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2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Review

This review was written when the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen was new.

The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is almost identical to the 2010 model, but this year, it gets a new front end and higher fuel economy ratings.  

Unlike the new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, which grew in size, has cheap interior materials and a lower base price, the 2011 Jetta SportWagen is staying the same. Automotive writers are relieved Volkswagen kept their paws off the SportWagen. "Don't let its name fool you: The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen isn't quite the same thing as the Volkswagen Jetta sedan,” says Left Lane News. “Although the two once shared engines, interiors and suspensions, a 2011 redesign sent the sedan in a slightly different direction."

The SportWagen hasn’t experienced many changes for the 2011 model year, but there are two notable ones -- a new front end and improved fuel economy ratings. The SportWagen gets a few more miles per gallon in the city and on the highway compared to the 2010 model. To increase fuel economy ratings even more, reviewers suggest upgrading to the TDI trim which features a diesel engine and fuel economy ratings that manage to surpass the Ford Escape Hybrid.

The Jetta SportWagen is family-friendly as well. Rated at 66.9 cubic feet, its maximum cargo capacity exceeds what the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain offer. The SportWagen also comes with leatherette seats, which makes cleaning up simple.

Unlike the Jetta sedan, the Jetta SportWagen outshines its competitors in terms of interior quality. Fit and finish is great for a wagon starting around $20,000. But like most compact wagons, the interior isn’t perfect. The rear row is tight for adults, and the optional navigation system complicates the audio controls.

Overall, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is an ideal compact wagon to own. It will fit four adults comfortably, has a great interior and excellent fuel economy with the TDI trim. It even manages to add a touch of sport to daily commutes.

Other Compact Wagons to Consider

The SportWagen starts below $20k, but to save a few thousand dollars, go for the Hyundai Elantra Touring. It costs nearly $4,000 less than the SportWagen, and has European roots, which means it’s more fun to drive than the Elantra sedan. Fuel economy ratings aren’t as high as the SportWagen’s, but they’re still good. The 2.0-liter engine paired with a manual transmission nets the most – 23/31 mpg city/highway. The Elantra Touring also gets a few standard features the SportWagen doesn’t: iPod connectivity and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Bluetooth is also available for $325. The Elantra Touring’s powertrain warranty is also much longer than the Sportwagen’s. It lasts for 10-years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Though smaller in size, the Mini Cooper Clubman is a good option for shoppers who want something larger than the Mini Cooper Hardtop, but value the Cooper’s zippy performance. In addition to being fun to drive, the Clubman has outstanding fuel economy ratings of 27/36 mpg city/highway on the base model – and you don’t have to select a higher trim to get these averages. These numbers surpass the base SportWagen’s fuel economy ratings, but keep in mind that the Jetta Sportwagen is roomier and has more cargo space. Decide if you prefer more space or value great fuel economy and performance before springing for the Clubman.

Since the SportWagen hasn’t changed much since 2009, it’s wise to look at used 2009 models and new 2010 models that are still on dealer lots. You can save a lot of money that way. However, fuel economy ratings on some powertrain combinations have changed for 2011, so if you want to minimize your fuel consumption, go for a 2011 model.

Details: Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

The 2011 Jetta SportWagen is available in three trims: S, SE and TDI. The TDI trim features a 2.0-liter engine that runs on diesel fuel and has excellent fuel economy ratings. The S and SE trims have a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. An automatic transmission is optional on the S trim, but standard on the SE trim.

The Jetta SportWagen has experienced few changes for the 2011 model year. VW gave it a new front end and fuel economy ratings have increased, most notably for the 2.5-liter engine.

  • "Jetta sedan and wagon parted company for 2011, and we prefer the "old-school" Volkswagen feel of this car to the enlarged and somewhat cheapened sedan. The Best Buy Jetta SportWagen still sets a high standard for overall refinement and solidity. It's also roomy, comes with many laudable safety features, and boasts a high-quality interior. The TDI vanquishes any preconceived notions about diesel engines. It's quiet, yet fun to drive, and boasts fuel economy similar to that of many gas/electric hybrid cars." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With its upscale cabin and sophisticated ride, the Sportwagen looks and feels like a German luxury car." -- Edmunds
  • "If a sport utility or crossover is not in with the social crowd you hang out with and you are worried about gas prices, I don't think you can top the diesel-powered Jetta wagon. It would make me think again about the purchase of a hybrid, given the outstanding gas mileage and lack of added complexity in the Jetta." -- MarketWatch
  • "And it’s not based on the new larger 2011 Jetta sedan. No worries, though, because it’s a fine ride offering lots of utility and excellent economy, especially when ordered in TDI diesel form." -- Road and Track
Review Last Updated: 12/16/11

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