I’ve long been a fan of the Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan for its comfort, performance, safety, numerous features, and especially its affordability.

For the 2013 model year, the five-passenger Jetta lineup has been expanded to include a hybrid model that includes everything I love about the Jetta — and more.

With a base price starting below $25,000, the Jetta Hybrid maintains the nameplate’s comfort, performance and safety features, enhancing it with an EPA fuel economy rating of 42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway and a combined overall 45 mpg.

What’s not to love?

A 1.4-liter turbo I-4 engine as well as a 27-horsepower electric motor powers the Jetta Hybrid, delivering a combined 170 horsepower and 184 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that allows the driver to operate in pure automatic (“D” mode) or shifted manually. There is also a sport setting (“S” mode).

The electric motor can be used to boost power output, or in all-electric “E-Mode” to provide zero-emission operation at speeds up to 44 mph.

Because it is a hybrid, you never plug it in. The battery is constantly being recharged by the vehicle’s operation.

When you start the car, it is in electric only mode. The gas engine automatically and seamlessly kicks in at speeds above 37 mph (44 mph when E-mode is selected), or when the driver steps down on the accelerator in driving situations when more torque is desired. And it is extremely responsive with a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds. It also has an electronically limited top speed of 125 mph. While I didn’t come anywhere close to verifying that stat, I have no doubt whatsoever the Jetta Hybrid is capable of reaching that speed.

Like the other gas- and diesel-only models in the Jetta lineup, the Jetta Hybrid handles like it’s on a rail.

It is also loaded with a full line of standard safety features, including Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System, which unlocks the doors and turns on the hazard lights as well as shutting down the fuel system in certain types of collisions.

The base Jetta Hybrid ($24,995) features Bluethooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and six-speaker audio system.

The Hybrid SE ($26,990) adds LED taillights, keyless access with push-button start, and premium audio system with color display and media-device interface with SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

The Hybrid SEL ($29,325) adds 16-inch wheels, power sunroof, navigation and heated seats.

The SEL Premium ($31,180) adds Bi-Xenon headlamps and active front-lighting system, foglights, 17-inch wheels, rearview camera and Fender audio system.

For those in the market for a compact sedan, the 2013 Jetta Hybrid is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2013 Volkswagen

Jetta Hybrid

5-seat compact sedan  

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

Base, SE, SEL,

SEL Premium

PRICE RANGE:

$25,000-$32,000

ENGINE:

1.4L turbo I-4 with 27 horsepower electric motor

(Combined output of 170 horsepower/184 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

7-speed automatic

EPA: 42 mpg city, 48 mpg highway (45 mpg combined)

FUEL: Premium unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

Electronic stability control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 182.8 inches

WHEELBASE: 104.4 in.

WIDTH: 70 inches

HEIGHT: 57.2 inches

WEIGHT: 3,312 lbs.

TRACK: 60.7/60.9

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 11.9 gallons

TIRES: 15-, 16-, or 17-in.

CARGO: 11.3 cubic feet.