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PERFORMANCE | 10 out of 10
Chassis clearly outclasses the standard five-cylinder engine
Steering feel would embarrass a few far pricier sports sedans
Acceleration is adequate from a stop
The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen might have “Sport” in its name, but the standard five-cylinder engine doesn't quite deserve the moniker. Fortunately, an available turbocharged four-cylinder steps in to provide some punch to the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen lineup.
There are two available engines on the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, which The Washington Times lists as “a 2.0-liter turbo four making 200 horsepower, or a 2.5-liter five cylinder with 170 horsepower.” Reviews of the standard five-cylinder engine are less than impressive, but TheCarConnection.com’s experts and the rest of the automotive press love the turbo on the Sportwagen Jetta. Beginning from the bottom, ConsumerGuide finds that with the five-cylinder engine, “acceleration is adequate from a stop,” though “as speed rises, the engine quickly runs out of steam,” which means “passing and merging require some planning.” The Washington Post finds that the five-cylinder is “smooth and powerful,” though that opinion is definitely in the minority, and they also praise the engine for exhibiting “no nasty torque steer behavior under hard acceleration.” The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the standout option on the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, and Edmunds says it will propel the Sportwagen Jetta “from zero to 60 mph in the 7-second range,” compared with the “8.6 seconds” posted by the five-cylinder. ConsumerGuide runs the benchmark 0-60 test even quicker than the Edmunds estimates and posts their results of “6.8 seconds in testing.”
According to The Washington Times, the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is available only in “front-wheel drive,” though there are quite a few different transmission choices. Edmunds says the “standard transmission is a five-speed manual” on the five-cylinder engine, “while a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic automanual capability is optional.” Edmunds adds that the turbocharged engine gets “a six-speed manual” as standard fare and “VW’s slick dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission is optional.” All the transmissions go over well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, with ConsumerGuide reporting that the “automatic transmission provides smooth, timely shifts” and the “manual shift gate works well, too,” with the five-cylinder engine. Autoblog agrees, finding that “the easy-shifting 5-speed manual box manages to make the most it can out of the available power.” Furthermore, ConsumerGuide proclaims that the six-speed “manual transmission is a delight to use.”
One of the main appeals of a wagon like the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is that it combines utility with decent fuel economy. For the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, ConsumerGuide reports fuel economy is typical for the class, and they “averaged a frugal 26.1 mpg with more highway miles” in a turbocharged Jetta. The five-cylinder engine will return 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway with either tranny, according to EPA estimates, while the turbocharged engine gets 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with the six-speed manual, shifting to 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway with the DSG automatic.
While the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen’s acceleration might not place it at the head of the pack, it does offer superb handling. ConsumerGuide finds that the Jetta Sportwagen is "more than competent, even a bit sporty," and boasts "fine steering feel." Reviewers at Autoblog aren’t huge fans of the base engine, but they love the chassis of the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, which they say “clearly outclasses the standard five-cylinder engine” and comes mated with a “well-articulated” suspension that does “a decent job of absorbing the road contours.” Motor Trend is suitably impressed and claims that the Jetta Sportwagen offers “steering feel [that] would embarrass a few far pricier sports sedans.” Edmunds contends that “a comfy ride matters more than simulating a track day” to most Jetta Sportwagen buyers; in that regard, the Sportwagen “is a fine companion in day-to-day driving,” though aggressive maneuvers reveal “significant” body roll. Stopping the 2009 Jetta Sportwagen is a snap thanks to what ConsumerGuide describes as “strong and sure” braking.
Excellent handling and a fun, capable turbo engine make this 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen a joy to drive.