2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L. Click image to enlarge
Related articles on Autos

First Drives

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, by Greg Wilson
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon, by Paul Williams
2008 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta, by Paul Williams

Test Drives

2008 Volkswagen City Jetta, by Bob McHugh
Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2009 Volkswagen Jetta wagon

North Vancouver, British Columbia – Though compact station wagons have been largely replaced by compact SUVs, there are still a few vehicle manufacturers who’ve “kept the faith”. The redesigned Volkswagen Jetta Wagon returned this year after being discontinued in 2007, Hyundai is resurrecting the Elantra Touring wagon for 2009, and Mitsubishi is reportedly bringing back the Lancer Sportback wagon for 2009. The “rugged” Jeep Patriot and the retro-styled Chevrolet HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser could also be considered quasi wagons. And of course, the mid-size, AWD Subaru Legacy Wagon is an enduring entry. On the negative side, Ford has discontinued the Focus wagon and Mazda abandoned its Mazda6 wagon with the new generation Mazda6.

Still, I predict that small wagons, or wagon-like vehicles like the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo, will increase in popularity over the next few years simply because they’re so roomy and practical while being more affordable and more fuel-efficient than larger, heavier SUVs.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L. Click image to enlarge

In some ways, wagons are the most practical of all vehicles: they offer two or three times as much cargo space as sedans for a minimal price premium while offering comparable ride comfort, handling and fuel economy. And though many people think SUVs are roomier, station wagons often have as much or more cargo space, plus a more comfortable ride, and better handling.

The all-new 2009 Jetta Wagon is leading the charge in 2008 and its introduction seems well-timed given the rising popularity of smaller vehicles in North America. One big advantage: it is available with both gasoline and diesel engines (late availability), the only wagon in Canada to offer both.

2009 Jetta Wagon prices have decreased about five per cent since they were first announced earlier this year, probably to match the price reductions announced by other automakers. The base 2009 Jetta 2.5L “Trendline” wagon now starts at $23,475 with a standard 170-hp five-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission; mid-level “Comfortline” models begin at $25,975; and top-of-the-line “Highline” wagons start at $29,375. This week’s test car is a “Spice Red Metallic” 2.5L Wagon “Comfortline” with the optional six-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission ($1,400), Panoramic power sunroof ($1,780) and electronic stability control ($450). With a Freight charge of ($1,335) and A/C tax of $100, the as-tested price came to $31,040.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L. Click image to enlarge
Cargo area

The 2009 Jetta Wagon is based on the Jetta sedan which was completely redesigned for the 2006 model year. The new wagon’s aerodynamically-styled body is longer and wider but slightly lower than the previous wagon’s; cargo floor length behind the rear seats is 109 cm (43 in.) but cargo volume is actually less than in the previous wagon. However, with the rear seatbacks folded down, the new wagon has about 15 cubic feet more cargo volume – floor length is 173 cm (68 in.). Maximum payload capacity is 501 kg (1104 lb).

The rear hatch door is easy to lift, and offers a large cargo opening with a low liftover height. The cargo floor and walls are a non-scratch carpet material, and there are a total of six tie-down rings to secure loose cargo items, and a 12-volt powerpoint for electrical accessories. Two deep wells behind the wheelwells are handy for milk jugs or windshield washer fluid bottles, and underneath the floor are two shallow storage compartments for umbrellas, tools, and valuables that you want to keep out of sight. A removeable, sliding privacy cover hides the contents of the trunk from view when the rear seatbacks are raised.

I was able fit two large suitcases and two carry-on bags behind the rear seats, but it’s roomy enough to fit four large suitcases if necessary without completely obstructing the driver’s rear view. With one side of the split rear seats folded down, four large suitcases can be stored on one side, while one passenger, or possibly two, can sit on the other side.

The split 60/40 folding rear seatbacks do fold flat, but they require the head restraints to be removed first, and the seat cushions to be flipped up against the front seatbacks. Then there is the issue of what to do with the head restraints – I found the best place to store them is in the rear footwells where they don’t take up valuable cargo space.

One problem, which I think is a design flaw, is that the hard plastic moulding in the middle seatback around the centre shoulder belt catches on the soft underside of the rear seat cushion when raising the seatback. In order to raise the seatback without damaging the underside of the seat, the upright seat cushion needs to be pushed against the front seats while the rear seatback is raised.

Anything that won’t go in the cargo area can go on the roof. Roof rails are standard and roof braces and cargo holders are available to increase the Jetta Wagon’s capability.

Passenger cabin

The 2009 Jetta Wagon seats four adults comfortably, but has room for five. Headroom and legroom are generous for front and rear passengers, and there are five three-point seatbelts and five head restraints.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L. Click image to enlarge

All Jetta Wagon models come with standard dual front airbags and side airbags for front occupants. Side curtain airbags were optional on early production Jetta Wagons, but became standard equipment on models produced after July, 2008. Rear side airbags are available as an option.

The Jetta Wagon’s interior layout is the same as the sedan’s: functional but rather austere. The thin strips of aluminum-like trim on the dash, doors, steering wheel and shifter-surround do help to alleviate the bleakness of the “Anthracite Maxima” black interior. Fit and finish, though, is excellent, and everything looks and feels first rate. The height adjustable/lumbar adjustable driver’s seat has supportive side and thigh bolsters, and though the backrest is rather firm, it proved very comfortable over a week’s test drive. The front cloth seats have heaters with variable heat settings to keep the front occupants toasty in the winter.

The Jetta’s big, round tach and speedo are elegant in their simplicity while the teensy-weensy fuel and coolant gauges look like toy gauges. Night-time gauge illumination is an attractive deep blue with red pointers, and a useful red digital display between the gauges provides the time, outside temperature, odometer, trip odometer, and gear indicator.

The straightforward radio/CD/MP3 player in the centre stack features a large LCD screen and big buttons for easy use and eight standard speakers for a better than average sound – Comfortline models include a six-disc in-dash CD changer and an extra two speakers. A 12-volt power outlet is located at the bottom of the centre stack and an auxiliary i-Pod jack is tucked away inside the centre storage bin under the armrest. Interestingly, there are no audio controls on the steering wheel.

The heater/air conditioner is a simple, easy to use arrangement and keeps the cabin comfortable. Two cupholders between the front seats lack cinchers, but are low and out of the way. The centre storage bin is small, but useful for music players. Other storage areas include a large glovebox, door pockets, rear console bin, and a drop down coin tray to the left of the steering wheel.

My Jetta wagon had keyless door unlocking, but curiously, the driver’s door wouldn’t unlock unless I pulled the door handle twice. I have to assume this was glitch exclusive to my test car.

The large, optional “Panoramic” sunroof has a sliding front portion and a fixed rear panel to give both front and rear passengers plenty of light. A full-length power sunshade keeps the hot sun out when necessary.

Driving impressions

The Jetta Wagon’s 2.5-litre inline DOHC 20-valve five-cylinder engine pumps out 170 horsepower @ 5700 r.p.m. and 177 lb-ft @ 4,250 r.p.m., good enough for an 8.5 second 0 to 100 km/h sprint when equipped with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, according to Volkswagen (8.2 seconds with the standard five-speed manual).

2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L
2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon 2.5L. Click image to enlarge

The engine is generally quiet in normal use and is quick off-the-line, but under hard acceleration it emits a buzzy but inoffensive drone.

With the automatic transmission, official Energuide fuel consumption numbers in litres per 100 km are 10.6 city/7.0 hwy, and I managed to average a very respectable 8.1 litres per 100 km (35 mpg Imperial) during my week of driving in city and highway environments. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine uses Regular grade gasoline.

The optional ($1,400) six-speed Tiptronic automatic allows the driver to shift manually with the floor shifter, providing more performance if the driver should so desire. I left it in automatic mode most of the time as it shifts quickly and expertly to make the most of the engine’s power band.

With a fully independent suspension, the 2009 Jetta Wagon handles and rides much like the sedan, and feels very stable in the corners – 205/55R-16-inch all-season tires are standard, and the Comfortline comes with five-spoke alloys as well. Steering feel is firm at freeway speeds and though it’s not speed sensitive, I didn’t find it onerous when parallel parking. The Jetta’s turning diameter of 10.9 m (36 ft.) is tight enough for most parking manoeuvres.

Four wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard and the brakes have a firm, responsive pedal feel. Traction control is standard but ESP is a $450 option, a safety feature that should be standard on a car like this. At least the option price is reasonable.

One thing the Jetta Wagon doesn’t offer is all-wheel drive, something that might appeal to Canadians in colder climes. But perhaps those drivers would prefer an SUV with more ground clearance.

Verdict

Stylish, roomy, comfortable, and affordable, the new Jetta Wagon has the cargo room of a small SUV and the driving manners of a car. But why isn’t stability control standard?

Pricing: 2009 VW Jetta Wagon 2.5L Comfortline

Base price: $25,975

Options: $ 2,230 (Panoramic sunroof, $1,780; electronic stability control, $450)
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,335
Price as tested: $31,040
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta

    Related articles on Autos
    First Drives
  • 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, by Greg Wilson
  • 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon, by Paul Williams
  • 2008 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta, by Paul Williams
    Test Drives
  • 2008 Volkswagen City Jetta, by Bob McHugh

    Competitors
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Jeep Patriot
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2008 Subaru Legacy Wagon

    Manufacturer’s web site
  • Volkswagen Canada
  • Connect with Autos.ca