The new Jetta SportWagen 2.0T is a zippy little car with a practical body style. Volkwagen has improved it immeasurably by including a new cabin tech system providing good navigation and multiple audio sources, including iPod.
Volkswagen offers four versions of the Jetta SportWagen: two trims with a 2.5-liter five cylinder engine, one diesel, and this one, equipped with a turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder engine.
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Along with the now-traditional chrome goatee grille, the SportWagen features a very fluid design, the boxiness of the wagon disguised with subtle curves.
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The turbocharged 2-liter engine delivers significantly more power than the 2.5-liter engine, yet gets the same fuel economy.
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These optional wheels, 18 inch Karthoums, included on our car look really good, but add $1,300 to the price.
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Volkswagen makes the practical wagon body look good. The car seats four comfortably with plenty of space in back for cargo.
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The ride in the SportWagen is a little rough, typical for cars in this price range. But it handles fairly well in corners, showing some sport-tuning in the suspension.
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We like the size of the rear hatch. When opened, it offers easy access to the cargo area, which can be maximized by folding down the rear seats.
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This panoramic sunroof is a great option for the sense of airiness it gives to the cabin.
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There is a sense of quality about the fit and finish in the cabin. Gaps are minimal and the design theme is consistent.
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The steering wheel has an extraneous button marked with a phone icon, a legacy from the phone system that can be ordered in European versions of the car.
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One thing we particularly like about new Volkswagens, borrowed from sister-brand Audi, is the display in the instrument panel, showing trip, audio, and navigation information.
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Our car came with the six-speed-manual transmission, which works well enough. VW's twin-clutch transmission, the DSG, is also available for the Jetta SportWagen.
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This hard-drive-based navigation system is new for the Jetta SportWagen, a vast improvement over previous VW navigation systems. In map input mode, you can pull the cursor around to pick a destination from the map.
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Live traffic is shown on the navigation system, but unfortunately doesn't automatically route around jams.
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Address input is made easy with this virtual keyboard. As the system is hard drive-based, it reacts quickly to inputs.
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A digital music port sits in the center console, capable of hooking into iPods and USB drives.
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You can store MP3s on the car's hard drive, making up to 20 gigabytes of music available.
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Satellite radio is also available in the Jetta SportWagen.