I bought this car after owning an Audi TT 3.2 6m/t which I loved but it was getting expensive to maintain and fuel up and I needed a family car. An SUV or cross-over were out of the question because I simply despise them and they drive like bricks on wheels. I was not prepared to spend over $30,000 for a new car and it had to be a daily driver with very good fuel economy. Since I will never buy an American car (GM, Ford or Chrysler) or one with an automatic transmission or CVT, a hybrid was out of the question. I had rented a 2012 Jetta Sportwagen 2.5L during a business trip to Seattle and I remembered liking the spacious interior, massive cargo volume (I had to carry 3 coworkers and their bags) , easy and ergonomical controls and above average handling (despite the fact that I had to rent one with an automatic transmission). My 2014 JSW TDI has gone on a road trip from Florida to Pennsylvania and Maryland in October of 2014. I bought the VW roof rack which I installed myself due to extreme ease of installation. The car performed admirably and road noise, even with a loaded roof rack, was not extreme.
When I bought the car, I did a cost benefit analysis of the 2.0 TDI vs. the 2.5L and it did not make sense to lease the TDI over a 36 or 48 month period due to the price of diesel (the premium of the diesel engine would not pay for itself based on fuel economy until the fifth year) in 2014. With the recent plunge of fuel prices, I can pay less than $30 at the pump and drive for 2 weeks before my next fill-up. I regularly get more than 530 miles on a tank (14.5 gallons) of diesel in mixed city/highway driving. Admittedly, I am writing this review after the VW Dieselgate scandal. I did not buy this car because it was touted as a "Clean Diesel"; I bought it simply because the combination of fuel economy, vehicle performance/handling, cargo space, comfort and interior quality/ergonomics is the best I could find under $30,000. I work in an area where dumptrucks and 18 wheelers spew black smoke incessantly. Yes, I am disappointed that my resale value will undoubtedly drop but I am gambling that, with a robust compression ignition engine, I will drive this car until it dies and that will be more than 10 years from now (based on reading reviews on VW TDI forums of other drivers who report very long lives and high mileage on their VW TDI's.
The steering is crisp and responsive and there is slight torque steer evident. It is very easy to park the car and the rear view camera is a handy assistant (even though the car is by no means oversized). I have noted a glitch that sometimes I shift into reverse and get a warning on the screen that the camera is unavailable (shifting into neutral and then back into reverse always recovers the camera functionality). The transmission is easy to shift up and down and the clutch is on the lighter side though "catches" relatively deep. This does not bother me even in city driving as I am used to stiffer clutches though I can see how some drivers could be annoyed in repeated bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Living in Florida, I am not overly concerned about needing winterized diesel or the inherent difficulty in starting a compression ignition engine in colder temperatures, but it is comforting to know that I have not had any issues with the glow-plugs in the first 2 years. The service intervals call for oil changes every 10,000 miles.
Only after buying the car did I realize that it is considered by some to be a "cult" car in the sense that there's a very close-knit community of owners who simply love their JSW's akin to Subaru WRX or Mitsubishi Lancer EVO owners. I do love that you don't see too many JSWs around and I believe I have one of the few JSW TDIs with a manual transmission in Miami (all the ones I have seen have the tiptronic or DSG). A diesel powered station wagon with a manual transmission is a touring car that few people in the U.S. can appreciate more than a CUV or SUV but Europeans certainly understand the wagon's appeal. I am very pleased with this car and would definitely buy a 2017+ Golf Sportwagen TDI whenever VW is able to bring their 4 cylinder diesel engine back to the U.S. market!
Now done 21,000 miles** of mixed open road and LA rush-hour traffic, this has been more fun to drive than I could ever have expected. Free dealer services at 10 and 20k, I decided to have additional oil changes at 5k intervals.
The high torque makes top gear acceleration fun.
People complain of sluggish 1st gear starts - like pulling away from a light or making a left turn across traffic. This can be partly avoided by switching briefly to S-mode, which completely changes the character of the car, but takes its toll in fuel consumption. The hesitant start is a feature of the DSG transmission.
**AFTER 3 1/3 years at 48,000 miles, VW took the car back and gave me just about what I'd paid for it. I have no complaints - it was a great little car. Pity about the emissions. It they had sold it to be emissions compliant, and if it had got 3 or 4 mpg less, it would still have been a great economical car. When not stuck in traffic I never got less than about 43 mpg.
I bought mine used from a dealer with 14,500 miles. The original owner lived in Elko, NV and took very, very good care of the car. It looks, acts and drives like a new Sportswagon. Contrary to the reviews I've read noted herein the drivers seat is extremely comfortable along with the front passenger seat. Not sure about the back seats because I never sit on them. The car is nosier than my 745iL but the bonus is the smooth engine, smooth shifting, and super high fuel mileage. Further, the cargo space is more than adequate for my needs, and the cabin interior material is in accordance with the price of the car. Additionally, the cost was $ 12,000.00 less than a new Golf Sportswagon which has replaced the Jetta Sportswagon in 2016. Thanks for reading, Dennis B.....
Bought this car because we needed something reasonably priced, great mileage, that can haul things around.
First VW we have owned, we have owned BMW, Acura, Honda.
Very happy so far with the purchase.
Excellent driving, very good mileage (over 40 mpg....), plenty big, love the manual, and the turbo diesel.
This car is the "compromise" for those who want decent gas milage and a wagon without breaking the bank. Be prepared to be uncomfortable in the small, hard seats as get your 40 MPG. And it is LOUD, a noise that music can not drown out. Oh well...gotta give to get.