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 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."
By harve on Thursday, January 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, roomy and economical."
Cons: "Needs a few more ponies under the hood"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Jetta gives you the interior space of a Mercedes C class with the price of a Korean car. The handling is best in class. The warranty was best in class. The 2.0 liter engine is rated at 114hp, yet you can stay with traffic with no problem, and you can wind it out without stressing the engine. I have exceeded epa gas ratings of 24 and 34 with 28 and 37 mpg. The interior is spacious and comfortable, with the rear seat folding flat for cargo and a trunk you can put a couple of bodies in. Included is a full size spare. No inflation kit or compact spare. The car is fun to drive, period."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Copper on Sunday, January 11, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, good styling"
Cons: "Sluggish engine and transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this car for nearly one year. Driving is sluggish with the entry-level engine. Fuel economy is not as advertised. First VW purchase and likely my last. Not impressed."
7 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By pat on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "truly over priced"
Cons: "cheap plastic interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Inferior interior, old fashioned look. Drives well, peppy great mileage, but why pay for diesel. Engine is quality, but overpriced maintenance and failure of many small components make it an overpriced purchase. Extended warranty is quite overpriced. I will return to Toyota."
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By CK on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Bought the Sportwagen TDI primarily for the fuel efficiency; having driven a number of TDI Golfs in the UK and getting over 65 mpg ('real' gallons!). A bit disappointed that with the US version I only get about 49 mpg (US gallons - or 56mpg UK gallons); we previously had a Fiat 500 and got 45 mpg. Further problem is the alloy wheels; having had the first service at about 6000 miles we were told that all four needed replacing/repairing at over $1000/$650; we have a VW Beetle with steel rims and use it alternatively on the same routes with no issues (and have had cars with alloys before, never with any problems) - maybe a size of car to rim problem - certainly the rims really aren't fit for purpose... . Despite these issues, it's okay (would have preferred a Passat wagon - but they stopped selling those in the US). It drives well, has good acceleration."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jason on Friday, December 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "peppy, good mpg, roomy"
Cons: "reduced quality from previous years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We typically LOVE our VW's and have owned several over the years...and now our kids own them as well. I has been several years since we purchased our last new Jetta and I can tel you that we have been quite disappointed in the "cheapening" of the car. They have made several reductions in quality and convenience that are greatly missed from our previous models. Hidden truck hinges are a thing of the past for VW, opting instead for large intruding hinge arms so I can no longer pack my trunk full. Gas struts on the hood have been replaced with a prop rod. Engine temp gauge is missing, which we watched all the time to determine when the engine was warm enough to turn the heat on. Leather is no longer an interior option, and it doesn't get nearly as good a fuel mileage as our last Jetta TDI (we got 49-51 consistently for over 400k miles, new car has yet to break 41mpg) If it weren't for the mileage of the TDI (even at the reduced milage it's still better than most out there) we would have opted for a higher quality vehicle. We LOVED our previous Jetta, we tolerate this one."
23 people out of 47 found this review helpful