2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Review | Buyer Guide


This Wagon is Sporty

Wagons seem to be making a comeback, but they are not called station wagons any more, they’re called sport wagons. In many instances, these cars aren’t very sporty. However, that’s not the case with the Jetta SportWagen. This is a practical car that an enthusiast can enjoy.

The SportWagen is a new model in the Jetta lineup for 2009. It retains all the fine qualities of the Jetta sedan, but adds a measure of utility by doubling the storage space. The wagon will hold 32.8-cu.-ft. of your treasures behind the backseat, and nearly 70 cu.-ft., when the backseat is folded down. Additionally, a fold-down front seat is also available, so you can carry long items, like a ladder.

Volkswagen offers the SportWagen in three levels of trim, S, SE and SEL. My silver SE test car came with a charcoal interior, and leatherette seats. The seats were well bolstered for sporty driving, and featured a low-luster finish with pebble-grain texture that matched the finish on the dash. There was plenty of room for a tall driver like me, and a seat-height adjuster for those short in stature. Rear-seat passengers have sufficient room too, and sit a little higher than those in front for a good view of the road.

The SportWagen comes with a choice of three different engines— a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder that delivers 170 hp, a 2.0-liter turbo four, with 200 hp and a 140-hp diesel, with an impressive 236 lb.-ft. of torque.

My test car had the base engine, hooked up to the optional six-speed Tiptronic automatic. (A six-speed manual is standard.) Quite frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from this drive train, but I came away favorably impressed. This engine pulled strongly, and worked well with the Tiptronic.

The Tiptronic is a marvelous transmission that enables the driver to get a lot out of the 2.5-liter engine. One can engage the “Sport” mode that will hold the transmission in gear longer, or the “manual” mode that allows you to change gears at will. Either way enhances the Jetta’s performance. However, if you really want more oomph, the two-liter turbo is the way to go.

Behind the wheel, the Jetta impresses with its solid feel and sporty handling. The steering is precise, and conveys a good feel of the road. The well-tuned suspension enables the wagon to negotiate twists and turns with speed and agility. Strong brakes haul the Sportwagen down from speed without drama.

The ride is moderately firm and well controlled. Large bumps do not upset the Jetta’s poise, or rattle the teeth of its passengers. The only complaint I had with the SportWagen was that there seemed to be more road rumble conveyed into the cabin than I expected. This is a small drawback, in a car that is otherwise very enjoyable to drive.

Pricing for the Jetta SportWagen starts at $18,999. My SE test car, with automatic transmission, had a sticker price of $23,099. The EPA gas mileage rating was 21-mpg in the city—29-mpg on the highway.

Snapshot Review

Lots of Cargo Space
Decent Power (2.5-liter engine)
Sporty Handling

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