Let’s say you happen to crave the sweet driving experience that only a European car can provide, but need the added space and versatility of a wagon. Come right this way, and let us introduce you to the VW Jetta SportWagen. While both the Jetta and Jetta Wagon have been around for quite some time, the current model really is something special—and even a bit of a bargain.
On the outside, the Jetta SportWagen is handsome, with clean, crisp modern lines. Our bright red SE tester featured the optional 17-inch alloy wheels, and looked quite upscale. Helping make a solid first impression are standard items including dual reflector headlamps, exterior mirrors with built-in turn signals and sporty dual exhaust tips.
VW has been setting the bar for quality interiors in affordable vehicles for some time now, and the Jetta continues the trend. Deep zucchini-cut nacelles hold the main gauges, while a grippy, three-spoke steering wheel feels great to the hands.
A simple center stack with a large LCD screen puts all infotainment features close at hand, and the climate controls are easily deciphered at a glance. What really sells the interior is the quality of the materials—the vinyl surfaces are soft, nicely grained and look very high-end. Even the leatherette on the seats looks quality. It just gives you the feeling of money well spent.
If you’re buying a wagon, you obviously want space, and the Jetta proves to be comfy for five with plenty of room in back. Drop the rear seats and you get an impressive 66.9 cubic feet of cargo space, roomier than a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 wagon.
Also impressive is how well this wagon drives. It has that smooth, well-oiled feeling of a high-performance German machine. The super-silky 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder sounds and pulls like an Audi, yet gets you 30 mpg on the highway. The optional Tiptronic lets you manually shift for added driving fun. The ride is firm and well controlled.
The best part is all this lovely European stuff is quite affordable. Our nicely equipped SE model included standard goodies like Bluetooth, Sirius Satellite Radio, alloy wheels and leatherette upholstery. Adding in the optional Panoramic Sunroof (highly recommended) and 17-inch alloy wheels brought our tester to just over $25,000. For eco-minded buyers, the TDI diesel wagon is worth a look, with an amazing 31 mpg city/ 41 mpg highway EPA fuel economy.
A European driving experience combined with style, room, quality and affordability (they even cover maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles) all add up to make the VW Jetta SportWagen one great all-around vehicle.
By Ben Lewis, Contributing Editor, autoMedia.com