I prefer a manual transmission so I had to get the base S model. (No sunroof, No chrome around the side windows) Previous car: Audi A4 Avant Quattro 1.8T. I had to give up AWD and auto climate control :( The Sportwagen build quality is not quite a clean, there is some sub par assembly of a few interior pieces. After 1 week I'm very happy with the car. Brakes, engine, transmission and clutch/shifting are all strong points. The construction feels solid. Handling good. Suspension good. 4th and 5th gear are tall, lowering the RPMs. The 5 cylinder engine is smooth and up to the task. FYI - It feels like the car has a large flywheel. The engine is slow to rev and decelerate.
Updating my May 2013 review Great seats for long drives. Excellent lumbar support. I'd like full power seats, but at least the power seat back adjustment is a great idea. Mileage: Great. Recent trip: Palm Springs to Oakland: 35.5 mpg. Marin to Ventura counties: 37.5 Ventura to Palm Springs: 39.5 This is not the TDI, so although I'd love the additional power of the turbo, the excellent mileage has compensated for the 2.5. Bluetooth works well, although I did have to have the dealer pair my phone to it. They were happy to do it and I have to say that VW service has been excellent from VW of Palm Springs.
I am really very impressed by the features and value of the base model Sportwagen S. If you are looking for an upscale interior and a large cargo area, there really isn't another vehicle that compares. It is comfortable to sit in, drives very well, and comes equipped with virtually all the features one would look for in a daily driver.
There was one manual S available in all of Southern California when I was in the market. While I loved the response of the TD, I just couldn't justify the additional $5-10K. Plus, I live in the desert, so I really don't have any desire for a sunroof. This car replaces a 2009 Subaru Forester, a reliable yet gas guzzling AWD, with no power & awful seats. I don't regret not spending the extra $ for the diesel because I'm consistently getting 33-35 mpg/hwy, 26-28mpg/city. I drive 60/40 hwy/city. After 5 months, with 5K miles, I'm thoroughly enjoying this car. Though this is as basic a Sportwagen as one could probably find, I got a lot of car for a very reasonable price.
Incredibly surprising and much more than expected.
written on 10-15-2012
I took possession of a 2013 VW Jetta Sportswagen S on 10/13/12 and to say that this is my favorite drive out of all the vehicles that I've had would be an understatement. Being a brand loyalist I have had a VW through the ongoing phases of life starting with a Golf, passing through the Tiguan, and now my first wagon. The 2013 S Automatic Wagon feels like a well crafted luxury ride without the luxury price tag. The interior is comfortable, functional, and spacious. The exterior is sleek, with clean lines and a European look. The car is 170HP and 177 pounds of torque with a tiptronic (sport mode included) transmission that is simply fun to drive. Weekend trip 238 Miles on 1/5 tank of gas.