Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Review

2013 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI Wagon Exterior

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While the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is a fairly new nameplate, the Jetta itself has been a favorite for decades among consumers looking for German engineering at a budget price. With its upscale cabin and sophisticated ride, the Sportwagen certainly looks and feels like a German luxury car. And, of course, being a wagon, the Sportwagen can carry plenty of stuff. With about 67 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, this Jetta is roomier than many compact crossovers.

If it seems as if the current VW Jetta Sportwagen looks more like a Golf than a Jetta, your eyes aren't deceiving you. That's because Volkswagen has redesigned the latest Jetta, while only recently revamping the Sportwagen. That means the Sportwagen remains more closely related to the previous-generation Golf/Jetta. Considering that the latest Jetta has become more mainstream and less sophisticated, we'd say the Sportwagen is the better all-around Jetta.

Current Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
The current Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is available in S, SE and TDI trim levels. The S and SE models are powered by a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder. A five-speed manual is standard with this engine, while a six-speed automatic is optional.

The Jetta TDI features a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine that utilizes VW's clean diesel technology, making this car compliant with all 50 states' emissions requirements. The diesel produces 140 hp and a healthy 236 pound-feet of torque, and yields up to 41 mpg on the highway. A six-speed manual or VW's DSG dual-clutch automated manual are offered for the TDI.

The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen sets itself apart from domestic and Japanese economy sedans by offering a distinctly European interior and feel to the driving experience. In many ways, it's a smart alternative to heavier and less efficient compact crossovers. Not only does the Jetta provide better handling, but its cargo space is generally on par or better. Small wagons are now few and far between, but the excellent Jetta Sportwagen doesn't really leave you longing for different choices.

Used Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen Models
The current Jetta Sportwagen was introduced for 2009 and is related to the previous-generation Jetta sedan. This relationship was greater in the first year when the chassis tuning, interior and front-end styling were identical between sedan and Sportwagen. This first year also included an SEL trim, which featured a variety of luxury items like a fully powered driver seat with lumbar adjustment and memory functions, dual-zone climate control and upgraded speakers. It also had the 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the GTI.

For 2010, the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen received many of the same changes carried out that year to VW's Golf/Rabbit. The body shape, interior volume and powertrains were essentially left alone, but VW improved the interior, retuned the suspension and made minor exterior styling changes. As no changes of note have occurred since, this Sportwagen and those that followed are essentially identical to today's version.

The fourth-generation Volkswagen Jetta was available in a wagon body style from 2001-'05, though it wasn't known by the Sportwagen moniker. It was an entertaining car to drive, and like the current model, had top-notch materials quality and ample safety features. Scant rear-seat legroom was its major shortcoming. Although reliability has been spotty, a fourth-gen Volkswagen Jetta is still a good buy on the used market if its service history checks out clean.

As the base 2.0-liter engine offered weak acceleration and mediocre fuel economy, we recommend getting a fourth-generation Jetta with the excellent turbocharged 1.8T four-cylinder introduced to the wagon for 2002 that produced 180 hp. The diesel-powered Jetta TDI was also offered in all but the first model year and provided mileage in the 40s. The 1.9-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder initially produced 90 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque and was upgraded to 100 hp and 177 lb-ft for 2004.

Read the most recent 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen page.

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