- Pert Audi-like styling
- Optional 200-horsepower turbo engine
- Dual-clutch automatic transmission
- Dull performance from standard five-cylinder engine
- Seats raised, the cargo area isn't huge
- No all-wheel-drive option
It's been a long time coming back, but the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen gives crossover buyers something else to consider―and diesel power is on the way.
It's been a few years since Volkswagen offered a compact station wagon in the United States, but the new 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen debuts just in time to capitalize on rising fuel prices and the arrival of the new Volkswagen diesel engine―the first clean diesel engine in its lineup since emissions rules changed in 2007.
The new Jetta Sportwagen is the sleekest edition of the Volkswagen station wagon yet. In profile, it's more like an Audi―and VW's interior styling that bowed on the 2006 Jetta has worn well with time.
The Sportwagen offers either a 2.5-liter inline-five with a five-speed manual or automatic, or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and either a six-speed manual or a six-speed Tiptronic automatic. The diesel engine TDI will arrive at the end of the summer with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic, which eliminates the clutch pedal but allows manual shifting.
Handling is typically Germanic, with firm steering and not too much body roll. The Jetta's brakes feel well balanced, too. It's not a large vehicle, but with the second-row seats folded forward, the Jetta Sportwagen boasts a big cargo hold, albeit without clever cargo organizers or anything that shows an influence from small sport-utility vehicles.
A huge panoramic sunroof is an option on the 2009 VW Jetta Sportwagen, as are Sirius Satellite Radio and a navigation system. Pricing ranges from about $19,000 to nearly $26,000, which neatly overlaps the small crossovers from Saturn, Ford, and Subaru—but the Jetta Sportwagen isn't offered with all-wheel drive like those vehicles.