I know, as soon as you heard the title of this story, you clicked to something else. I get it, but for those that like things like Presidential/Vice Presidential debates or arguing with the Middle Eastern man behind the bullet-proof plastic at the corner Stop-n-Rob about the outdated ads for one dollar packs of Marboro’s in the window, appease me please and listen for a couple of minutes here.
Like minivans, wagons are NOT dead, despite what you may have heard. In fact, they are our Western European neighbors’ crossover/SUV and here’s why: It gets the fuel economy of a car, is maneuverable like a car, rides like a car and has as much room behind the 2nd row seat as some SUV’s and, in some cases more, especially with the back seats folded down.
Let’s start with fuel economy. When powered by VW’s TDI 2.0-liter Clean Diesel, the Jetta Sportwagen can get up to 42-mpg on the highway and 30-city. And if that’s not the best part then maybe one of these are: the six-speed dual-clutch automatic helps this thing haul butt AND does it without the embarrassment of black locomotive-style smoke pouring from the exhaust pipe or the clikity-clack sounds coming from under the hood. It’s clean and quiet.
So you’re saying, “I don’t know where to buy diesel, my station doesn’t have it.” Do you know how to use Google? You’d be surprised at the growing number of stations repurposing it’s seldom used mid-grade gasoline underground tank for diesel fuel.
Now to the car itself, the body design is conservative. In fact, our test car was that oh-too-popular brownish/beige; the kind my 90 year old dad used to drive. They do offer other colors so please appease me? If you like the straight horizontal grille between the headlights and the overall look of last year’s Golf, then you’ll love the Sportwagen because that’s pretty much what it is.
Seating is covered in what VW terms “Leatherette.” Could have fooled me, I’d swear they were real hides. Like the exterior, the dash is very conservative in design too. That’s not a bad thing, but for those trading in a vehicle that has lots of interior sculpted swoops and curves, this may be a bit too conservative.
No reason for us to go into all the Bluetooth, USB and voice controlled features, most cars above 20K offer those these days with Nav and Sat radio as featured options.
If there was anything that rubbed me the wrong way was the touch screen controls. I’m one that believes no one should have to open the instruction booklet to learn how to change radio stations or input your favorites. I know I’m getting old and technology is NOT my strong suit, but the IT folks in Germany certainly didn’t consult with us Americans on ease of use here. I will say that once you fumble you’re way to something you can live with, the sound system is pretty good.
As for the ride quality; it’s German with an American likability about it. No it’s not a Mercedes or BMW…because it’s a Volkswagen. What VW has done is to combine the likeability of German handling with a softer sprung ride and it works for me.
So here’s what I’m thinking: If you want to paddle upstream, against the flood water of what seems to be a never ending deluge of SUV’s and crossovers, then check out the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. Look at it like shopping for and ElCamino in a full-size truck lot. SUV versus wagon, heck, I might have just given VW its next marketing idea.
Starting price is $20,395, the TDI clean Diesel begins at $25,540. Get the diesel!
We give the SportWagen 4 out of 5 stars.
If you’re shopping, you’ll also want to check out the Ford Focus and the Mazda 3.