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 Alex on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,600overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "0 percent finance for 60 months"
Cons: "HIGH cost of ownership."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This requires 91 octane gasoline. Which is not sold in the US. On the advice of my salesman, we put 89 octane. My valves are now "dirty", and require a $1000.00 to $700.00. Based on my internet research, this is normal for this car."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Grandpa Bill on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a grandpa in my 60s but I love cars and have owned many brands and styles including sports and convertibles. The Jetta TDI with the manual shift I have is fantastic. It is quick and nimble because it is light and has the turbo and the manual and it is actually fun to drive. But it is still a four door family car. I haul grandkids and there is plenty of room for three in rear; the trunk is huge about 15+ cu.ft- and the seats fold down, you can put big long stuff in there. I have Nav, Blue tooth, leather, good sound, power driver's seat, all for about $26k. I love BMW 3 series, but this car is 1/2 the price and a great value. But main reason for owning this car is the mileage. On diesel (yes it costs more) I get 30mpg combined and 40+ highway. I fill up a couple times a month and can go 450-500 miles on a tank."
By Chuck on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value"
Cons: "Slightly rough ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Quicker than it looks especially in sport mode, disappointed it's not 4wheel disc although brakes are more than adequate huge trunk interior well laid out"
By Shotgun on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel mileage, 6 speed transmission, OK performance"
Cons: "OK performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fuel mileage is great. Summer in combination of city and highway is always right around 45mpg. Winter - due to reformulated diesel fuel - is at about 42. Minimal maintenance and great dependability to date. My brother-in-law owns an earlier year's version and recommended it to me. Couldn't be much happier. Acceleration could be a bit better but I consider it a reasonable trade off for the great fuel mileage. I regularly cruse at 70/75 with no issues about stability or drift; obviously made for the autobahn. I'd love to own (and be able to afford the gas) a 1969 Dodge Charger with a 440 but given the realities of the day, this is an excellent choice."
By Pick251 on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "See review!"
Cons: "Lacking AWD & 8 spd. DSG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned this car for nearly three and a half years, and, although there have been some relatively minor issues here and there, I think this is an excellent car on many levels. Given the complexity of the engine and transmission, as well as many other attributes, I think this car offers a great deal of value for the money. It is beautifully designed and thought out. Furthermore, it blows away the competition in fuel mileage. It does better in the city than advertised and on occasion even on the highway, depending on various factors. Of course the Prius V does well and has almost as much room, but has nowhere near as much torque, which is very evident in the summer in hilly terrain with the car packed full of wife and children and the accompanying accouterments. My personal best in this car is 44 on the highway, and it regularly returns about 32 in the city. Overall, I'd say it averages around 37-38mpg. This is based on miles driven divided by fuel burned, and not the computed figure given on the instrument panel. It would be nice if the car were a little wider and the rear seats were a bit roomier. It would really be outstanding if VW offered the Passat All-Track TDI Sportwagen here! Anyway, I find it astonishing that there are people out there who cant or wont give this car its do. It has plenty of power for the intended application, and I've had no issues with it in the snow. The OEM Continentals were excellent, and my current set of Michelin MXM4 Primacy may only be marginally better. Bottom line... if you love Diesel efficiency and torque, combined with a relatively sporty handling, plenty of cargo space, and beautiful lines, then you'll appreciate this car."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Joe on Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving Dynamics is very good"
Cons: "Poor quality such remote and bluetooth"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"CAR WAS PURCHASED AT THE END OF NOV, 2013 AT THREE COUNTY VOLKSWAGEN IN NJ. TWO ISSUES WERE NOTICED THE NEXT DAY: (1) REMOTE ONLY WORKS VERY CLOSE TO THE CAR. (LESS THAN 10 FT) (2) BLUETOOTH AUDIO STREAMING FUNCTION NEVER WORK PROPERLY MORE THAN 10MINS. CAR WAS SENT TO DEALER AT DEC 30. I WAS TOLD FEW DAYS LATER: A) NEW PART NEED TO BE ORDERED AND HAD NO IDEA HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT; B)MORE THAN 12 PEOPLE WERE IN THE WAITING LIST FOR THE BACKUP CAR. I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TOOK MY CAR BACK SINCE I NEED A CAR TO COMMUTE. AROUND JAN. 10, I WAS TOLD NEW PART WAS RECEIVED AND CAR WAS SENT TO DEALER AGAIN. FEW DAYS LATER I WAS TOLD ISSUES WERE NOT SOLVED AFTER REPLACING THE PART AND FURTHER ASSISTANCE WAS NEEDED FROM VOLKSWAGEN. I WAS TOLD THE ASSISTANCE FROM VOLKSWAGEN STILL DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM AND ‘OTHER KIND’ OF FURTHER ASSISTANCE WAS NEEDED FROM VOLKSWAGEN AT JAN. 16. I HAD TO WAIT LONGER. I WAS TOLD ‘OTHER KIND’ OF FURTHER ASSISTANCE FROM VOLKSWAGEN DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM NEITHER AND THE DEALER HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY CAN DO EXCEPT WAITING. I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TOOK MY CAR BACK AGAIN. TILL NOW, THE CAR HAS BEEN IN DEALER MORE THAN 3 WEEKS WHICH I ONLY HAD OWNED THIS CAR 8 WEEKS, AND THESE ISSUES ARE STILL THERE."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful