Station Wagon Review:
Despite a huge drop in gas prices in late 2008, it looks like people
have abandoned big SUVs en masse. Major auto manufacturers are hurting,
and the U.S. companies are hoping for a Wall Street style bailout from
If you have good enough
credit to actually buy a car, you might want to consider instead a small
station wagon like the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen. You can haul five
people or up to 66.9 feet of cargo with the rear seat folded but still
earn up to 41 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Jetta has been VW’s
most popular vehicle in the U.S. for decades. Essentially a Golf /
Rabbit with a trunk when it debuted long ago, it now has its own
identity, offering German engineering and design for much less than an
Audi, BMW, or Mercedes.
All U.S.-bound Jettas
are built in Puebla, Mexico. These cars feature beautifully designed and
expertly assembled interiors, well above average materials, and a nice
feel overall for the price. Even Consumer Reports recommends them now.
Sportwagens are the
same as their sedan brethren, except for the handsome extension at the
rear. The new taillamps are surprisingly plain looking, but neatly
integrated. Up front, the headlamps are, as in most new cars, elaborate
and jewel like. Overall, the design is subdued, handsome and solid,
perfect for happy day-to-day life, not meant for showing off.
Driving the Sportwagen
is easy and pleasant, with supportive seats and solid controls. It’s the
kind of car you get used to quickly and settle into happily. I had one
“Where’s Waldo” experience trying to find the AUX input jack but finally
located it in a dark corner of the console bin, actually a good spot for
it. My only other complaint is that the rear seats don’t fold completely
flat, but the space back there is capacious.
Sportwagens offer three
engines, all through a manual or optional Tiptronic automatic
transmission. The 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower
and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, which is reasonable for a 3,200-pound car and
moves you from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds (manual) and 8.7 seconds
(automatic). You can order up a 2.0-liter turbo four that puts out 200
horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque and cuts the zero-to-60 time to 7.2
seconds (manual) or a speedy 6.9 seconds with the automatic.
New this year is a
2.0-liter clean diesel with 140 horsepower and a mighty 236 lb.-ft. of
torque. Zero to 60 takes 9.5 seconds, but reports say that the old
diesel noise and odor issues are essentially banished.
The EPA’s Green Vehicle
Guide rates the 170-horsepower five-cylinder engine at 7 for both Air
Pollution and Greenhouse Gas score. The PZEV engine version, available
in California and several other states, earns 9.5 on the Air Pollution
score. For reference, the diesel gets a 6 in Air Pollution but offers a
solid 8 in the Greenhouse Gas score.
Pick your car from four
levels, the base S, SE, SEL, or diesel-equipped TDI. My Reflex Silver
Metallic tester with Anthracite (coal black) interior was an SE, with
the base 170-horsepower engine and the automatic (at an additional
The S comes with a fine
assortment of equipment, including power windows, locks, and mirrors
along with air conditioning, theft alarm, eight-speaker audio system
with single CD slot, and a full serving of safety equipment. The SE adds
V-Tex leatherette seats and door trim, chrome window trim, 16-inch alloy
wheels, an upgraded audio system with CD changer, a rear center armrest
and a window-mounted antenna.
The SEL has the turbo
engine as standard and bumps the alloy wheels to 17-inchers, automates
the climate control system, adds a trip computer, provides rear seat
passengers with a 115-volt outlet, powers the driver’s seat adjustments,
and applies leather to the seats, steering wheel, shift knob, and
handbrake. And, the manual transmission gains a gear.
Fuel economy is 21 mpg
City and 29 mpg Highway for both the naturally-aspirated and
turbocharged engines with manual transmission. The Tiptronic with the
turbo actually improves that mileage by one mpg on the City rating.
Numbers for the TDI diesel are an excellent 30 City, 41 Highway.
Base pricing starts at
a dollar under $19,000 for the S, working up through $21,349 for the SE
and $25,990 for the SEL. The TDI begins at $23,590. Add a $650
destination charge to all of these figures. My Sportwagen tester with
the optional automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, premium audio
system and cold weather package came to $24,099.
There are still choices
in the car market that won’t bankrupt you or take away your utility or
fun and the 2009 VW Jetta Sportwagen is one of them.
By Steve Schaefer
© AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Station Wagon Review provided by
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
VW Home Page
Column Name: A new
small station wagon from Volkswagen
Topic: The 2009
Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
Word Count: 860
Photo Caption: The
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
Volkswagen Jetta Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 14
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2009 VW Jetta
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2009 VW Jetta