that’s ever-so-femme. Maybe these attributes will help you make your decision.


MASCULIN, FEMININ | Dodge’s Challenger tears up the road.

Family tree:
Challenger: He’s got the looks of a 1971 Dodge Challenger, but the undercarriage of a Mercedes E-Class. The HEMI is pure Americana, even if it’s part of the big Italian Fiat family.
Jetta: Essentially a proletariat Golf with more junk in the trunk, Jetta dates to the 1970s. It’s as German as the Graf Zeppelin.

Cruising power:
Challenger: It’s no Hellcat, but the 485 horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI will blow your hair back. Get it with the 6-speed manual transmission that delights both wrist and ankle.
Jetta: Sip the 170 horsepower 1.8-liter turbo-4 like dark chocolate whiffed through honey air. The 5-speed manual clicks and kicks.

Big appetite:
Challenger: You’d think the Challenger would eat like a Hummer, but returns 14/23-MPG city/hwy.
Jetta: Clearly on a regimen of diet and exercise, the Jetta rolls 25/37-MPG city/hwy.

Best asset:
Challenger: Have you seen its hood shake from behind the wheel? Arrrr!!!!
Jetta: I could tooth the waffle-pattern seats all day. Yummm….

Challenger: The cartoon “super bee” clinging to the front fenders and stitched into the seats.
Jetta: A Bentley on a Greek plutocrat’s budget.

Greatest talent:
Challenger: Clearing the left lane! You don’t want that grille up your ass.
Jetta: Streaming down the Interstate at triple-digits buttoned to the pavement. Its demure styling intimidates nobody, the big bottom.

Dating ritual:
Challenger: Revs up its engine, turns off stability control, and lays black streaks from Monday to Sunday. You’ll wanna do it!
Jetta: Twinkles its eyes, spools up its turbo and chirps the front wheels from brunch to lunch. You’ll wanna lick it!

Fancy chassis:
Challenger: Track Pack screen lets drivers configure the throttle, steering, and traction control for different drive modes. Fancy, dude!
Jetta: Has a 4-wheel-independent suspension and a steering wheel. And, it all works fine, thank you very much!

Challenger: You can control satellite radio, media player and navigation by easy-to-use touchscreen, redundant controls below or by voice. Alpine’s 506-watt audio will cause your neighbors to leap into their pools.
Jetta: How do you like a radio with last-generation iPod connector and Bluetooth? Fender speakers are divine, but our base speakers were still beguiling.

Comparing equipment:
Challenger: With that long of a hood and buff muscles, you’d think he’s compensating for something. Same with the 20-in. wheels, but it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.
Jetta: It’s always the small quiet ones with the biggest… heart. Those 16-in. wheels are no rocks, but it has all it needs.

Alter ego:
Challenger: Michael Sam — big and beefy, but a debonair sweetheart beneath it all.
Jetta: Vito Cammisano — don’t judge him by his looks, he has the athletics and style to reel in the big guys.

Big checks:
Challenger: To get the power and pleasure offered by the Challenger Scat Pack, dig in for at least $37,895 ($46,880 as tested).
Jetta: Or, cuddle up with the classically understated and surprisingly affordable Jetta SE 1.8T for $17,325 ($19,815 as tested).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2015.