2010 VW Jetta SportWagen TDI Review

2010 VW Jetta TDI SportWagen

Last year, we drove a 2009 VW Jetta TDI sedan from Raleigh, NC to Washington DC and back on less than one tank of diesel, which ended up to be around 46 mpg on average. We praised the car not only on its exceptional fuel economy, but on its livability, excellent 6-speed manual transmission, peppy engine, affordability, and the fact that you can’t even tell it’s a diesel-powered engine while driving.

Last week, Volkswagen handed us the keys to the face-lifted 2010 Jetta TDI – but now it’s the larger SportWagen model with a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.

There are a few changes this year in the 2010 Jetta TDI; most notably the face-lifted front-end (which I could have done without,) new interior trim design, and a few other little details. The most important part about the TDI model – the engine – remains unchanged. It’s still a peppy little 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder clean diesel TDI producing only 140 horsepower, but a very impressive 236 lb-ft of torque. That’s where the peppiness comes in. And for a 3,285 lb station wagon, it feels downright fast at low speeds.


It rained for most of the week that we had the car, but fortunately good ol’ German engineering came to our rescue. It’s like the 2010 Jetta TDI didn’t even know it was pouring outside; the car felt solid and stable at any speed, and didn’t hesitate for a minute about taking a high-speed corner on slippery pavement. Plenty of room inside with comfortable seating, a high-quality interior, and a nifty panoramic sunroof makes the Jetta TDI SportWagen feel much more expensive than it is. The ride is comfortable all-around with good steering response and suspension, and the 30 mpg city, 42 mpg hwy fuel economy numbers will make any commuter jump for joy.

There were a few things I didn’t like about the new Jetta though. Throttle response while at low speeds is strange and takes some getting used to. From a stop, acceleration is jerky, as if the accelerator pedal is too sensitive. Push the pedal down a little bit and you don’t get any power, but push it down a centimeter further and you’re bound to suffer whiplash. I’m not sure what to blame this on; since this didn’t happen on the TDI we drove with a manual transmission, and I could lessen the effect while using the manual shift mode on the DSG, I’m determined it’s a problem with the auto transmission gearing. My only other gripe about the 2010 VW Jetta TDI SportWagen is that when trying to open the rear hatch with the key fob, it opened about half the time; the other half I had to open it manually.

2010_VW_Jetta_TDI_SportWagen interior

Despite my griping about the DSG gearbox, it’s a smooth transmission overall. While at speeds faster than a crawl, shifts are barely noticeable. Still, I’d opt for the 6-speed manual transmission.

The 2010 VW Jetta TDI starts at $22,830, not including the $1,300 Federal Income Tax Credit. SportWagen models are a bit more, starting at $24,310. The Jetta TDI comes standard with some impressive features including heated mirrors and washer nozzles, A/C, cruise, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, heated eight-way-adjustable front seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, bluetooth, 10-speaker sound with a six-CD changer and standard auxiliary jack, and a trip computer. Plenty of options available, including the $1,300 panoramic sunroof (there goes the tax credit,) a few different wheels, a body kit, navigation, and all sorts of accessories. The DSG automatic transmission tacks on an extra $1,100.

While diesel fuel is back to being more expensive than regular gasoline now, the difference in price (about $0.20/gallon around me) isn’t significant enough to not consider a diesel. Where else can you get a mid-size wagon that gets 46 mpg on the highway, feels like a luxury car, and has this much standard equipment for under $25,000?

2010 VW Jetta TDI SportWagen 4

Before You Buy

We didn’t do a photo shoot for the 2010 VW Jetta TDI SportWagen last week. Normally I would just take some stock photos off of Volkswagen’s website and use them, but they didn’t have any good ones, so I’m borrowing some from the good folks at Road & Track:

  1. I own a 2009 VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen. Almost all of my driving is local. At 13K miles my typical mileage is 35 and the one trip I took from NJ to Maine yielded 42 mpg. I don't seem to notice any of the transmission startup from standing that you talk about. The car is comfortable as are the heated seats, especially since they start to feel warm as I reach the end of my 25 ft driveway. To prevent parking lot dings I added a body colored vinyl strips along the side and a blackstrip on the top of the rear bumper so I won't scratch that surface loading or unloading the back storage area. I also found a switched power point point at the overhead console so I could connect a radar detector and I replaced the factory rearview mirror with an autodimming one with homelink buttons. Makes driving more convenient. The large glass roof is nice, as it makes the interior bright.

    If I have any complaint I note that this car as sold in the UK as a "Golf" has a much more upscale interior with very nice cloth seats which I prefer to Leather or Plastic.

    1. Hey Rich. You have the DSG? I got used to it after a few days, although it was still noticeable. Not sure if it’s a consistent thing or maybe even in my head!

      I loved the panoramic roof; that’s an option I’d have to take 🙂

      1. Hey Chris, met you at the supercar sensation event yesterday. Awesome time! My sister owns a 2010 jetta sportwagen TDI with DSG and I thought the same thing when I drove it. The transmission is GREAT while at speed and using manual mode to upshift and downshift…but something felt off, somewhat jerky at low speeds (parking lots). Not a deal breaker but something I did notice. Great site!

    2. I just purchased a 2011 VW Jetta tdi wagen. I would like to switch out the standard mirror for the auto dimming with homelink mirror also. What mirror did you buy and do you like it thus far?

  2. Don't think its just the Jetta Sportwagon that does the herky jerky with the DSG tranny. I just drove the Audi A4 wgn with its none manual tranny and no way could I get that car to be smooth from taking off or accelerating out of very low speed corners. It was unpleasant to the point of being a deal breaker in my opinion….both on the VW for 25k and the Audi for 40K. At least VW gives us the option of the good manual tranny.

  3. The fuel efficiency of rest VW models are not up to the expectation, but it has been improved a lot in Jetta sportwagen Jetta. The cabin is up scaled.

  4. The Jetta TDI Sportwagen is basically a scaled down Audi A4 wagon. Interior has “leatherette” instead of leather, the engine has a little less horsepower and the transmission is a 6- rather than 8-speed, and the drive train is only front- instead of all-wheel. If you don’t need all that extra stuff, you gotta love the TDI! I love the panoramic sunroof!

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