By on September 26, 2008

CUV alternativeThe previous gen Jetta was one of the few small station wagons available in the U.S. It garnered a dedicated following amongst those who needed extra space but didn’t have to prove anything to anyone by driving an SUV. When the bulbous fifth generation Jetta debuted, the wagon was missing– but promised. Three years later, it’s finally here. Was it worth the wait?

From the doors forward, the SportWagen looks like any other Jetta, with trapezoidal headlights and grille bisected by an oversized plastichrome bib. Aft of the doors the bulbous cargo compartment looks like it was designed at a different time in a different place for a different car. Over all, there is no over all. VW’s design team needs to put on its overalls and give this one some of the Tiguan’s coherence, post haste.

There’s a lot more to like on the inside, though narcoleptics need not apply. Like many a VeeDub, the dashboard doesn’t have any style per se, but everything’s exactly where you expect it to be. In black, the SportWagon’s interior is so dark that even troglodytes would bring a flashlight. Thank Gott for the now-obligatory aluminum strip bisecting the bleak haus. Things brighten-up when you turn on the lights. Then the instruments glow in the brightest violet this side of a rave, surrounded by the usual VAG orange controls. Thankfully, judicious use of the panel light dimmer can tone down the electroluminescent ecstasy.

¡Viva México! The SportWagon’s cabin’s is well-screwed together using first-class materials. The base S model comes with velour upholstery. The high-zoot SEL has gen-u-wine cowhide. The SE and TDI come only with butt-blistering V-Tex leatherette. Para la gracia de Dios, our tester didn’t come with the optional panoramic sunroof, which turns the interior into a solar oven.

Never mind the heat, feel the bustle. Not to go all quadralingual on you, but back end is the SportWagen’s raison d’être. Fold down the Jetta’s rear seat and it’ll hold 66.9 cubic feet of whatever you feel compelled to take with you. Even with the seat up, there’s 32.8 cubic feet for stuff. As a bonus, there’s a hidden compartment under the floor. Of course, it’s only about three inches deep, so if you’re thinking about using it to smuggle something across the border you’re limited to pizza pans and picture frames.

The SportWagon will haul a lot of stuff, but it won’t haul ass, at least in base or SE trim. Under the hood: VW’s what-the-hell-were-they-thinking 170hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. It sounds coarse when you start it and never seems to smooth out. No matter where or how you drive it, it always feels like the engine’s straining to keep up. When really pushed, the SportWagen will labor to 60mph in 8.4 seconds, protesting all the way.

The smooth-shifting six-speed Tiptronic automatic tries to make up for the engine’s deficiencies, but there’s that silk purse into sow’s ear thing that no one seems to be able to accomplish. If you’re willing to dig deeper into your wallet for higher trim levels, there’s a 200hp turbo four or the torque-happy TDI. America’s penny-pinching wagonistas (are there any other kind?) will rejoice at the news that all engines are available with a third pedal.

It’s a shame the engine puts such a damper on the fun as the SportWagon’s chassis is more than willing to come out and play. With McPherson struts out front and a coil spring multilink setup bringing up the rear, the Jetta always feels composed and ready to rumble. The electrically-assisted power steering is light without feeling over-assisted and the brakes whoa things down quite quickly when requested (as I discovered in a panic stop situation).

The SportWagen SE is reasonably priced. The base car starts at just over $21k. Pile on the options and the price goes up faster than you can say Fahrvergnügen. The automatic transmission costs a cool $1500, while alloy wheels, premium audio and a cold weather package (just the thing for those chilly Atlanta September mornings) ran our tester’s sticker up to a tad over $24k. Add in the glass roof and nav system and you’re pushing $27k. At that price point you’re overlapping a number of tall wagon-type CUVs.

But very few of these offer the handling or even the cargo space of the SportWagen. But do the great chassis and gaping cargo make up for the mediocre engine, blah interior and the misshapen rear end? It all boils down to how emotionally involved you like to be with your cars. If you’re looking for a frugal workhorse, this is it. If you’re looking for one of those “driver’s wanted” deals, well, did you know you can put a cargo box on a GTI?

[Volkswagen provided the car, insurance and tank of gas for this review.]

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60 Comments on “2009 VW Jetta SportWagen SE Review...”


  • avatar
    EEGeek

    The dashboard doesn’t have any, but everything’s where you expect it to be.

    Any… what? Panache? Boy-racer gizmos? German dominatrix bobble-head dolls? Inquiring minds…

    I’m seriously considering one of these with a TDI, but the lack of available fog or HID lights gives me pause.

    I think this is generally a fair review, but is the V-tex really that bad? Most other folks who have it say it feels about like the leather VW offers, which I can attest also gets blisteringly hot in an Atlanta summer.

  • avatar
    veefiddy

    If this car had been in the US market last year there is no way I would be driving my Volvo V50. Even maxed out the VW is way less $, holds more stuff, and with 2 out of 3 engines gets much better MPGs. The safety game is about equal between the two. What is Volvo going to do with VAG and Subie eating their lunch? Wagon nerd that I am I would love to see the comp between the Jetta, V50, A4 avant (if that’s still coming to the US).

  • avatar
    derek533

    Thanks for the review. Here in OKC, there is only 1 Volkswagen dealership. They know it too. There prices are incredibly shitty and if you ever need service and you didn’t buy it there due to the aforementioned shitty prices, you’re service experience will suck just as much.

    At $27K, there are a ton of cars that offer the same if not more. I think they’ll move a few of these, but it won’t be in high volumes.

  • avatar

    EEGeek
    “The dashboard doesn’t have any, but everything’s where you expect it to be.”

    Any… what? Panache? Boy-racer gizmos? German dominatrix bobble-head dolls? Inquiring minds…

    Dash.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The problem, too, is that the much larger Passat wagon with the more-capable 2.0t can be had for under $30k with similar options. So once the Jetta prices up into that range, you’re almost banking solely on image to sell the smaller car.

    Never mind you can also find a base Audi A3 at many dealers for around $28k with cloth and auto. Also 2.0t. And then the Jetta SEL 2.0t becomes even more attractive.

    At $21k-$24k or so, it makes sense. But the options pricing seems to kill a lot of the value, especially with the 2.5L.

  • avatar
    shaker

    AMC is calling from the grave – they want their Sportabout back!

    Edit: I kind of like the effort, but the 5cyl means the “tractor got back”. Also, that flat dash is kind of strange these days.

    Edit edit: The EPA numbers are the most important metric to determine whether VW is wasting the effort…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    the SportWagon’s interior is so dark that troglodytes should bring a flashlight

    I really like this aspect of certain cars. Tan is ok, I suppose, but industrial bin-grey is awful. Both show stains, spills, dirt and poor fit/finish. Black hides all that, and looks classy, if dour.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Wagons like this make so much more sense than CUVs.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    As of what I understand, the Wagon wasn’t a part of the original Mk V Golf programme, but was an afterthought, on behalf of some very loud and loyal european Volkswagen apologists, who just wouldn’t shut up of not being satisfied with the Passat Wagon. So, that’s why it is three years late…

  • avatar

    The rear end looks fine to my eyes. It’s the nose that still isn’t working for me.

    So far, the MkV Jettas have had an average, even slightly better than average repair record based on TrueDelta’s surveys. This could of course change about the time the warranty runs out, but that remains to be seen.

    The current results:

    http://www.truedelta.com/latest_results.php

  • avatar
    Orangutan

    That would be quadralingual, not trilingual (English, German, French, and Spanish).

    And why are troglodytes involved? That part still puzzles me.

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    I just don’t get the 5-cylinder engine. What’s the joke? All the power of a 4-cylinder with the fuel economy of a 6?
    C’mon VW, bring us a good base 4-cylinder with the Mk VI version please.

    Anybody know when the Elantra Touring is going to start appearing??

  • avatar
    Orangutan

    Beginning of next year sometime, Spiff. I’m looking forward to it, too, but I’m disappointed in its powertrain. At least the Jetta has the option of more powerful and efficient engines and three good, modern transmissions.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This could of course change about the time the warranty runs out, but that remains to be seen.

    Well, that encouraging. Sorta.

    VW’s warranty performance has been–without exception–the worst in the industry since Renault, Peugeot and FIAT bolted. The quality may not have always been that bad, but getting warranty work done has traditionally been so painful it’s dragged down what little quality they had. Nice to see that’s improving.

    Now, out of warranty. Er. It’s always been cold comfort that, once the warranty runs out, at least you’re not beholden to your dealer’s service department and VWoA’s Customer Service & Abuse Dept.

    I worry about the MkVIs, personally. Cost control was a major focus of their development, and reconciling that objective with quality has bedeviled Toyota and Honda. I’d be very suprised to see the MkVIs escape unscathed.

  • avatar
    ash78

    psarhjinian

    I’ve always half-joked that you’re better off buying a VW that’s not under warranty. The dealers are just so bad that you’re better off DIY or paying an indy for the better experience and higher quality work.

  • avatar

    “America’s penny-pinching wagonistas (are there any other kind?) will rejoice at the news that all engines are available with a third pedal.”

    Shouldn’t the first half of that sentence be: “Hallelujah! Praise the [insert preferred Deity here]…”

    That is the way it SHOULD be. There are a half dozen cars I’d be seriously shopping at the moment but won’t bother because they offer nothing but a friggin slushbox. (BMW 335D, I’m looking right at you at the top of this list!) VW, while their dealer network is stocked with criminals, at least gets the fact that OPTIONS go beyond fluffy bullshit like satnav and ipod connectivity… they relate to how the DRIVER wants to DRIVE. Namely by swapping their own cogs, or (OMG) using an alternative fuel that is actually … you know …. VIABLE.

    0-60 times? I honestly could give a rats ass. I’m a commuter, not a drag racer.

    Handling? Important.
    Engine options? Important.
    Fuel options? Important.
    No manual shift? Deal breaker.

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The lack of a manual transmission is why as a VERY satisifed CR-V owner, I won’t seriously consider the new one. Nice vehicle but no clutch/manual tranny.

      The Jetta Sportwagon TDI with a manual tranny tops my list now.

  • avatar
    Baumer

    I’m really curious how this wagon would perform with the TDl mill mated to the 6-speed manual. I’m guessing it would transform the car into a great, 5-star driver’s wagon, FWD architecture be damned. If it drives well enough, I’d definitely go for it over the used 325/328xiT wagons i’m considering.

  • avatar
    Orangutan

    Baumer: Read Berk’s review of the new TDI (sedan, but it might as well apply to the wagon) from August. Here’s a snip from the final paragraph:

    “My argument for the Jetta TDI is simple: at $23k it’s cheaper than a Jetta GLI, almost as much fun, and you’ve got to stop for fuel less often.”

    And I see Frank took my suggestion. Thanks. :p

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m really curious how this wagon would perform with the TDl mill mated to the 6-speed manual. I’m guessing it would transform the car into a great, 5-star driver’s wagon, FWD architecture be damned.

    TDIs and manuals aren’t fun. The redline is low, and powerband pretty narrow. It’s like a Celica GTS in reverse: instead the power coming on at 6000 ang going to 8500+, it shows up at 1500 and drops off at 4000. In either case, you have to shift a lot.

    I’d like to see a TDI mated to a CVT. Or the six-speed attached to a chipped 2.0T

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I think the current TDI redlines at 5K. Look up some of the YouTube videos of people doing 0-60 runs. Seems to do just fine. Much better than the narrow power band non-turbo diesels I drove in Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      svan

      Four years later, I thought I should add: I tried a TDI manual, and the city shifting is indeed tiresome. You will find yourself doing a lot of 1-3-5 shifts. Fortunately the engine loves to be lugged, giving a lovely shove starting from 1600 rpm.

      VW did solve this problem, and it’s called DSG. I have a 2012 TDI with DSG, which, while in D, upshifts twice while clearing a typical intersection. The shift lever is labelled D and S, which might as well be thought of as Highway and City.

  • avatar
    mmartel

    I was recently looking at both the Passat and Jetta wagons with loaded trims and 2.0T engines. I also noted the cost was virtually identical. My wife and I both preferred the look of the Passat and VW was offering 0% 5-yr financing on 2008 Passat wagons. It was a no-brainer – we bought our Komfort loaded with rear side airbags, heated seats, splash guards, and mats for $28.2k before taxes and fees. I think the topline Jetta trim would have been about $1k more without the financing and extra rear seat room.

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    To me the wagons and hatchbacks are the only reason to consider a VW these days because no one else in the mid-range bothers, except Subaru (and my local dealer is a VW/Subie dealer, go figure), and there are just too many excellent import sedans to consider a Jetta/Passat.

  • avatar
    netrun

    @psarhjinian:

    I’ve driven the Passat TDI i Germany (with the red i) and with four people and usual baggage I found it to be more than adequate. Around town there wasn’t a lot of shifting required and it seemed fine on the highway all the way to 215kph.

    Wagons rule!

    The back end seems like what you get from mating an Imprezza wagon and an RX330. Kinda weird and not as functional as I’d like to see. If the top deck continued a bit farther this small wagon would be a lot more useful, IMHO.

    Glad to hear it drives nice, though! To me, that’s VW’s schtick. If they get that right, they’ll sell. Something about the feel of a German car done right is very solid and very different from American or Asian cars.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’ve found that tdi engines require LESS shifting than comparable gas engines, at least around town. You can start in 2nd and go straight to 4th (and then 6th, where available) for just about everything, traffic permitting :D

    So while the torque band may be narrow, it’s right where you need it.

  • avatar
    Baumer

    @Orangutan: thanks for the reference – i will check out the Jetta sedan article.

    @psarhjinian: The limitations of the TDI are noted, but i actually find these traits appealing: I tend to shift at low RPM`s (rarely over 3k), and sitting in lots of stop and go traffic, i like the immediate thrust of the low-rpm torque. i also like having a manual for winter driving, as it affords me greater control of the engine.

    Anyhow, I`ll need to test drive to be sure.

    Baumer

  • avatar
    chris123

    As the owner of a 2003 Jetta Wagon I have to say that it has been a love-hate relationship.

    I’ve got one with the 1.8 turbo, Tiptronic and what passes for VW’s “sport suspension.” My number one complaint is the dealer experience – from being lied to and ripped off by the salesman, to the generally shabby treatment with VW service departments over the years, VW has not made a friend. My second complaint is with the car itself. I have slavishly followed the book on maintenance – which has been very expensive to my mind, but around 50k miles, the car has started to break in a number of small ways that add up to a large disappointment: the antenna no longer receives FM (never did really get AM) unless it is below 50 degrees outside, the trans shifts roughly, the engine feels like it is starving for fuel when it is cold and one accelerates, a spring broke and fell off from the underside of the passenger seat, the cargo cover broke and no longer retracts, the finish is wearing off of the plastic on the center column, a hanger in the middle of the exhaust system rusted through and now the whole thing squeaks (the dealer says it can’t be fixed w/o replacing a large chunk of the system), the suspension makes all kinds of weird crunks and pops when driven hard, it leaks when it rains and they can’t seen to figure out how to fix it… on and on it goes.

    Mind you, I still love to drive the car, even if the driver seat has never really been that comfortable – it still charges hard at 60k miles, handles well, holds a bunch of stuff (although my son hates riding in the back in his booster seat – no room for his legs) and gets decent mileage. The car has never broken down, still looks good and has always been a reliable friend. But, I expected better build quality from a car made in Germany. I have been feeling the need to get something larger as my son grows up, but I really am not considering another VW. The new Jetta is just awful looking and the new Wagon is doubly so. I have come to think the Passat is not so bad looking anymore, even if it is ridiculously expensive.

    Too bad it is a Volkswagen.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Don’t listen to the dealer – go to a good independent muffler shop and have them weld on a new exhaust hanger to the pipes. I’ll bet they’ll get it done for $25. I think the dealer is a big part of the why some brands are so expensive.

  • avatar
    Revver

    My wife and I just bought a Jetta SE sedan in February, so here’s some owner’s thoughts:

    1. Styling. Yeah, everyone’s got an opinion. The sedan is fine. Neither offensive or inspired. But jeez, the wagon is far better looking. Rather than looking like an afterthought as this review suggests, to my Pininfarina-lov’n eyes, the wagon is beautiful with a very integrated style. Better than MB’s, BMW’s, and Audi’s wagons. Clean and simple; free of self-indulgent-bangle-ozzled flourishes.

    2. Engine. First, we got the 5 speed. Who wouldn’t? The engine is sweet. Noticeably torqueyer(!) than a typical 2.0 – 2.5 four cylinder. The noise the reviewer is bothered by is the mechanical-music many Japanese cars engineer out. At idle, or at low speeds there is that modern car sensation that the engine is not even running. Step on it, and you hear the sound you are supposed to hear. Haven’t heard better since my ’80′s 535i. And, mated to the 5spd. it feels like a driver’s car.

    3. Value. Don’t forget we’re talking about a very roomy car priced between the Civic and Accord. With the base engine and wonderfully shifting 5 speed, this car is a great driver’s value. We got a SE with the upgraded interior, sound system, alloy wheels and sunroof out the door for $21K.

    4. V Tex. We got it. I was against it, but my practical wife talked me into it. It gets no hotter than leather, but yeah, cloth is the way to go in very hot climates. It’s full of tiny holes, so it’s not the sweat fest you remember from your dad’s 70′s Buick. Remember Mercedes used (uses?) this stuff. It will probably look as good as new 10 years from now.

    5. Comparison. Passat? We could have afforded the Passat, but passed. Big, with floaty suspension. Set up for highway cruising. Not in the same category even though is may seem like it. Mazda6? Great car, but isn’t that packaged with a 3.0 V6 only? Basically, I see the Jetta wagon as being in a category unto itself.

    Only 6K into ownership, but we’re very, very happy. There’s a good chance we’ll trade in to get the wagon.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian : “TDIs and manuals aren’t fun. The redline is low, and powerband pretty narrow.”

    Huh? Of COURSE the redline and powerband are low, it’s a Diesel! The power comes on as soon as you let go of the clutch. Hell you can drive a TDI without using the right pedal at all… just the clutch… all the way up to about 40 MPH. I know, I’ve done it. Driving a Diesel is not like driving a gasser, in fact you are right in that it is an opposite… it is the bizarro world of driving. But hey, if you think having to wind up your engine to weed-eater levels of RPM to get any fun, be my guest. To each his own I guess.

    “Fun” if measured in torque and handling are to be found aplenty with a TDI. Throw in very high MPG too, which unless you go to something seriously un-fun like a Prius you’ll never find in a gas powered car.

    Putting in a slushbox, even a tiptronic, lops off a big part of the efficiency of the Diesel engine though. With just casual use and a 3rd pedal, I average 50 MPG from my TDI. With hypermiling techniques (not do-able with an automatic) I’ve been within .3 of 70 MPG.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I still don’t understand why every review of the Jetta says something about how the 2.5L is the worst thing since sliced puppies. I have minimal modifications on mine (5speed sedan) and have timed it at 7.4 seconds to sixty. I also get 30mpg on the highway, and with a muffler cut out it sounds like an Audi Quattro.

    *shrug*

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m glad VW finally decided to sell a Jetta wagon again, but I can’t buy one just because of the ugly-ass front end. Would it kill them to install a nice GLI like grill in the factory? Chrome added to a European car makes no sense, and it reminds me of my grandfather’s ’84 Buick Regal.

    Some new TDI owners are reporting upper 40s for highway economy with a brand new engine on the 2009 models, so at least the diesel engine seems to be one thing they got right. The 2.5 litre engine is mind-boggling though. In the UK, they’re offering the Golf Estate with a 1.6 litre gas engine. Top speed is 114 mph, and fuel economy is pretty decent for a gas engine. Too bad VWoA doesn’t offer it. Oh well. I’ll wait for the hopefully chrome-less Jetta VI wagon anyway.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The power comes on as soon as you let go of the clutch.

    No, it doesn’t. It comes on as soon as the turbos spool up. There’s lag, though less than there used to be. The problem is that god damn redline: you smack into it constantly.

    But hey, if you think having to wind up your engine to weed-eater levels of RPM to get any fun, be my guest.

    I’ve driven TDIs through Europe a few times, now, and I wouldn’t call them fun. I didn’t think shifting like crazy to keep the engine on the boil was fun in the Celica GTS (mostly due the car’s stupid gearing), and I don’t find it all that amusing here.

    Rev, hit redline, shift, drop out of power band, rev, hit redline–what the hell, so soon?–shift, downshift, get ass-kicked by compression braking, shift, shift, shift.

    Maybe it’s gotten better since 2006, but given the choice I’d still take the 2.0T if fun was paramount.

    Putting in a slushbox, even a tiptronic, lops off a big part of the efficiency of the Diesel engine though.

    I didn’t say slushbox, I said CVT. Big difference. A CVT would keep the diesel right in the meaty bit of it’s powerband when you need power, and would drop the boost off when you needed economy. All without the waste that is shifting.

    Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see small-displacement diesels as fun powerplants. Maybe I’ve driven one too many diesel econocars, but the only time I’ve had fun in a diesel was in the 3-Series, and the powertrain was the least fun part of the car.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Sweet little car from what I see. I’ll take mine with a manual and a TDI which would definitely be better than the 5-cylinder.

    That said I have put quite a few miles on the five in a Eurovan and even at 190K miles the engine was still strong. Will have to see how it compares to my current VW 2.0 which I also like. Small, maybe slower than some cars, but it has been built proof and still does not use any oil at 153K miles. A previous 1.8L was good at 190K miles though it was starting to smoke a little at startup. Of course this was an engine that I regularly drove at 100 mph for hours.

    If we don’t go tiny for the next car(s) like the Mini and Astra then I’d like to replace our CR-V with one of these.

  • avatar
    Orangutan

    CVTs are the ultimate slushboxes. You really want to put a rubberband transmission with a turbo-lagged engine?

  • avatar

    For about the price of a new base-model SportWagen, I purchased a 2 year old Lexus IS-300 SportCross hatchback with 20,000 miles, leather and many other options and with the extended certified warranty. The side profiles on these cars look almost exactly the same, but the Lexus is shorter with a smaller butt.

    The SportCross has a much nicer interior, was made in Japan from Japanese parts, will retain more value and require fewer repairs, and goes a lot faster (RWD; 3L I6 with 215HP).

    Something anyone considering this car should cross-shop the SportCross.

  • avatar
    Baumer

    @Greg, the lexus hatchback seems like a great ride, even without a manual transmission. It’s too bad seeing one in the flesh is about as rare as spotting Osama Bin Laden riding a unicorn.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    CVTs are the ultimate slushboxes. You really want to put a rubberband transmission with a turbo-lagged engine?

    No, they’re not. People think they are because they don’t feel shift points and the resulting shove after a gear change, but they’re not. They’re installed only in the lowest-powered cars (well, except at Nissan) because they make the most of an engine with a small power band.

    Automatics are called slushboxes because of the torque converter: they’re stirring slurry around instead of driving the wheels. CVTs don’t do this.

  • avatar
    ash78

    gregw

    I’d have to research the stats, but I’m guessing the Jetta has nearly double the cube inside, as compared with the IS300 sportcross.

    Don’t get me wrong–I always liked the sportcross and WRX wagon and Saab 9-2x, but they really don’t offer much more space than a regular sedan. I suspect Jetta wagon shoppers are looking for that “vertical space” that most fastbacks are missing due to the diagonal glass.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    CVTs are perfect for a car with a turbo. A traditional slushbox with a turbo makes it all but useless in all but the best programmed ones because the average slushbox only wants to short shift and is extremely hesitant to downshift to obtain maximum gas mileage… end result usually being that it won’t spool the turbo at all unless you push the pedal to the floor and wait a while. A CVT transmission can keep the turbo spooled from the moment you press the accelerator from idle, never letting the turbo unspool (no gear shifts) until you let off of it. More automatic turbo cars should be driven by CVTs.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    I don’t see small-displacement diesels as fun powerplants

    Can testify to that. A girlfriend’s first car; mid 80s Isuzu Gemini – non turbo 1.8 litre diesel even with a manual and soft suspension. Hoonery not encouraged in the least.

  • avatar
    davey49

    It looks like the 5 cylinder has 10-15 more torque than the average 4 cylinders at a lower RPM.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Outback owns this car, period.

  • avatar
    Baumer

    @Romanjetfighter: really? in what areas? mileage? handling? both?

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    The manual really is the best way to get a TDI – you can easily keep the car on boost and in powerband. Revving doesn’t happen all that fast so all this fretting about hitting redline so fast is silly. If you don’t drive like a maniac (which negates a lot of the mileage benefits of the TDI), you will not be troubled by the short redline and torquey engine. Props to VW for hopefully getting the ball rolling — can’t wait to see what clean diesels arrive from Honda, BMW, Subie and others.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    Great review, Frank! One of my all time TTAC favorites.

    Especially:
    “Over all, there is no over all. VW’s design team needs to put on its overalls and give this one some of the Tiguan’s coherence, post haste.”

  • avatar
    ehaase

    Ford needs to bring back the Focus wagon for those of us who can’t afford this Jetta.

  • avatar
    kerstensutton

    So, the problem with this car is the 2.5 engine? But, all is forgiven with the 2.0 diesel and turbo gasser.
    Cool, sign me up for a TDI and a manual!

  • avatar
    william442

    On Wednesday, as I was considering a Jetta Wolfsburg at my local dealer, I witnessed an attempt to deliver a new Sportwagen.The buyer was pointing out problems, and the four or five dealer employees were doing nothing. I leased a Civic yesterday.

  • avatar
    gman37

    I just put a deposit down on one of these today in TDI form with DSG. Before you all go cutting it to shreds, go and test drive one. For 25K it comes completely loaded sans navi, pani roof, and 17″ wheels.

    A base Outback 2.5 runs a couple grand less than the TDI but gets half the mileage and has no where near the get up of the turbo diesel. The fit and finish of the VW is far superior than any other wagon under 25K (oh wait, there aren’t any other than the outback). And I won’t hold my breath waiting for an Elantra Touring to hit the lots.

    If AWD is that important to you, buy the Subie. But if you drive a lengthy round trip to work, and you need cargo space outside of your commute, find me a better deal. The Fit is great, but this is a totally different animal.

    Give the torque a taste and you will see what I mean.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    0-60 in 8.4 seconds-in a station wagon-is not slow, IMHO.

  • avatar
    vento97

    I purchased a 2 year old Lexus IS-300 SportCross hatchback with 20,000 miles, leather and many other options and with the extended certified warranty. The side profiles on these cars look almost exactly the same, but the Lexus is shorter with a smaller butt.

    Nice Camry!!!

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    The rear design looks completely disjointed from the rest of the car. I rarely say this, but this car needs the help from the aftermarket industry to up the cool-factor a bit. That aside, it’s very solid car. Especially for the price.

  • avatar
    unleashed

    gman37: And I won’t hold my breath waiting for an Elantra Touring to hit the lots.

    Care to elaborate???

  • avatar
    gman37

    unleashed: I went to a Hyundai dealer last week to look at a different car and inquired about the Elantra Touring. The salesman told me he wasn’t expecting it until possibly late spring 09. He also didn’t even seem certain it was coming at all. Perhaps he was misinformed.

    I was under the assumption that Hyundai was supposed to release it late summer, early fall this year as an early 09.

  • avatar

    CVTs have been primarily used behind small, relatively impotent engines because until recently, the maximum torque capacity of their innards was not very high. Belt-driven CVTs (like Honda’s ill-fated first effort) are usually limited to well under 150 lb-ft. VW Group’s CVT (which I think uses chains) can handle something like 210 lb-ft. Nissan’s Extroid CVT, which uses metal rollers, rather than belts, has a much higher torque capacity; it was one of the first to be able to withstand greater torque.

    Frank: It’s “MacPherson strut,” not “McPherson.” It’s named for one-time Chevy and Ford engineer Earl S. MacPherson (1891-1960), who developed it (originally for a compact Chevy that never came to fruition).

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    …..Absolutely love my “08 Subie Forrester Sport 5-Speed” I picked up in May for $20,400(Big dealer discount+rebate+0%finance). Made 28.5MPG driving it cross country in July.

  • avatar
    revolver1978

    I’ve had negative experiences with VW’s in the past (a persnickety ’02 Golf GLS TDI) but this is on my list. I’m looking for a snow-ready hatchback that can carry three dogs. The A3 is nice but the hatch area is too small. The A4 Avant is on the list (used of course – they depreciate fast) as are used 9-5 and 9-3 Sportcombi’s.
    I would agree with Mr. Karesh, I think the back is attractive – it remins me quite a bit of the 9-5′s rear.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Be sure to go sit in one of these cars. We did a week ago and we are sold. Not ready to buy but it tops our list now.


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