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2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen review

Not all lifestyle load-carriers need to be tall-riding SUVs. With the rear seats folded, the dynamic 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen can pack a remarkable 66.9 cubic feet of ‘stuff’ into its load space—then drive like a sports sedan while getting it to its destination.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo -2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo -
And by opting for the Jetta SportWagen TDI with its fuel-sipping 2.0-liter TDI® Clean Diesel engine, that destination can be more than 600 miles away, because it can cover that distance on just one tank of diesel fuel, averaging an impressive EPA-estimated 42 highway miles per gallon.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
Recently redesigned with all-new front end styling, and available with a choice of TDI Clean Diesel power or Volkswagen’s refined 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder gasoline engine, the Jetta SportWagen offers German engineering in a sleek, stylish, blast-to-drive package.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
And it wouldn’t be a Volkswagen if it didn’t offer a price tag that raised eyebrows. That is why the well-equipped Jetta SportWagen 2.5S has anMSRP of just $19,995.
There’s a new SE with Sunroof model available with 2.5 liter power, as well as a TDI Clean Diesel with Sunroof model. These trims naturally come with the huge panoramic glass sunroof that tilts and slides and lets in lots of sunshine, and also includes a set of 10-spoke 17-inch Porto-style alloy wheels.
Available just with the Jetta SportWagen TDI Clean Diesel is the new TDI with Sunroof and Navigation package. It comes with the same panoramic sunroof and 17-inch Porto alloys, but adds Volkswagen’s RNS 315 navigation system with its five-inch touchscreen color display. It can provide turn-by-turn directions and either 2D or cool 3D-perspective routes. The package keeps on giving with keyless access with push-button start.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
The badge says it all: SportWagen. Here is the melding of sleek sports sedan with versatile Euro-style five-door wagon, in a package that’s been described as having ‘Vroom to spare’.
An extensive redesign saw the front-end styling brought in line with Volkswagen’s new design DNA, with its focus on strong horizontal cues. It’s the same theme that has been adopted so effectively in the latest Golf, GTI, Jetta sedan, Eos and the all-new Passat.
The narrow grille features twin gloss-black horizontal blades running between the headlights, with similar horizontal vanes in the lower bumper section. They’re designed to visually lower and widen the car’s stance.
In profile, the gently-arcing roofline, with its sweep echoed by long roof-rack rails gives the Jetta SportWagen a sleek, fast look. Black trim surrounding the side windows of the S model—it’s in chrome on both SE and TDI Clean Diesel versions—visually stretch the car, helped by the body-colored tailgate spoiler.
At the rear, the sleek, stretched look continues with the fastback-like tailgate that opens almost full-width for ease of loading. The contoured rear bumper with its tailgate cut-out, adds to the SportWagen’s dynamic look.
To give the new SportWagen an even more custom appearance, there’s an available SportWagen Ground Effects styling package. It comprises a new front valence, side sill extensions, rear valence and larger exhaust tips. Add to this the available 18-inch black-finish ‘Karthoum’ alloys, or 18-inch silver-finish ‘Goal’ wheels for a bold ‘custom tuner’ look.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
The 2012 Jetta SportWagen has impressive load-carrying abilities. With the 60/40-split folding rear seats in place, there’s a spacious 32.8 cubic feet of usable cargo space in the fully-carpeted load area. A roll-out blind keeps the contents away from prying eyes. Lift up a panel in the luggage compartment floor and there’s a full-width tray that’s perfect for storing away a laptop or briefcase. And it’s perfectly-proportioned for pizza boxes. Family-size, naturally.
Fold the rear seats forward and the load area increases to an impressive 66.9 cu ft. And loading is easy thanks to the low bumper height at the rear, and the wide-opening tailgate.
When it’s not doing the heavy lifting, the Jetta SportWagen can carry five adults in comfort. Even the entry-level S model features the kind of materials, the fit and finish, and outstanding attention to detail normally reserved for higher-priced luxury sedans.
Throughout the cabin, high quality, soft-touch plastics are integrated with tasteful, brushed metallic trim and chrome highlights. The 2.5S model features Titan Black cloth for its seating surfaces, while the SE and TDI Clean Diesel models offer Volkswagen’s trademark perforated V-Tex leatherette.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
Talking of seats, the driver and front passenger are held in place by available heatable seats. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel ensures a tailored driving position.
To let the outside in to the Jetta SportWagen’s cabin, there’s an XXL-sized panoramic glass tilt/slide sunroof. The aerodynamically and acoustically optimized roof comprises one glass segment for opening, and one fixed glass panel over the rear seat. It features pinch protection and an electrically-operated sunshade that covers the inside of the entire glass area. It’s offered on the SE and TDI Clean Diesel models.
Music needs are taken care of by Volkswagen’s RCD 310 radio/sound system. On the 2.5 S model it features a single CD player with eight speakers, aux-in and MP3 readability. Bluetooth® connectivity is also standard. A step-up to the SE trim sees the system expanded to 10 speakers with a six-disc changer, Media Device Interface (MDI) with an iPod® cable, and SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
Engines and Transmissions
The 2012 Jetta SportWagen comes offered with a choice of two technically-advanced engines. Buyers can choose either the 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder gasoline engine, or the highly-acclaimed, 50-state compliant 2.0-liter TDI® Clean Diesel.
The 2.5-liter produces 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. It features an aluminum-alloy crossflow cylinder head with four valves for each cylinder, double overhead camshafts, maintenance-free hydraulic lifters, and sequential multi-port fuel injection.
A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on the SportWagen 2.5 with the option of a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic® and Sport mode. Tiptronic allows the driver to shift manually with an up or down push of the gear selector. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 33 mpg highway and 23 mpg in the city for the 2.5 with six-speed manual, and 31 mpg highway/24 mpg city for the six-speed automatic.
Volkswagen’s highly-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged in-line four-cylinder TDI® Clean Diesel produces 140 horsepower and a muscular 236 lb-ft of torque delivered for strong low-speed response, between 1750 and 2500 rpm.
This state-of-the-art diesel features turbocharging and an advanced common rail direct-injection fuel system. The valvetrain comprises double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and maintenance-free hydraulic lifters.
Standard with the Jetta SportWagen TDI Clean Diesel is a six-speed manual transmission. Optional is Volkswagen's acclaimed six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode—providing drivers with the performance of the manual gearbox and the precision of an automatic. DSG helps the SportWagen TDI Clean Diesel deliver an EPA-estimated 39 mpg highway and 29 mpg in city driving, while the TDI with manual transmission can average 42 mpg highway and 30 mpg city.
Suspension and braking
Volkswagen engineers created a suspension system that not only delivers fun, responsive, driver-focused handling, but does so when the car is loaded-up with heavy gear.
They used a proven strut-type front suspension with coil springs, a lower control arm and an anti-roll bar. At the rear, there’s a sophisticated fully-independent multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar.
The electro-mechanical power steering system includes variable assistance and active return to help keep the driver confident and the Jetta SportWagen stable yet responsive, heading through every turn. In tight parking spots, it provides a 35.8-foot turning radius, with three turns of the wheel lock-to-lock.
Stopping duties are handled by a power-assisted four-wheel disc brake set-up that, in the Jetta SportWagen 2.5, utilizes 11.3-inch vented discs at the front and 10.1-inch solid discs at the rear. For the TDI Clean Diesel version, the diameter of the vented front discs goes up to 12.3 inches, with 10.7-inch solid rotors at the back.
An Antilock Braking System (ABS) is naturally fitted as standard to all Jetta SportWagen models, along with Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Engine Braking Assist (EBA), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Safety and Security
As with all Volkswagen models, the starting point for ensuring occupant safety is an extremely strong and rigid body structure. Key body panels are joined with seamless laser welds, instead of spot welds, for added strength.
To protect those inside, there are driver and front passenger front and side thorax airbags, together with Side Curtain Protection® head airbags covering outward-seated occupants front and rear.
Additionally, the SportWagen comes with Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System that, in certain types of collisions, automatically shuts off the fuel pump to the engine, unlocks the doors, and even switches on the hazard warning lights.
Like all 2012 Volkswagen models, the car is covered under the no-charge Carefree Maintenance Program. All scheduled maintenance is covered for the length of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty—three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen photo
Model Line-up
Six models make up the 2012 Jetta SportWagen model line-up, each one extremely well-equipped, and surprisingly affordable.
2.5 S
The 2.5 S represents exceptional value. Its standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels with full covers and 205/55R16 all-season tires; power heatable exterior mirrors; rear window wiper with washer; adjustable front intermittent windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles; Climatic manual air conditioning; center console with adjustable armrest and integrated storage box; cruise control; trip computer; front and rear power windows with auto up/down; tilt and telescopic adjusting steering column; Bluetooth; six-way powered, heatable driver and passenger comfort seats with lumbar; split-folding rear seat with center armrest and pass-thru; RCD 310 radio/sound system with single CD slot, eight speakers, aux input, and MP3 readability.
2.5 SE
This adds 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55R16 all-season tires; chrome exterior window trim and front grille; high-line instrument display; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, brake lever, and shift knob; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces; 10-speaker sound system with in-dash CD changer, HD radio capability, MDI with iPod® cable & SIRIUSXM™ Satellite Radio.
2.5 SE with Sunroof
The SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires and a panoramic sunroof with power tilt and slide.
2.0 TDI Clean Diesel
It offers the same standard features as the 2.5 SE, but with the addition of a 115-volt power outlet.
2.0 TDI Clean Diesel with Sunroof
This adds 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires and a panoramic sunroof with power tilt and slide.
2.0 TDI Clean Diesel with Sunroof and Navigation
This adds RNS315 radio navigation system, and keyless access with push-button start.


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