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 R on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "Cloth interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very happy with my 2012 Jetta. I owned a 2005 Dodge Neon when I turned 16 and totaled it when I went to college, and after that I owned a 2000 Buick Century and of course neither of those compare! My opinion might be a bit biased since the Jetta is much nicer than my two previous cars, but I don't see my opinion changing anytime soon. Everyone I have known to own a Jetta has absolutely loved it."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By rtrdad on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "quiet, great clutch and shifter feel, good MPG's"
Cons: "smidge more power would be ok, 60K timing belt"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had my Jetta for 2 months. Its my daily commuter. I traded in a 2013 Versa Sedan for the Jetta. I was not in the market for a car but saw VW had a sale in October for 5K off sticker ! My Jetta S 5 speed was 17,700 and I got it for 12,700 plus taxes. It was a no brainer as that was nearly the amount of the Versa. The Jetta is a quiet, steady , sturdy machine. It is not a speed demon but I was looking for the cheapest Jetta not the fastest. The S has lots of bang for the buck like keyless entry with truck release, an AUX jack for the radio etc. The seats are firm but my big body is getting used to them. Fit and finish is superb and even with the 2.0 its a more than adequate interstate cruiser. I wish it had cruise control and an I-pod interface. I average 36mpg and get over 40 on the interstate."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By James on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I can't be more pleased with my car. 42 mpg overall, plus quick enough to be fun. I like the fact that the car leaves a much smaller "carbon footprint" than it's hybrid competition. VW doesn't take weight out of the body to get it's fuel economy so you still have that safe, solid German feel."
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By tkpdc on Sunday, November 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "great gas"
Cons: "not a tough car I feel like it can break any time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We have had this car for 2 years it has devaluated so fast and it's has given so much problems with electrial. I know people are very happy with their Jettas it's sad that we have had such bad experience. We Want get rid of it soon. Their customer service was great."
10 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By Tweetconn on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy, Fun to Drive, Quiet, Quality Driving Feel"
Cons: "Prop rod for engine hood, No engine temp guage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2014 Jetta in March. My 2001 Jetta GL had given me great reliability and good service for 169000 miles and is still running great. After I sold it to a colleague I bought my new one. It has 10000 miles already and has been trouble free. It is roomy and quiet. The exterior and interior are not flashy but then neither am I. There is no learning curve for the controls in the interior. Everything is well laid out and easy to use. The seats are supportive and have lumbar support. The ride is firm but not harsh. The new 1.8 turbo engine is super. It does not use oil. My best mileage is 42.3 mpg but averages 32-34 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The 6 speed automatic shifts down quickly, keeping the rpm's relatively low. All you need to do to accelerate quickly is step on the gas. Trust me, the 1.8 has plenty of power. The SE drives like a larger car. Lots of trunk space too."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By VDubPam on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "So fun to drive, fantastic MPG, comfort, sporty!"
Cons: "Wish the SE had navigation and Fender sound system"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I adore my car. I have a 2014 Jetta SE with connectivity and a sunroof, so I got the one with the updated engine and suspension but not the slightly redesigned front grill that the 2015 has. It took me a while to narrow down cars. I didn't want a vehicle with a CVT and I had good luck with my 1998 VW New Beetle, so I started thinking about returning to Volkswagen. Originally I had my eye on the VW CC but after driving a Honda Accord coupe with a low roof for 10 years and seeing a CC parked next to it with the same sloping low roofline, I decided I wanted more room. I test-drove a Jetta and a Passat during a dealer visit and fell in love with both, but decided the Passat was just too much car for my basic needs; the Jetta was the right size and more sportier. It's one of those cars that looks better up close and in person than in photographs at certain angles. The overall design, apart from the front grill, actually reminds me a lot of its more expensive cousins, the Audi A3 and A4. There's a picture online showing the Jetta and the Audi A4 side profiles and it's hard to tell them apart. It's hard to believe that other reviewers can say this is an uncomfortable car to drive with poor visibility. I find the leatherette seats very comfortable and the ride extremely smooth...going over bumps compared to the rough riding Honda coupe I had previously owned is much easier to take. The room in the back seat of this car is amazing--I would imagine someone 6' or a bit taller would find it comfortable. The trunk is also huge...and yet the car is still considered a compact size; at least, I find it easy to park and back out of spaces. My gas mileage is outstanding. I think I'm averaging around 37-38 mpg and that's with mixed highway and city driving. I also haven't had to add any oil to the engine. The dashboard design is austere and German, but I love it that way...other car brands really go overboard with buttons, knobs, and unnecessary doodads. The radio system in my Honda was a bit crisper, and I wish my SE came with the Fender audio that the SELs get but it still sounds nice and I can't complain. I love having Sirius. I have a cream interior in my car and that makes a huge difference with the dashboard and interior, as it's really two toned compared to the staunch all black interior. With no kids or dogs I don't have to worry about it getting too dirty. My dealer also gave me Monster Mats for the winter months for free. Speaking of winter, I have yet to drive the car in snow...but in the rain, even heavy downpours and going through puddles, I feel safe and it hugs the road. 170 hp may not sound like much, but I find the turbo engine fast with little lag, and don't feel any difference in getting up to speed compared to the 240 hp in my Honda. I read somewhere that VW and Audi tend to underrate the power of their engines. I also have zero qualms about the car being made in Mexico. There's a video on YouTube of the Puebla VW plant and it's pretty clear the company oversees everything...even the car parts located nearby are German companies. This is a very solid feeling car and the doors slam with a heavy "thunk" when you shut them! Besides, I plan on sticking to the maintenance schedule (which is every 10,000 miles/year) and keeping my baby for as long as possible."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful