2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen

The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is something of a rarity in U.S. automotive market - a compact station wagon available with a torquey and fuel-efficient diesel motor. Despite what its name suggests, the Jetta SportWagen has less in common with the Jetta sedan than you might think - while it retains the sophisticated suspension and upscale interior that have characterized past Jetta models, the latest sedan is priced as more of a mainstream model and thus does without many of the SportWagen's premium components.

In terms of styling and mechanicals, the SportWagen is far closer to the Golf than the Jetta - in fact, in most markets outside of the United States and Canada, the Jetta SportWagen is called the Golf Estate or Golf Variant. One key different between the two is that the SportWagen is noticeably roomier than the five-door Golf, rivaling much larger station wagons for its cargo and passenger space.

The Jetta Sportwagen seats five passengers and offers a spacious 32.8 cubic feet of cargo room. The second row of seats folds to create even more room, giving the car a total of nearly 92 cubic feet of storage.

The interior is characterized by elegant, Germanic design with a high amount of soft-touch materials for the class.

The entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter five-cylinder mill that puts out 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. This engine can be paired with a five-speed manual to return 23/33 mpg or a six-speed automatic transmission to net 24/31 mpg.

Many Jetta SportWagen buyers opt for the available 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel four-cylinder, which returns 30/42 mpg with a six-speed manual and 29/39 with a DSG dual-clutch automatic.

Standard and Optional Features
The gas-powered SportWagen is available in S, SE and SE with Sunroof trim levels, while the diesel version can be had in TDI, TDI with Sunroof and TDI with Sunroof and Navigation forms.

The S comes standard with A/C, power locks and windows, an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system with an AUX input, cruise control, heated seats, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, power adjustable and heated exterior mirrors and 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps. A leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, LED license plate lights and a multi-function display are also included.

The SE adds the automatic transmission as standard in addition to leatherette upholstery, a 10-speaker Touchscreen Premium VIII sound system with a six-disc CD changer, 16-inch alloy wheels, Sirius satellite radio and a media device interface with an iPod cable. Predictably, the SE with Sunroof brings a panoramic sunroof along with 17-inch wheels.

Save for a standard rear-view camera, the TDI and TDI with Sunroof's features mirror those of the SE and SE with Sunroof, respectively, while the TDI with Sunroof and Navigation brings (again, predictably) a nav system in addition to keyless entry.

Occupant Safety
All SportWagens come standard with dual front, side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.

Key Competitors
It's no secret that wagons aren't hot sellers in the U.S., so competition isn't quite as fierce as it is in Europe. Still, the Jetta SportWagen is up against a few offerings, including the more expensive Acura TSX Sport Wagon and Subaru Outback. Some shoppers will likely consider car-based crossovers as well.