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In today's eco-conscious market, many shoppers favor crossovers over traditional SUVs for better fuel economy with similar space. But for those willing to go a step further, the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen may be the best choice of all.
The five-door wagon offers two powertrain options. On the S and SE, a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine delivers 170 horsepower while getting up to 21 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. A TDI model, meanwhile, features 2-liter turbo-diesel engine with over 230 pound-feet of torque and economy ratings of 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway.
The SportWagen also has the utility to rival some sport utility vehicles. With its 60/40 rear seat folded, it boasts 66.9 cubic feet of cargo space—more than Chevrolet's Equinox crossover.
Volkswagen continues to base the SportWagen on its previous-generation Jetta, and that's a good thing. The quality of interior materials is good, and handling—a typical Volkswagen virtue—is nimble.
Equipped with one of VW's clean-diesel engines, the TDI SportWagen is green and well equipped. Interior features include a 115V power outlet, an iPod interface and floor-mounted ambient lighting. Embossed floor mats are found in the front and rear, and a cargo area cover comes with all SportWagens. A ten-speaker system with a touchscreen and CD/MP3/WMA player provides audio entertainment. The TDI also gets a six-speed manual transmission equipped with a hydraulic clutch, 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted glass, and a chrome grille and dual exhaust tips.
The base model of the SportWagen lineup is a good-value. Interior features include climate control with a pollen filter and a total of three power outlets. Cloth covers the seats, and the luggage compartment is fully carpeted. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is leather-wrapped. The S rides on 16-inch steel wheels and exhales through dual exhaust tips. The bumpers are body-color, as are side mirrors that feature integrated turn signals. Black roof rails and tinted glass are also standard.
The most noticeable upgrade on the SE trim is a set of 16-inch alloy wheels. Other standard equipment includes a six-speed automatic transmission, chrome window trim and a chrome grille. The windshield washer nozzles are heated and the tires are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). The leatherette seating surfaces are complemented by leatherette trim inserts in the door panels. The steering wheel, shift knob and brake handle are leather-wrapped. A premium sound system comes with a touchscreen, HD Radio and Bluetooth music streaming capability. Additionally, a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio comes with every SE SportWagen.
Not as fun-to-drive but has a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty
Standard all-wheel drive although fuel economy is worse
More fuel-efficient but boring to drive
Gets a combined 47 mpg with a better interior, yet cargo area is smaller