2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI – Review and Test Drive

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DRIVING THE 2011 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA SPORTWAGEN

I drove the JSW on a variety of roads ranging from country lanes to winding roads to long stretches of highway.  I averaged 38 mpg (6.18 l/100 km) that week the JSW visited.  The 6-speed manual (not on our test car) and the DSG transmission both use the same amount of fuel and we have previously found the manual is perfectly suited to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four’s 236 pound-feet of torque.  In manual mode, I found the DSG reacted slowly to shifts and I tended to stay in the sport mode a bit more as the higher rev points for shifts provided for more spirited driving.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is standard on the JSW TDI and on all 2011 Volkswagens, ahead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requirement for some form of ESC on all model-year 2012 vehicles.  NHTSA studies show that vehicles with ESC have 35% fewer single-vehicle crashes and 30% fewer single-vehicle fatalities.  The JSW’s ESC compares the driver’s intended course with the direction the vehicle is actually traveling in.  If a discrepancy is found, ESC uses braking and/or engine power to make course corrections.

One key safety feature is not available, namely automatic crash notification (ACN), a telematics feature that is available in both entry-level and luxury cars from a variety of automakers including BMW (BMW Assist), Ford (Sync), General Motors (OnStar), and Mercedes-Benz (mBrace).

The Jetta SportWagen’s interior is nicely done and gives the appearance of a car that has a much higher price point.  Controls and ergonomics are excellent.  Switches and knobs were easily within reach and straightforward in operation.

The seats were comfortable and provided decent – but not excellent – support in longer drives.  On one trip, four adults were very comfortable for a three-hour drive and there was, of course, plenty of room in the back for packages.  The addition of a small child or child seat in the middle would have only slightly diminished passenger comfort.  Headroom was excellent (there was no sunroof in our car, which translated into an extra inch or so compared to JSW’s with sunroof) and legroom was more than ample, front and rear.

Volkswagen buyers get three years of scheduled maintenance at no charge (a nicety found in such premium brands as BMW) as well as roadside assistance.

The Jetta SportWagen TDI provides drivers with an unparalleled mix of comfort, space, practicality, fuel economy, and pricing and, most important, is still fun to drive.  Fahrvergnügen, anyone?

2010 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI
Base price/price-as-tested ­­$24,995/$26,865
Drivetrain Front-wheel drive
Engine 2.0-liter/140 hp/I-4
Transmission 6-speed DSG automatic
Curb weight (lbs) 3,283
Wheelbase (inches) 101.5
Length x width x height (inches) 179.4 x 70.1 x 59.2
0-60 mph (seconds) 9.5
City/highway fuel economy (mpg) 30/42 (with DSG)

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