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 Matt6251 on Sunday, August 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Good Looking, stock speakers rock."
Cons: "hard to work on, cheap interior."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I owned a 2008 Cobalt and I am disappointed I did not look into Jettas sooner. I am very impressed with the handling. I would of liked to see more quality on the inside of the car. I have switches going into my dashboard area and my accessory plug in the back is broke. Great looking car its got sport but it also has luxury. I can't say I haven't got looks while driving it around town. The seats are so comfortable you can sleep in them. I lay back the seats and I am out in 5 minutes. It has not broke down on me yet (knocking on some wood right now). The only thing I am afraid about is the cost of repairs because of the fact not even walmart sells the air filter or windshield wipers for it."
By MobileMike on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Low-key styling, fit and finish, fuel economy"
Cons: "Bluetooth system, it isn't given to your at birth."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is one of those cars where you have to own it to appreciate it and I have through every one of the last 95,000 miles. The Sportwagen is a great mix of everything. The panoramic roof is fantastic and being able to close the shade with the oversized sunroof open is a great pleasure. I opted for the 6-speed manual on the TDI model and haven't regretted it a bit. Fuel economy is excellent, and driving it is a pleasure with a solid and safe feel. In regards to technology, there is just enough of it. The touchscreen radio is included with or without navigation. Nav isn't worth getting these days as our smartphones typically have superior navigation to any car system. Using a smartphone with the bluetooth system however isn't exactly a pleasure. The ambient noise on the handsfree system makes calls sound a little distant on the other end and create havoc when using Siri. That aside, streaming bluetooth audio works well and radio is just over the line of "good" in regards to sound quality. If own a Toyota or Nissan you probably will think this car doesn't have enough tech; but at the same, if you own a Toyota or Nissan you also probably shouldn't be allowed to make your own car buying decisions. Interior fit and finish is, for the most part, very good - certainly one of the best for under $30k. The vinyl seats don't look fake and the optional rubber floormats are a perfect fit. Styling overall is very unoffensive. When you show up in a Sportwagen it isn't like showing up in a car, most people won't judge you by it. It's nice, but it isn't flashy and gives off the same vibe as a Ford Explorer - you just kind of 'appear' in it, which is great. On top of everything, it is useful! The seats fold completely flat and quite a bit will fit in there, even more than will fit in a Tiguan. Overall, I have never regretted purchasing this car. The fuel economy is great, the body style is useful and it is just a pleasure to own and drive."
7 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Helipilot2 on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Durability and reliability of a Diesel engine."
Cons: "Higher maintenance cost."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I am really enjoying the Jetta TDI. It handles very well in bad weather conditions and it feels like it is bullet proof. One of the downside is the cost of maintenance. It's a little high..."
8 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Joby on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,500overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Cons: "No more vw."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had to replace brakes at 37,000 miles at a cost of $400. After owning vw's for so many years I thought they would help me but they blew me off. I usually get at least 60,000 miles out of my brakes, but it wasn't the pads but the brake assembly, which are still rusty. I will never buy a vw product again. I had other problems before this and the dealer took care of it but my family has gone to Honda and they are very service oriented and helpful."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jake on Friday, August 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,300overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great driver"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"pick up is more than enough, highway noise minimal, great handling and braking. I love that tight euro feel."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By glhtroy on Friday, August 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a TDi and I get 38-40 mpg combined city Hwy. It is very comfortable and roomy even with a child seat in the back. Large trunk and even the base stereo is good. I would buy another and highly recommend for commuters who car pool or just dont want a small car."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful