2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 5-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/33 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

  • Pretty much in a class of its own, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is a great alternative to a variety of vehicles, thanks to its versatility and available diesel engine.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Cavernous cargo space; very good fuel economy with TDI; upscale cabin; comfortable seats; refined ride.

  • Cons

    TDI's premium price.

  • What's New for 2012

    There are no significant changes for 2012.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Beware the abs module failure

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

July 3, 2014 on I-5 in Los Angeles, the ABS module failed on our 2011 Sportwagen TDI. The module controls the power steering, a/c, brakes, airbags, etc... We get off the freeway, and drop off car at McKenna VW in Cerritos. Problem diagnosed July 5, and I'm told the repair will be $3200. Service rep tells me to call Customer Care. I do this and start a case #. Four days later, I get a call - VW will contribute $700. "And we don't have to do a thing, since you're out of warranty," I am told. The car has 50,000 miles on the odo. 12 July - we finally get a call that the car is ready. $1860 is the final bill. Took VW 5 days to get ABS module from Texas to California.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Is this a typical vw

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

This is my first experience with a VW. While I love to drive it and the gas mileage is great, I have had 3 repairs since my warranty expired. First my hatchback latch broke. At 41,000 miles a glow plug had to be replaced. Lastly, the car quit on me at 49,00 miles. The fuel injection pump failed and there were metal shavings in the fuel line. Apparently there is a technical bulletin for the 2009 model. Thankfully VW of Pasadena paid for the replacement at no cost to me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Fuel injector #5 replacements and

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

All started in the winter at about 58k. Bought care used with 34k. Got it for the gas milage as i drive 100 miles highway/ day. Check engine light came on, took it i , vw said had to replace fuel injector. Less than a month later, was in for 2nd fuel injector replacement. Vw didnt think anything abnormal about 2 going bad. Less that a month later car back in twice because of ANOTHER FUEL INJECTOR, and the key ignition switch (locks click on and off when car pulls to a stop). 2 weeks ago, check engine late on AGaIN, VW international said they sent the dealer a faulty one, and they are replacing on that was already replaced 2 months ago. Guess what happened today, after only driving 600 miles.

Wv still has work to

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

Overall, it's a decent car that gets great fuel mileage, but we've had multiple problems where the 3 year old car has left us stranded. Radio was replaced twice, paint is peeling near the driver's side door, flapper valve failed (warranty was extended on this part), and now we get the Immobilizer Active error where the instrument cluster has failed. It's not a car I would buy again. Not so sure I would buy any VW product again as my sister has had nothing but problems with her two VWs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

An excellent all round car

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

I've had the car for 3 years now. Used it for pretty much everything -> Haul cargo ( 500+ miles ), furniture from ikea. With the rear seats folded, i was able to completely assembled computer table in it. Although i wish the car was a little wider. Commuter car -> I use it to commute 30+ miles daily and it is a quiet and smooth ride. the standard seat heaters help in winter. The car was covered under the factory free maintenance until now, so i haven't had to spend any extra money on it. The car averages 28-32 mpg ( city - highway ) for me. The highway ride is smooth and comfortable. I haven't spent any money on repairs so far and have 45K+ miles on it.

I'll miss mine forever...

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

I had my 2010 Sportwagen for only 10 months. It was totaled in a recent head-on accident. The car held together remarkably well and we were not hurt. Mine was purchased used in Jan. 2013. We had no problems except for the AC which wasn't cold enough. My car even had navigation and upgraded wheels which I wasn't expecting. I've had a very satisfying ownership experience with this car especially at 41mpg. It was everything I expected and more. I plan to buy another one in a few years. I rather liked having the only one around in my town. The Tornado Red color always drew attention and we received many compliments on it.

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 33
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Review

What's New for 2012

There are no significant changes for 2012.


Compared to old-school sport-utility vehicles -- and even more modern car-based small SUVs -- the compact 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen offers much of their practicality without the significant disadvantages. The result is a vehicle with significantly greater fuel efficiency and a nimble and fun-to-drive character that those physically larger vehicles can't match.

If it seems as though the Jetta Sportwagen looks more like a Golf than the Jetta sedan, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That's because Volkswagen's two Jetta body styles only share basic components now; the sedan was recently redesigned to be more mainstream but less sophisticated and upscale. In our opinion, that leaves the Sportwagen, which pretty much carries over unchanged from last year, the all-around better Jetta. The fact that it offers more total cargo room than small SUVs like the Chevy Equinox and even Volkswagen's Tiguan is another point in its favor.

The real difference between the Sportwagen and a crossover is the driving experience. With a lower center of gravity, a European-tuned suspension and a choice of lively engines under the hood, the Jetta Sportwagen is hands-down the more enjoyable vehicle to drive. The fact that the clean-diesel TDI model manages to return hybrid-like EPA fuel economy estimates of up to 42 mpg on the highway doesn't hurt either.

If the idea of a small, sporty wagon sounds appealing, you frankly don't have many choices nowadays. That makes the 2012 VW Jetta Sportwagen all the more desirable, although it also makes it more of an alternative to those aforementioned crossovers and a number of compact sedans and hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Mazda 3. To whatever you compare the Sportwagen, though, we're confident it'll stack up well.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is a five-passenger wagon offered in S, SE and TDI trim levels. The Jetta sedan and related Golf hatchback are reviewed separately.

The entry-level S model comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails, keyless entry, heated mirrors, heated windshield-washer nozzles, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, heated front seats with a power-adjustable backrest, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an adjustable front armrest, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The SE and TDI add 16-inch alloy wheels (optional on S), "leatherette" premium vinyl upholstery, upgraded gauges, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel and a 10-speaker audio system with a touchscreen interface, satellite radio, HD radio, a six-CD changer, an iPod interface and steering-wheel controls. A panoramic sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels are packaged together as an option on both the SE and TDI. A navigation system and keyless ignition/entry can be added to that package for the TDI.

Powertrains and Performance

The front-wheel-drive VW Jetta Sportwagen S and SE are powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S, while a six-speed automatic is optional on the S and standard on the SE. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with the manual transmission and 24/31/26 with the automatic.

The Sportwagen TDI is powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder good for 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automated manual transmission known as DSG is available as an option. The latter features a Sport mode that quickens shifts and performance. Fuel economy is an impressive 30/42/34 mpg with the manual transmission and 29/39/33 with the automatic. In Edmunds performance testing, a Sportwagen TDI with the DSG automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds.


The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen comes with a long list of safety features that includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side-impact airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a Sportwagen TDI with 16-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 129 feet.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Sportwagen received the top score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

In a rare case of the original being better than the "new and improved" version, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen offers an interior that's noticeably nicer than the more recently redesigned Jetta sedan. Materials are top quality, with soft-touch plastics and handsome metal trim. Even the premium vinyl "leatherette" upholstery in the SE and TDI models looks and feels a lot better in person than its description might imply.

The cabin also earns high marks for user-friendliness. Engaging audio and climate controls is a straightforward matter, as is operating the optional navigation system. The navigation system does lack some functionality compared to other systems, though, due to its smallish screen.

As far as occupant comfort goes, the Sportwagen's interior offers a good amount of room up front. The backseat is a bit tighter, but not objectionably so. There's also a surprising amount of cargo-carrying capability here, with 32.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 66.9 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded down.

Driving Impressions

While the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is no sports car, it's certainly a lot more fun and responsive to drive than similarly practical small SUVs. The steering feels precise and handling is respectable, though the suspension allows enough body roll to put a bit of a damper on enthusiastic driving.

In terms of everyday motoring, the Jetta Sportwagen offers a comfortable ride and a relatively quiet interior. TDI models are light-years ahead of the diesel-powered passenger cars of decades past, though this powertrain does generate a bit more vibration and noise than the gasoline engine. But in our opinion, the TDI is the way to go thanks to its combination of snappier acceleration and outstanding fuel economy.

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