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 Frank K on Saturday, September 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fair price, great mileage & interior comfort."
Cons: "Still looking for one-I'll get back to you..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife and I could see in the showroom that the 4-door Jetta had more rear seat legroom than virtually any car we've ever had, yet it has the smallest wheelbase. While snooping brands and dealers I stumbled onto the diesel version in internet reviews and the most eye-popping thing that jumps out at you is that the mileage numbers on the side windows you see on all new cars are UNDERSTATED for the Jetta. Our car is 30/41 but I'm reading and hearing from people that this car can get 50+ on the highway before we bought it. So with that and some other solid attributes going for it, we bought the diesel version. Our local driving number since buying has been at or near 40 since day one. And the new clean diesel is the most underappreciated option you will find on any new car lot in the USA. Much less long term maintenance, among other advantages. I'm still looking for something bad to say about this car. Well, trips to the gas station aren't as numerous as they once were, assuming you like shelling out $50 more rather than less often. One problem that diesel engines have had in the past is starting in frigid temperatures but the service guy told me that can be easily handled with gas tank additives available at auto stores. The interior is well laid out, and the standard rear back-up camera is a gift from auto Heaven. I shudder when I think of the money we've wasted on cars over the years that sadly lacked the overall quality and value of our Jetta. And no--I don't have a relative at the dealership and I don't own any VW stock."
16 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By Mike on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive, Well Equipped, Sporty"
Cons: "High Depreciation, Expensive Maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Pros: This car is good for a good professional just starting out in the work force. It was four doors making it ideal for daily living. The sporty features on the car make sure you do not get bored on your daily commute. The turbo makes sure you can have a bit of fun on the weekend. They car comes nicely equipped. Cons: The depreciation is greater than that of its Honda and Toyota counter parts. The repairs and replacement are more expensive than its Japanese competition; however, cheaper than its German competition."
11 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By JJ on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pleasure to drive"
Cons: "40,000 mile maintainence is pricey$$!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"If you are driving a lot and need room this is a very good car for mileage, handling, and roominess."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Phil on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"One of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Recent trip from mich to Florida. I 75 driving At 70 mph. Got 55 mpg. Only thing I have a problem with is the navigation system. But them I'm not a big tech person Overall my jetta premium tdi with navi for the k Last two years. Has been fantastic"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By rpauls on Sunday, August 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Seats, steering wheel, build quality (feels solid)"
Cons: "Highway acceleration, higher speed cornering."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought in early 2014 with 3,000 miles, now has 22,000 miles . Very nice car for it's purpose. I am an outside sales rep and the car's clean, handsome lines represent me well at this price point (inside has received compliments as well, I suspect the seats help). I have received many compliments on its looks. Inside, I have the leatherette seats and they are very comfortable. Steering wheel is wonderful. Driving experience is mixed. Accelerates well in town, but the I-5 struggles when at freeway speeds and want to accelerate to make a lane change or merge. Will go to "S" mode often. Fuel mileage is better than expected on the highway, not so great in the city (this might be because of my city driving habits, frequent stops at businesses). Handling is adequate at best in tight cornering, not assuring. Otherwise, nice ride with new tires I just put on. Did handle one of the roughest Wisconsin winter's on record last year with no issues (did well in snow, ABS was setup just right, heater was great, never any stress starting, never a rattle) and that earned a lot of respect from me. Car feels solid as a brick. Despite some mixed driving experience issues, I really like the car and plan on getting another VW in the future, likely a TDI or turbo depending on price. A nice car to spend a day in."
4 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Jake on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,802overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "solid , safe, great price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"they say the 2.0 l is slow, I didn't buy this as a Porsche it gets around town just fine and on the interstate it cruises at 80 miles p/hr. with the best of them, and plenty of pedal left, very pleased with the handling& brakes."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful