By KBB.com Editors
While many people prefer the rugged look and elevated ground clearance of a small SUV, there are still a number of drivers who prefer a traditional car-based wagon. For these few die-hard loyalists, Volkswagen builds the 2012 Jetta SportWagen, a midsize wagon based on the last generation Jetta sedan. As roomy inside as any Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the 2012 SportWagen goes a step further by offering superior ride and handling, as well as the option of a very fuel-efficient 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine. In TDI form, the Jetta SportWagen earns an EPA-estimated 42 mpg highway (although most drivers report getting better mileage over time) with the manual transmission.
If you need more cargo versatility than a sedan can offer, but you don't want to give up sedan-like ride and handling, the 2012 VW Jetta SportWagen makes a great compromise. Fuel efficient with either the gasoline or diesel engine, the SportWagen won't make you cringe when it comes time to refuel.
A wagon is still a wagon, and some may prefer the cool look of the Golf TDI hatchback to the Jetta SportWagen's "soccer mom" image. Those who need better ground clearance and/or all-wheel drive might be happier with the VW Tiguan.
A new SE with Sunroof package is offered on both the gasoline and diesel models, while a Sunroof and Navigation package is available only on diesel-powered Jetta SportWagens.
Driving Impressions Although the 2012 VW Jetta SportWagen still rides on the old 2010 VW Jetta sedan platform, it is in no way antiquated or less fun to drive. As one would...expect from a German-engineered car, the Jetta SportWagen is a great driver's car. The firm suspension keeps body roll to a minimum without impinging on a smooth ride, even over rough or broken pavement. The 2.5-liter engine doesn't deliver thrilling acceleration, but it gets the job done and returns respectable fuel economy. If you can afford the extra cash, go for the 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel. It has gobs of torque giving it GTI-like off-the-line acceleration, and it gets great fuel economy, with a projected highway range of over 600 miles on a single fill-up. Another advantage unique to the diesel Jetta SportWagen is its excellent DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) automatic transmission. The 6-speed DSG requires only a tapping of the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter to deliver rapid-fire gear changes.
2.0-LITER TDI DIESEL ENGINE
The Jetta's 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine promises to be the star of the SportWagen engine lineup. Impressive torque output suggests the TDI is quicker than the 2.5-liter gasoline engine in some instances, and VW reports drivers may see better real-world mileage than the EPA-reported figures of 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway.
6-SPEED DIRECT-SHIFT GEARBOX (DSG)
During stop and go traffic the DSG is a smooth shifting automatic. But when the road gets twisty, the DSG can be operated just like a manual transmission, only without the need to operate a clutch pedal.
We've always been a fan of VW's interior styling, and the 2012 Jetta SportWagen is no exception. Smartly styled with high-quality materials and brightly lit instrumentation, the SportWagen's roomy interior feels almost Audi-like. A vast cargo hold behind the second row should please those who carry lots of gear or have large dogs. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rear-seat accommodations, which are a bit snug in the legroom department. The 2012 VW Jetta SportWagen's vast panoramic glass sunroof covers both front and rear seats, allowing everyone inside to enjoy sunshine and fresh air. Sadly, many of VW's the best features, such as the Dynaudio stereo, power driver's seat adjuster and leather seating, are not offered on the 2012 Jetta SportWagen.Exterior
Although it shares a nameplate with the Jetta sedan, the 2012 VW Jetta SportWagen still rides on the previous-generation Jetta platform. Its sloping hood, swept back headlamps and 2-bar grille are shared with the current Golf/GTI, but the similarities stop there. The SportWagen's extended roof allows for much more cargo storage aided by the factory roof rack. A wide rear liftgate allows full access to the roomy cargo area and is fitted with a rear defroster, wiper and washer. Available 17- inch alloy wheels help wake up an otherwise modest wagon design, as do the optional ground effects and 18-inch black alloy wheels.
Standard features on the 2.5 S include a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, heated power mirrors and windshield wiper nozzles, heated front seats, air conditioning, rear wiper/washer, cruise control, keyless remote entry, 16-inch wheels, AM/FM stereo with a single-disc CD player and eight speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, and hydraulic brake assist. The SE trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, a 10-speaker Premium touch screen audio with 6-disc CD changer, MDI (Media Device Interface) iPod adapter, HD radio capability, and satellite radio with limited complimentary service. To this the TDI adds a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 115-volt rear outlet and a multifunction steering wheel with audio controls.
SE trims can be equipped with a panoramic sunroof, while the TDI SportWagen can be outfitted with the panoramic sunroof and navigation. 2.5 S and SE models offer a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic, while the TDI trim can be equipped with the excellent 6-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG).
The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen's two engine options provide the car with two distinct personalities. The 2.5-liter 5-cylinder models are peppy, but not what we'd call scintillating performers. The 2.5-liter is clearly geared more toward a lower price point, good fuel economy and adequate power. The 2.0-liter TDI diesel, on the other hand, may be the best choice for the 2012 Jetta SportWagen, promising good acceleration and terrific fuel economy at a reasonable price.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual), 24/31 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg (manual), 29/39 mpg (automatic)
By Passing lane on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Efficient and fun to drive"
Cons: "Hurts right knee rests against the center console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"While still new, I believe VW has designed and build a great car for this purpose. I like the capacity-carrying of a wagon, and yet has tight handling of a sedan. Great fuel efficiency, power, smooth cruising. I'll check in before 100k for an update."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By TW on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I was first looking for a car upon taking an outside sales position I needed the following: great on fuel mileage, would keep up with 25-30k miles annually, easy to maintain, and was overall looking for an affordable option. My 2012 Jetta TDI has not let me down, currently just under 80k miles in my two and a half years of owning it and am so happy with my purchase that I'm looking at getting a Passat TDI now. I drive anywhere from 1-3k miles per month for my job, being able to get 600 miles on a tank highway commute is a timesaver! Best tank to date has been 46 mpg, but usually hover around 41/42 mpg with 80% highway / 20% city driving. Pros: bottom line is fuel mileage!, maintenance only every 10k, quality sound system for the size of vehicle, leg room is adequate compared to other cars in class, great handling, and fun to drive with the turbo, manual shift is butter smooth Cons: Initial purchase price of diesel (break even point is usually about 100,000 miles), maintenance can be a bit pricey (but is only every 10k), doesn't handle great in snow, interior isn't as nice as is past models, leather quality isn't the same as the premium models"
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Noel50 on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Exceptional fuel efficiency, sure-footed handling."
Cons: "Poor traction in snow, road noise."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I initially leased this 2011 TDI Sportwagen then purchased it at lease-end (36 months).Overall, it has been incredibly economical (44 mpg hwy/31 overall) and reliable. It is comfortable (I'm 6'2") with an adequate sound system (not great). My only knock on the car is that it is not snow-friendly. The vehicle came with Continental tires that were toast within 32,000 miles. I then added Michelin "Defender" all-season tires thinking it would improve snow handling. It did not improve snow handling much at all. Assuming you do not need to count on in in a snowstorm, it is well worth the price."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Kody on Friday, February 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,680overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well priced, solid handling, nice interior space"
Cons: "Some issue with this year model axle?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought the car as my first personal vehicle (no parental aid either financially or advisory), was more than satisfied with the experience. Was able to finance it on my own, and for the age I was, the car did wonders for me in terms of reliability, and the quality was just top notch in terms of mechanical composition. Fantastic vehicle for Interstate travel and around town travel."
26 people out of 46 found this review helpful
By john karr on Friday, January 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"bought a Jetta 2015 tsi. driven 8 hundred miles.Car rides good and has good power Handles well. Miss having a temperature gauge and fog lights.Interior is quite, solid.Because car is new waiting to see how reliability will be"
30 people out of 57 found this review helpful
By kyle on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I absolutely loved my 2009 Jetta Wolfsburg (2.0T) but it was getting high miles so I thought I'd trade it in for the new Jetta. In hindsight, I really wish I had kept my MKV. This new MKVI style feels dumbed down and the quality is not nearly up to par with the MKV. Cheap plastic dash, versus the soft touch before. Leatherette feels much more rubbery that before. Then engine note makes me feel sad compared to the MKV. I still can't find a really comfortable seating position even after a year of owning it. The radio in this car is by far the worst I've heard of any car I've owned. The MKV had 10 speakers which put out some really decent range. The MKVI has 6 speakers that sound worse than a Fisher Price walkie-talkie. Even after upgrading speakers, the sound just isn't satisfying and all the doors have rattled the entire time I have owned it. I'm sure I could think of more but I won't bother. As soon as I break even, I'm trading it in, maybe sooner."
13 people out of 28 found this review helpful