Starting at $18,645 US (to my old Daddy Bear bones, that still sounds like a fortune), the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is a very affordable compact car that can get you around town in a comfortable and affordable way. You aren’t going to win any awards or Brownie points with this car (if those are important to you) but you should be able to make the payments and keep it insured, assuming you can keep a job and keep your mouth shut at work (yeah, I hate that too).
Just to be clear, you do get what you pay for: the interior is not plush by any stretch, and it isn’t trying to be, but it isn’t cheap either. It’s comfortable, and that’s the long and short of it. There is decent room inside for your friends and family when you have to step in for caregiver duty. Should you spill liquids that may or may not embarrass you, they should clean up rather easily. You will be comfortable and sanitary. If you want luxury, even if you go up the trim list to the top-tier 2.0 turbo GLI and pay $29,545 US, you will get some more power and some more class, but if you can afford a $30K car, I’d look at other brands as well and see if something else might work better for you. The beauty of the Jetta is that it is an inexpensive car for someone who is reliable and practical (like you) and still can’t find an employer to pay him what he is worth. Like you.
Performance on the base engine (1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder offering 150 hp) is decent. Nothing spectacular, mind up, but decent. Again, this is not a performance car. This is not the ‘hot dad’ car to show off at Daddy-and-Me camp, nor is it something to woo your next soulmate-for-life, unless he might be intrigued by your sense of frugality and practicality. You can get more power as you go up the trim line, but of course then you pay more. And once you start paying more, you really do want to shop around. At that point (and congrats for having more cash), I would look at the Honda Civic, or even the Volkswagen Passat, a larger car but definitely something to consider.
To be sure, no one is truly raving about the Jetta. Its glory days, I feel, have long since passed and to some it is kind of an also-ran vehicle. It’s still a good car and a good choice so long as, again, ‘practicality and frugality’ are important to you. Volkswagen cars are solid so this one will do you well, especially if you are buying it for an underaged or feeble loved one who you need to offer a wee bit more protection.
Sometimes in the Bear World, we have to make tough choices about where to spend our money. I hate having dinner with friends and they argue over who should pay for the nachos while they see no trouble running up a tab for top-shelf booze at a leather bar. So when it comes to cars, maybe you just need something to get you from Point Gay to Point Bear. The class and style within which you travel may just be not be as important as whether or not you have enough money to see to doctor when you are sick.