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2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Better mileage than other small wagons by Prairie4MN



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Reviewed: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

4dr Wagon turbocharged 140hp 2.0L I4 Diesel 6-speed automated manual FWD

Why the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen?

Fuel economy

Our Sportwagen, automatic, has 17,000 mostly country/suburban miles. We routinely get 43 mpg and the mileage seems to have improved a bit, maybe 2-3 mpg since new. Top mileage is about 47 mph on the interstate, low is about 37 in combined in-town/suburban winter driving. For a car that is fun to drive and responsive at the stop light, this seems very good to me. Right now, diesel is at a premium compared to gas, but we still are saving money on fuel. Mileage on other brands of small wagons was much lower for the same utility. A friend with a new, 2013 Subaru wagon got 30 mpg on a long trip and was happy, but nothing like the TDI delivers.

Interior styling

This car has traditional, buttoned-down styling, not so much bling as we found on Fords, Toyotas and Hondas we looked at. Nicer finish than Mazda, too. Hyundai Elantras have nice styling inside, but not the mpg rating, and the wagon model was unavailable in our area. Subaru 4-wheel would be nice, but seats were not as comfortable and mileage was relatively poor.

Reliability & durability

We suffered one "no start" on this car when it was brand new - a software glitch fixed under warranty. Otherwise, the car has been flawless in the first 18 months.

Driving position & visibility

This car has excellent visibility, better than the VW sedan I traded, because there is no thick rear pillar. The seats are a hybrid of manual/automatic, but my wife 5'8" and I 5' 10" have no trouble finding a good driving position. I like the telescoping/tilt wheel. The passenger seat has a nice power tilt feature and manual lumber.


This car has 16 inch tires, which I find much more economical to replace than the 17 inch tires they insist on putting on small cars these days. (Yes, the car will probably corner better with wider tires, but if you are a teenager bent on cornering, maybe you should drive something else?) I live on a country road with some extreme curves and this car handles it fine, plus the TDI gives you the oomph to climb a steep grade. (I can leave the trucks/suvs in the dust on grades and curves when feeling sporty....)

Why Not the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen?

Powertrain performance

When the TDI is cold, it stumbles a bit, especially at low speeds. This always disappears but is a bit annoying, and perhaps an inherent problem with diesel motors. A manual would give you more control and perhaps you could rev the engine higher when cold to get around this.


This car has some wind noise, more than my Passat did. I would prefer some more sound dampening if I was driving this a lot on long road trips.

Reliability & durability

Other than one software glitch when new, this car has given us no problems at all. That is an accomplishment for VW. I have owned Passats and an Audi A4, and both were subject to engine-related recalls. So far, so good with the TDI! (I have found Hondas and Mazdas to be very reliable, but their cars have not appealed to me the way the VW has.

Audio & nav systems

The speakers in this car could be better. However, I really like the flash memory card port under the CD player. I can use one flash/card instead of a whole raft of cds.

Color choices

It is hard to find a sportwagon that is not a drab version of gray. Come on VW, why not a couple nice blues or greens?

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