By KBB.com Editors
While most auto makers have abandoned their station wagon variants, Volkswagen has plunged head-first into the market with its 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 two frugal engine choices, including a 2.0-liter diesel – reportedly capable of returning better highway mileage than the current EPA estimate – reside.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 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen.You May Not Like This Car If...
Even Volkswagen can't make the station wagon as cool as the GTI. Style-conscious drivers seeking a third-row seat or all-wheel drive will be better off in a crossover SUV.What's New for 2010
The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen receives a revised front end (borrowed from the new Golf), an upgraded interior including a new instrument cluster, air conditioning controls, and a host of new features. SE and TDI trims feature Bluetooth phone connectivity as standard equipment, while the base S trim gains a 60/40 split rear seat with center armrest passthrough. The turbocharged SEL trim is no longer available.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 found in the GTI. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel, however, offers great low end torque and feels as quick as the gasoline 2.5-liter, but with more off-the-line guts. It 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
The 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine promises to be the star of the SportWagen engine lineup. Impressive torque output suggests the TDI may be 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.
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.
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 enormous optional panoramic glass sunroof that covers the front- and rear-seat passengers.Exterior
From the front, the SportWagen shares the same sleek new grille, large headlamps and sloping hood as the all-new Golf/GTI twins. 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- and 18-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, heated front seats, 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, 10-speaker Premium touch screen audio with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio with limited complimentary service and leatherette seating surfaces. To this the TDI adds a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, six-speed manual transmission, 115-volt rear outlet, multi-function steering wheel with audio controls and 16-inch Bioline alloy wheels.Notable Optional Equipment
Notable options include DVD-based navigation, rear-seat side-impact airbags, panoramic glass sunroof, MDI (Media Device Interface) iPod adapter and 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels. 2.5L S and SE models offer a six-speed Tiptronic automatic, while the TDI trim can be equipped with the excellent six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG).Under the Hood
The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen's two engine options provide the car with two distinct personalities. The 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 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 SportWagen, promising good acceleration and terrific fuel economy at a reasonable price.
2.5-liter in-line 5
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 (manual), 23/30 (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), 30/42 (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base 2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen 2.5L S starts around $20,000, while the SE is closer to $24,000 and the TDI is just above $25,000. A fully loaded TDI tops out around $30,000. Other brands in the SportWagen's category include the all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback as well as the less expensive Dodge Caliber and pricier Volvo V50. As for resale, KBB projects the SportWagen to be one of the best in its class, with the TDI diesel leading the pack.