By KBB.com Editors
While most auto makers have abandoned their station wagon variants, Volkswagen is plunging head-first into the market with the all-new Jetta SportWagen. Given the daily fluctuation in gasoline prices, coupled with a growing consumer desire to move out of big, gas-thirsty SUVs, VW's timing couldn't be better. Beyond its reasonable price and roomy interior, the SportWagen's most appealing lure can be found under the hood, where three engine choices, including a 2.0-liter diesel – reportedly capable of returning better highway mileage than the current EPA estimate – reside. VW says the diesel model will make up 50 percent of SportWagen sales, with a low-cost five-cylinder and potent turbo four-cylinder comprising the remainder of the expected 14,000-unit sales.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a car with a sporty nature that also delivers good fuel economy and enough cargo room for the kids and family dog, you'll find much to like in the 2009 Jetta SportWagen.You May Not Like This Car If... What's Significant About This Car?
Be it the Squareback, the Dasher or the Fox, station wagons have always been an integral part of the VW line up. The larger Passat wagon sells well, but it can be pricey. With the introduction of the Jetta SportWagen, consumers can get a nice-sized wagon with authentic German performance, a plush interior and a price tag starting below $20,000.Driving It Driving Impressions
Like its sedan counterpart, the SportWagen delivers a driving experience that is fun, controlled and unmistakably German. The taut suspension minimizes body roll and lean, yet delivers a compliant ride regardless of road surface. Acceleration with the 2.5-liter engine is far from exciting, as the engine's flat torque curve precludes it from delivering the kind of gut-punching performance experienced with the 2.0-liter turbo four. The 2.0-liter turbo also benefits from the optional DSG automatic transmission, which requires only a tapping of the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter to deliver rapid-fire gear changes.Favorite Features
2.0-liter TDI Diesel Engine
Although it won't be available until the fall, the 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine promises to be the star of the SportWagen engine lineup. Impressive torque output suggests the TDI will be quicker than the 2.5-liter gasoline engine, and VW speculates that drivers may see better real-world mileage than the EPA-reported 41 miles to the gallon for the highway cycle.
Six 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. Better still, VW plans to offer the DSG on the TDI model.
As with all Volkswagen products, the SportWagen's interior is smartly styled, ergonomically friendly and appointed in the highest quality materials and fabrics. The SportWagen's huge cargo hold nearly rivals that of the larger Passat Wagon, although rear-seat legroom is not as generous. Sun worshipers will love the optional enormous optional panoramic glass sunroof that covers the front- and rear-seat passengers.Exterior
From the front, the SportWagen shares the same prominent chrome grille surround, large headlamps and sloping hood as the Jetta Sedan. But step around to the SportWagen's backside and you'll find an extended roof panel with enough acreage to expand cargo hauling via the large roof rails. There's also a large rear hatch complete with wiper/washer and rear defroster, and available sporty 17-inch wheels give the Jetta SportWagen a less suburban look.Notable Standard Equipment
Standard features on the 2.5L S include a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, heated power mirrors and windshield wiper nozzles, air conditioning, rear wiper/washer, cruise control, keyless remote entry, 16-inch wheel covers, AM/FM stereo with single CD and eight speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control and hydraulic brake assist. The SE trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, Premium audio with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio compatibility and 10 speakers, rear-seat center armrest and leatherette seating surfaces. To this the SEL adds a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, six-speed manual, 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, 115-volt rear outlet, leather seating surfaces and a 12-way power driver seat with power lumbar support.Notable Optional Equipment
Notable options include DVD-based navigation, a six-disc in-dash CD player, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, rear-seat side-impact airbags, panoramic glass sunroof, iPod adapter and 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels. 2.5L S models offer a six-speed Tiptronic automatic, while the SEL and TDI trims can be equipped with the excellent six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG).Under the Hood
The SportWagen's three engine options provide the car with three distinct personalities. The inexpensive 2.5-liter five-cylinder models are peppy, but not what we'd call scintillating performers. The 2.5-liter is clearly geared more toward good fuel economy and adequate power. Although more expensive, the 2.0-liter turbo provides terrific performance, yet its fuel economy figures nearly rival those of the lesser 2.5. The 2.0-liter TDI diesel may be the best choice for the Sportwagen, promising good acceleration and terrific fuel economy.
2.5-liter in-line 5
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (manual), 20/29 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line Turbocharged 4
200 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)
2.0-liter TDI diesel
140 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/41 (manual), 29/40 (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2.5 L S starts around $19,500, while the SE is close to $22,000 and the TDI is just above $24,000. The top-of-the-range SEL starts around $26,500, but can reach over $31,000 when fully loaded. Other brands in the SportWagen's category include the all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy and Outback as well as the less expensive Dodge Caliber and pricier Volvo V50. As for resale, KBB projects the Jetta to be one of the best in its class.